Following the recent UN International Day of Older Persons on October 1st, we at Opening Doors are encouraged by the statement from three United Nations rights experts that draws attention to the pressing concerns of many older LGBT people. These individuals face disproportionate threats of violence and discrimination, especially in today’s challenging and often incredibly hostile environment for the LGBTQ+ community. The UN’s acknowledgement of their experiences and struggles is a step in the right direction.

The statement echoes and amplifies what our members, all of whom are LGBTQ+ people over 50, have been telling us for many years. There’s a history and ongoing trend of older LGBTQ+ individuals facing discrimination and prejudice, which has heightened their risk of mental health issues. It is well documented by many organisations, including the Royal College of Nursing and Age UK, that older LGBTQ+ people are more prone to isolation and loneliness. These individuals often live alone, lack close familial ties and have unique challenges accessing care services. They confront heteronormative presumptions in elder care, which disregards their chosen families, particularly in matters of end-of-life care, funerals, inheritance and memorials.

We wholeheartedly support the nine recommendations proposed by the United Nations experts, aimed at countering the violence and discrimination that disproportionately impacts the rights and enjoyment of older LGBTQ+ people. The recommendations range from recognising the issue of structural ageism to launching public awareness programmes to combat stigma, stereotypes and bias. It also highlights the importance of educating and training housing, health and social care workers, as well as consulting with groups that recognise and support older LGBTQ+ needs.

At Opening Doors, we can attest to the fact that change only occurs with a whole-system approach, which is why we offer this across all work that we do. We engage with LGBTQ+ elders through community events, activities and our befriending service. We also train organisations to be responsive to their unique needs and back our actions with research-driven insights. Our mission is to create a better world for LGBTQ+ people over 50 in the UK, and we want to collaborate with partners who share our vision. The UN’s recognition is a hopeful sign on this journey.


Want to show your support for LGBTQ+ people over 50? You can make a donation to Opening Doors or purchase our festive cards.