Human rights and international law expert Professor Hilary Charlesworth, says that Australia's appointment to the UN Human Rights Council gives the country an opportunity to examine its own human rights record.
Previous research has shown that lesbians and bisexual women drink two or three times more than heterosexual women, but there hasn’t been significant analysis of why this is the case.
The study, led by the University of Melbourne in conjunction with the Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre and Monash University, hopes to answer this question.
“We know that lesbians and bisexual women drink more heavily and for longer in their lives,” lead researcher Associate Professor Ruth McNair said.
“It’s common for this community to consume alcohol at a high frequency well into their 50s and 60s, while other demographics typically slow their alcohol consumption.
“This research seeks to better understand whether this drinking culture originates from the internalized stigma felt by the lesbian and bisexual community and has the flow on effects that high alcohol consumption accompanies: such as depression, anxiety and high suicide rates.”
The study will also investigate whether the drinking culture has any positive effects, such as increasing social connectivity by creating a supportive community of women.
“As a minority group, there has not been a lot of research into how lesbians and bisexual women deal with their marginalization, and whether this influences other health related issues,” Associate Professor McNair said.
“Behavior that can often accompany high levels of drinking includes risk taking and exposure to abuse and violence. In the case of lesbian and bisexual women, this can contribute to high risk sexual behavior and unprotected or unwanted sex.”
Turning Point Director Professor Dan Lubman said there had been very little research in this area.
“This study will help us develop training programs that ensure treatment services provide culturally appropriate advice and care,” he said.
Same-sex attracted women aged 18 years and over are invited to participate in the study’s online survey at: www.alicestudy.net.au.
Associate Professor Ruth McNair
0419 120 663