A new study has shown that young LGBT+ people in Scotland feel less safe and supported in the healthcare system than in 2017.

Around one-third (29 per cent) said they did not feel safe or supported by their GP, with a similar number (38%) stating that they did not know where to go for information and help with sexual health.

Long waiting times, a misunderstanding of LGBTQ+ identities, and prejudice and discrimination from healthcare staff are all reported as significant barriers faced by participants in the research. Findings also indicated that healthcare systems and process need to be more inclusive, staff need to have an understanding LGBTQ+ identities, and that young people need agency in the choices made around their care.

A total of 1279 participants took part in research by LGBT Youth Scotland, which has been carried out every five years since 2007.

In 2017 81% of respondents said they felt that Scotland was a good place to by LGBT+, but that has fallen to 65% in the latest edition. That figure was lower for trans respondendts, with the number saying Scotland was a good place to live for LGBT+ people falling from 81% to 61%.


Only 17% of young people who took part said they would feel condident in reporting a hate crime to the police - down from 54% in 2012 - while 70% of gay or lesbian participants reported having experienced bullying in school as a result of their sexual orientation.

Overall 37% of people said they felt very happy or happy with their life as an LGBT+ person in Scotland, down from 57% in 2017 and 66% in 2012. For trans people the number was 28%, down from 46% in 2017 and 59% in 2012.

Asked about attitudes in their area, 80% said that homophobia was "a big problem" or "a bit of a problem", with 70% stating that biphobia was.

Of the respondents 59% felt transphobia was "a big problem" in their area and 26% said it was "a bit of a problem". All of those responses were a rise on the 2017 numbers.


There were significant barriers to accessing Gender Identity Services, with average waiting time for a first appointment varying by location from around 2 to almost 5 years, though over half (63%) of trans people who had accessed such services said they felt supported.

In the workplace 54% said they felt they could be their authentic selves while in work or training, with just 44% of disabled LGBT+ people responding that they felt that way.

Around 1 in 5 participants had experienced verbal abuse at work or in training and a 87 similar proportion had been ignored or socially excluded.

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Asked if they felt their experiences were accurately reflected in the media just 19% said yes.

There were, however, rises in the number of people who felt they had received a "supportive" or "very supportive" response to coming out, up to 82% from 75%. 77% of transgender participants reported a supportive/very supportive reaction to their coming out, as compared to 70% in 2017. Only 1% of respondents felt the person they came out to was "very unsupportive".

Asked who the first person they'd come out to - a question which could include multiple answers as many come out to a group - 83% said friends, 23% parents and 16% siblings.

LGBT Youth Scotland CEO, Dr Mhairi Crawford said, “It’s dismaying to see that, during a time when access to timely and appropriate healthcare has become particularly difficult in the UK, LGBTQ+ young people are experiencing multiple additional barriers to accessing the services they need.

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"Long waiting lists, prejudice and discrimination, along with systems which don’t recognise the specific needs of LGBTQ+ young people are all unnecessary barriers to accessing appropriate healthcare.   

"It is vital that, as part of the ongoing work to redevelop NHS services, the Scottish Government and NHS Boards take action to ensure that healthcare services are fully inclusive, and that LGBTQ+ young people do not experience additional barriers to receiving appropriate care due to their identity. In particular, the needs of LGBTQ+ young people must be considered in sexual health and mental health services, and it is absolutely vital that waiting times are reduced for gender identity services.”