World Record attempt?
As election fever suffuses the nation, a quick rewind to the end of 2014 – when we saw the first ever debate in the House of Lords on bisexual, trans and lesbian women’s health.
Baroness Liz Barker opened the debate saying:
“My Lords, in 1999, shortly after I became a Member of your Lordships’ House, I met Lord Campbell of Croy at an event. During our conversation he said, with a note of some pride in his voice, that he had been the Member speaking in your Lordships’ House when the ladies abseiled in from the Gallery to protest against Section 28. Much has changed since then. Section 28 is now history and, as someone who suffers from vertigo, I have to say that I am glad we no longer have to descend by ropes; we can walk in and take our place alongside everybody else in your Lordships’ House.
“Today is historic. This is the first time that we have ever had a debate in this House about lesbians, bisexuals and trans women, and their health needs in particular. I am not turning my back on our gay brothers but I just ask them: today, please don’t rain on our parade.”
She addressed four questions to the government minister on issues around bi, lesbian and trans women’s health:
“The first is to ask when Public Health England will put forward a strategy for promoting the health and well-being of lesbian and bisexual women. There is one for gay men; there is not for lesbians and bisexual women.
“Secondly, will NHS England develop a data standard on sexual- orientation monitoring? At the moment there is no monitoring of the way in which we interact with the NHS.
“Thirdly, the biggest problem is that GPs simply do not know how to talk to us. Can the Minister work with the Royal College of General Practitioners to develop some standards for questions to be asked of patients in a non-pejorative way?
“Lastly, in our work with GPs, could the health outcomes of lesbians and bisexual and transsexual women be part of the overall monitoring of GP practice?
“We are citizens of this country. We are taxpayers. We support the National Health Service. It is only fair that we should expect it to recognise that we exist and should be able to access those services with dignity like everybody else.
The debate perhaps saw the most times the word ‘bisexual’ has been spoken in the Lords in a day. Speakers referenced Stonewall and LGF publications on bi, trans and lesbian women’s health, including the Beyond Babies & Breast Cancer report we reported on last April. There was a ministerial promise of action which we must hope will carry forward past the General Election into whichever government comes next.