New Zealand’s first study on the health and wellbeing of takatāpui and Māori LGBTQI+ peoples shows more must be done to reduce discrimination in health services and in public places.
Led by Te Whāriki Takapou, the Honour Project Aotearoa team included University of Waikato researchers Associate Professor Carl Mika, Dr Tāwhanga Nopera and Herearoha Skipper.
Released this month, the study explored people’s approaches to staying healthy and well in the face of challenging life experiences. It included 50 in-depth interviews and 368 survey responses from Māori who identified as takatāpui or LGBTQI+.
The research found 51% of participants had experienced racism, twice the percentage reported by the general Māori population, and 49% had experienced homophobia. A further 25% had experienced transphobia or misogyny at their GP clinic.
The report showed the concerning impact of discrimination on takatāpui and Māori LGBTQI+ peoples’ health and wellbeing. The majority of participants experienced loneliness, anxiety and depression, and 42% had self-harmed or attempted suicide.
University of Waikato Health Promotion Coordinator Dr Tāwhanga Nopera says the personal stories shared within the research were confronting. “Our whānau takatāpui have been experiencing a lot of harm, and it’s concerning that little is being done to address this harm. These people are our whānau, our koroua, kuia, aunts and uncles, siblings, nieces and nephews,” he says.
“While legislation is important, there is also a need for inclusive language that can help us encourage diversity. We need to embed aroha in the way we talk about what we perceive as difference. We need to increase our collective emotional intelligence as a way to create safe spaces for all people in our communities, especially our whānau takatāpui.”
Dr Nopera says positive gender identity, sexual identity and sexuality are key to our sense of self, self-esteem and ability to lead a fulfilling life.
“But health and wellbeing issues in Aotearoa are usually discussed using a Western heterosexual perspective. This research provides an opportunity to address the invisibility of LGBTQI+ peoples within policy and service provision in primary health care and other settings.”
For more information on the Honour Project Aotearoa, visit Te Whāriki Takapou’s website.