In Nigeria, 201 the Same sex marriage prohibition (SSMP) being bill passed into the law in Nigeria, with a 14-year imprisonment sentence for defaulters. Before this, there had always been the bias of a majority of people towards the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community. This manifests in employment, housing, religious spaces, and schools, with a fair share of the discrimination from the healthcare space, and reports show that the SSMPA, had aided more discriminant acts towards the LGBT community.
Particularly for access to healthcare, ethical dilemmas do exist for healthcare workers all over the world, who have reservations towards LGBT people but are bound by duty to provide care for all. The Deutsche Welle reported that “In Malawi, colonial-era laws on homosexuality may have been suspended, but LGBT people face ridicule and religious bigotry when trying to access something as necessary and prosaic as medical treatment”. In an interview with an eighteen-year-old gay boy by the Deutsche Welle, he recounted a situation where the nurse, after routine diagnosis, told him he was evil and was doomed because God does not allow one to be gay.
The queer community has special healthcare needs and a need for healthcare workers who are not only LGBT friendly, but LGBT competent, hence, a gap. Cultural competence in healthcare refers to the capacity to provide effective medical care to persons of varied backgrounds, through use of appropriate knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviours. The National Centre for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), stated specific recommendations to create culturally competent health care for LGBT people as: educating staff on specific health disparities experienced by these communities and how to collect sexual and social history, using gender-neutral language on forms and communication, refraining from making assumptions about a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity by asking directly about identity and sexual behaviour, displaying LGBT-friendly symbols, and registering with the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association’s online directory.
But here is the catch, in a country like Nigeria where such law as the SSMPA exists, culturally competent care for the LGBT community is almost a mirage, placing the ‘Health for all’ movement by the World Health Organisation quite far from our reach. Until the health space in Nigeria realises that care should be rendered to all and commit to training her health workforce to render competent care to the LGBT community, we might just be very far from achieving health for all.
Chisom Mbama is a Registered Nurse, a Christian blogger and a computer programmer. She also contributes to a yearly children devotional.
She can be found on Instagram @chisommbama