LGBT community still faces public healthcare discrimination in South Africa


A new report that looks at community-led healthcare delivery to LGBT people in South Africa has found that these individuals continue to experience discrimination when accessing public healthcare services.

The Quality Through Inclusion? report was produced as a collaboration between OUT LGBT Well-being, Triangle Project and the Gender, Health and Justice Research Unit at the University of Cape Town and was funded by COC Netherlands.

It is based on research conducted in 2018 and 2019 among 408 respondents from LGBT communities. The findings reveal that 20% of LGBT individuals reported that they have faced stigmatisation and bad treatment when accessing public healthcare services.

Even more alarming, 11% of the respondents revealed that they’d actually been deprived of healthcare services. In addition, 25% said they’d been subjected to moral and religious-based lectures by public health staff when disclosing their sexuality and/or gender identity.

It’s therefore not surprising that LGBT community members are often uncomfortable in disclosing their sexual orientation/gender identity, fearing discrimination and stigma (22% of those surveyed did not disclose).

“This deters LGBT individuals from accessing public healthcare services which can be detrimental to their health,” says Moude Maodi-Swartz, Paralegal Officer at OUT LGBT Well-being. “This is especially concerning when considering that 84% of the South African population is solely dependent on public health services.”

In addition to an overburdened healthcare system, subjective beliefs and norms based on patriarchal and religious views are also cited as contributing factors to the stigma and exclusion experienced by LGBT individuals.

“The report highlights the continued need for civil society organisation interventions to respond to the high rate of violations within the overburdened public healthcare system and ensure that marginalised communities receive the care and services they require; discriminatory-free, competent and patient centralised,” says Maodi-Swartz.

The full Quality Through Inclusion? report can be downloaded here. For more information, please contact Moude Maodi-Swartz on

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