International: Gays who live in communities that are biased against them pay a heavy price, with such individuals dying early by almost a decade, says new research from the Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.
Lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGBT) individuals who lived in communities with high levels of anti-gay prejudice have a shorter life expectancy of 12 years on average compared with their peers in the least prejudiced communities, said the study published in Social Science & Medicine journal and reported in timesofindia.indiatimes.com.
“The results of this study suggest a broadening of the consequences of prejudice to include premature death,” said the study’s lead author, Mark Hatzenbuehler.
Using statistical data drawn from the US National Death Index as well as social surveys, the study examined whether mortality risk differed for LGBT individuals who lived in communities that were characterized by high versus low levels of prejudice. By the end of the study, 92% of LGBT respondents living in low-prejudice communities were still alive; in contrast, only 78% of the LGBT respondents living in high-prejudice communities were still alive.
A press release put out by the University said that the study found the incidence of suicide, homicide/violence, and cardiovascular diseases to be substantially higher among sexual minorities in high-prejudice communities. LGBT respondents living in high-prejudice communities died of suicide on average at age 37.5, compared to age 55.7 for those living in low-prejudice communities, a striking 18-year difference.
Homicide and violence-related deaths are one of the most direct links between hostile community attitudes and death, and results indicated that homicide rates were over three times more likely to occur in high-prejudice communities than in low-prejudice communities,” the timesofindia.indiatimes.com quoting from the release said.
Deaths due to heart-related problems were higher among LGBT people living in high-prejudice communities — 25% in comparison to 18.6% in the low-prejudice communities.
“Psychosocial stressors are strongly linked to cardiovascular risk, and this kind of stress may represent an indirect pathway through which prejudice contributes to mortality. Discrimination, prejudice, and social marginalization create several unique demands on stigmatized individuals that are stress-inducing,” the release quoted Dr Hatzenbuehler as saying.