Minister O’Neill committed to improving rural living for LGB&/T community

Agricultural and Rural Development Minister Michelle ONeill reads over new research into the experiences of LGB&/T people living in rural areas with Rainbow Project Director John O'Doherty. Photo Sion Graham/Harrison Photography
Agricultural and Rural Development Minister Michelle ONeill reads over new research into the experiences of LGB&/T people living in rural areas with Rainbow Project Director John O'Doherty. Photo Sion Graham/Harrison Photography
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Agricultural and Rural Development Minister Michelle O’Neill has welcomed new research into the experiences of LGB&/T people living in rural areas.

The report findings will be used to inform and develop policy areas in DARD and can be used by other government departments in the development of their policies.

“DARD provided funding of £5,000 towards research aimed at exploring issues faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in rural areas of the north to see what their experiences are in terms of work place experiences, family life, accessing relevant healthcare and support services as well as the ability to be open about sexual orientation in the community.”

Michelle O’Neill, Minister of Agricultural and Rural Development

“DARD provided funding of £5,000 towards research aimed at exploring issues faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in rural areas of the north to see what their experiences are in terms of work place experiences, family life, accessing relevant healthcare and support services as well as the ability to be open about sexual orientation in the community,” explained Minister O’Neill.

The research, carried out by the Rainbow Project, found that LGB&/T people living in rural areas:

* experience poorer outcomes than those living in an urban area;

* are less likely to be ‘out’ than those living in an urban area;

* are more likely to experience depression and less likely to seek help;

* are less likely to have an LGB&/T service or organisation in their local area;

* are less likely to attend for sexual health screening compared to those living in an urban area;

* are less likely to be ‘out’ in work and less likely to know someone else who is LGB&/T in their workplace; and

* more than half of LGB&/T people who have always lived in a rural area have felt compelled to move to a more urban area.

The Minister added: “This is the first specific study of its kind and the report provides us with a great opportunity to examine how DARD, and other government departments, can address any issues of inequality and improve access to relevant services and support.

“I am fully committed to equality and my officials will continue to work closely with the Rainbow Project in taking forward key issues relevant to LGB&/T people especially when it comes to improving their quality of life in rural areas.”

More than 400 people responded to the “Experiences of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people in rural areas” survey with 69.5% of responses from males, 30.5% from females and 6.8% from trans or gender variant people.

The report can be downloaded from http://www.rainbow-project.org/assets/publications/OUTstanding%20in%20your%20field.pdf.