Nine MSPs back GCU report calling for better alcohol services support for LGBTQ+ community

Nine MSPs have backed calls for the LGBTQ+ community to be fully supported by alcohol services following a report by GCU researchers.

They signed a letter of support after the launch of the report ‘What are LGBTQ+ people’s experiences of alcohol services in Scotland? A qualitative study of service users and service providers’ at a successful Scottish Parliament event.

The letter to Maree Todd, Minister for Public Health, Women’s Health and Sport, asked for the LGBTQ+ community to be fully supported by alcohol services, and for the upcoming UK Alcohol Treatment Guidelines to include the LGBTQ+ community as a group with specific needs.

MSPs met for a Members’ Business Debate on recommendations made by GCU’s Substance Use Research Group in the recent report funded by Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (SHAAP).

Emma Roddick, MSP for Highlands and Islands and Co-Convenor of the Scottish Parliament’s LGBTQ+ Cross Party Group, led the debate on how services for people with alcohol problems in the LGBTQ+ community can be made more effective in meeting their specific needs.

The motion for debate endorsed recommendations contained in the report led by Professor Carol Emslie with Dr Elena Dimova, Dr Rosaleen O’Brien, Professor Lawrie Elliott and Dr Jamie Frankis, from the University’s Substance Use and Sexual Health and Blood Borne Viruses research groups in the Research Centre for Health (ReaCH).

Following the launch of the report, Paul O’Kane MSP sponsored a further event in the Scottish Parliament, which featured presentations by Professor Carol Emslie and Dr Elena Dimova, and was attended by representatives from the Scottish Government, many third sector organisations, NHS, various Royal Colleges and nine MSPs from different parties.

The event was also an opportunity for the MSPs to sign the letter to the Minister for Public Health, Women’s Health and Sport.

MSPs who signed the letter were Paul O’Kane, Emma Roddick, Gillian Mackay, Audrey Nicholl, Jackie Dunbar, Joe FitzPatrick, Tess White, Pam Duncan-Glancy and Monica Lennon.

The report investigated both service users’ and providers’ experiences, and highlights the central role of alcohol in the LGBTQ+ community and the barriers that this community faces when trying to access treatment and support.

Professor Emslie said: “We are delighted by the positive response from MSPs at the Scottish Parliament event, and that Maree Todd, Minister for Public Health, Women’s Health and Sport, has shared our research with UK government officials.

“The LGBTQ+ community experience disproportionate harm from alcohol, so it is vital that their needs are addressed in the forthcoming UK Guidelines for Alcohol Treatment.”

GCU’s research strategy is underpinned by the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. The study contributes to the Goals of gender equality, reduced inequalities and good health and wellbeing.

SHAAP said the response was “extremely positive, and we are delighted that not only the Scottish Government, but the UK government are considering the recommendations of our report and activity around it”.

The photograph (left to right) shows SHAAP Director Elinor Jayne, Minister for Public Health, Women’s Health and Sport Maree Todd, Professor Carol Emslie and Dr Elena Dimova at the Scottish Parliament.

The full report can be downloaded here – https://www.shaap.org.uk/downloads/reports/408-lgbtq-alcohol-services-2022.html

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