Hidden desires revealed at groundbreaking conference

Richard Blake talked about his experiences as a service user with a learning disability who is also gay.
Richard Blake talked about his experiences as a service user with a learning disability who is also gay.

In a groundbreaking move for the trust this week, we held our first ever national conference aimed at improving experience of services for people with a learning disability (LD) who are gay, lesbian or bisexual (LGB).

Held at Friends House in Euston on 16 October, Hidden Desires brought together health professionals from across the UK to consider ways in which practice could be improved for people with LD who are also LGB. 

The conference was opened by Paul Ward, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of campaigning gay organisation, the Terrence Higgins Trust, who is also an Oxleas Non Executive Director. During the morning session there were talks focusing on LGB sexual rights and health needs, the need for positive support and an affirming environment, the psychology of being different and what it’s like for a LGB person using LD services. In the afternoon, workshops addressed diverse topics including sexual fetishes in gay men with LD, looking at relationships from a cultural perspective, and monitoring sexual orientation.

The 85 delegates from across the UK who attended included psychiatrists, psychologists, LD professionals and advocates. They represented a range of organisations including the Department of Health, NHS trusts, third sector (voluntary) organisations, local authorities, public health and commissioning bodies.  

Christine Rivers, our Equality and Human Rights Adviser, was one of the conference organisers. She said: “I’m delighted with how the day went. This was a cutting edge event and there was a tremendous buzz throughout the day. The feedback from delegates was overwhelmingly positive and we have already set up a meeting to take forward the work that we began today.”

A follow up meeting will be held on 10 December at Margaret Fell Room, Friends House, Euston from 10am-noon. Anyone interested in progressing this work is welcome to attend. For more information, please contact Simon Powell at simon.powell@oxleas.nhs.uk, Kaye Jones at kaye.jones@oxleas.nhs.uk or Christine Rivers at christine.rivers@oxleas.nhs.uk

Published on 19th October 2012