US study finds homophobia leads to shortened lifespan for LGBTI people
A study conducted by researchers at Columbia University has found gay and lesbian people living in homophobic neighbourhoods were three times more likely to be murdered and more likely to succumb to heart disease than their counterparts living in communities more embracing of a gay lifestyle.
The study also found higher rates of suicide amongst LGBTI people in homophobic communities and suggested they had a life expectancy 12 years less than their counterparts in tolerant communities.
The findings seemed to suggest LGBTI people who lived in a state of homophobia and discrimination had their health severely hampered by these outside indicators.
“These effects are independent of established risk factors for mortality, including household income, education, gender, ethnicity, and age,” said Dr Mark Hatzenbuehler, an assistant professor of socio-medical sciences who worked on the research.
“Our results for prejudice were comparable to life expectancy differences that have been observed between individuals with and without a high school education.”
The researchers used 20 years of data from the General Social Survey to come up with their findings. The General Social Survey is a biennial questionnaire of 4500 Americans, which gauges levels of gay prejudice in the wider community.
Hatzenbuehler said by the end of the study, 92 per cent of gay respondents in low-prejudice communities were still alive, compared to 78 per cent in high-prejudice neighbourhoods.