Clients and staff from CPA, Afford and Northcott celebrate the 2024 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras with the Ourtopia-themed float. (Facebook)
Clients and staff from CPA, Afford and Northcott celebrate the 2024 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras with the Ourtopia-themed float. (Facebook)
2 min read

Cerebral Palsy Alliance (CPA) and Western Sydney University (WSU) have joined forces on a groundbreaking four-year research project to address the long-neglected issue of sexual healthcare for LGBTQA+ individuals with disabilities.

Funded by the Australian government’s Medical Research Future Fund, this study will be the first of its kind in Australia.

The research aims to create a more inclusive healthcare environment and address the unique challenges faced by LGBTQA+ people with disabilities.


“These issues have serious consequences for the physical and mental wellbeing, as well as the overall quality of life for LGBTQA+ individuals with disabilities,” said Dr Rosalie Power, Research Fellow and Project Lead, Translational Health Research Institute, Western Sydney University.

Discrimination and societal bias often lead to the sexual health needs of this group being overlooked.

“There is a lack of appropriate information about sexual health, which can make accessing healthcare challenging for people with disability.” Dr. Power explained.

This lack of access can have serious consequences, including delayed diagnoses of preventable diseases and a reluctance to report sexual assault.

Brisbane-based disability advocate Elly Desmarchelier. (Supplied)
Brisbane-based disability advocate Elly Desmarchelier. (Supplied)

Brisbane disability advocate Elly Desmarchelier highlighted the intersection of identity.

“My queerness is as intricate to my identity as my disability, ” Desmarchelier said.

“They are both important and neither one, alone, defines who I am. Despite this, all my life I’ve seen well-meaning people very quick to make assumptions based on my disability and ignore my sexuality completely. I hope this research can go some way to breaking down those assumptions.

“Disabled people love, desire, and have relationships just like anyone else. Our feelings and desires are valid, and we deserve acknowledgment and acceptance as sexual beings. ”

The research team recognizes the current lack of resources available to both healthcare providers and the disability sector itself.

Nadia Badawi, Chair of the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Institute said the rates of adult sexual assault and child sexual abuse are disproportionately high in LGBTQA+ people with disabilities.

“This project involves collaboration with people with lived experience, sexual healthcare, and disability service providers,” Badawi said.

“We hope the outcomes of this report will reduce fear, drive change, and provide tools, information and support to people who really need it.”

Nadia Badawi, Chair, Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Institute. (Supplied)
Nadia Badawi, Chair, Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Institute. (Supplied)

The goal is to develop an evidence-based model of sexual healthcare specifically tailored to the needs of LGBTQA+ people with disabilities.

With over 739,000 Australians identifying as both LGBTQA+ and having a disability, this research has the potential to significantly improve the lives of many.

By addressing societal pressures to conform and the lack of resources, the project can help ensure that LGBTQA+ people with disabilities feel safe, accepted, and empowered to embrace all aspects of their identity.

Last Updated on May 15, 2024

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