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Did you know that LGBTQI* people have a significantly lower chance of a healthy life than the rest of the population in Germany?

March 2022

Since the introduction of same-sex marriage in 2017 and the introduction of the civil status "diverse" in 2018, interest in reliable large-scale studies on the situation of LGBTQI* people in Germany has increased. The legal changes can generally be seen as an improvement, however, lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, queer and intersex (LGBTQI*) people continue to experience severe disadvantages in everyday life.

A Germany-wide study, co-authored by ISS researcher Mirjam Fischer, shows that LGBTQI* people in Germany are almost three times more likely to suffer from depression and burnout than the rest of the population. Also, the proportion of people with heart disease, asthma and chronic back pain is far higher among LGBTQI* people than in the rest of the population. Within the LGBTQI* community, trans* people in particular are disadvantaged in terms of health, as 40% of all trans* people suffer from medically diagnosed anxiety disorders. These findings are consistent with the large body of international studies on this topic.

A large part of these health disparities are due to the fact that LGBTQI* people live in societies which are at their core cis-heterosexist. This means, for example, that they experience discrimination and hostility from their environment, to which the rest of the population is not exposed. Even if there are no concrete experiences of discrimination, many LGBTQI* people go through everyday life with permanent tension due to the high probability of experiencing it. Many LGBTQI* people internalize a negative self-image due to rejection from their environment. International research shows again and again that this leads to chronic stress, which can trigger and worsen health problems.

A meta-analysis of studies on the health disadvantages of LGBTQI* people between 2000 and 2020 finds no evidence that this disadvantage compare to the general population has declined over time. This is a clear signal that discrimination against LGBTQI* people is still anchored in our societies and institutions. It is up to politics to address the equality of LGBTQI* people by furthering fundamental legal and social change.