Walks from London Pride in the 1980s

LGBTQ+ people are facing a cost of coming out crisis


Pride is and always has been a protest. Back in 1970 in the U.S. and 1972 in the UK, the original Liberation Marches were radical acts of self-acceptance and love. However, in the context of the 70s, feeling proud of being queer was a defiant act of protest facing the shame and persecution from both society and the media. In fact, the early Gay Liberation movement kept protest at the core of all its activities. Queer activists toyed with the slogan of ‘Gay Power,’ and built protest tactics into the foundation of Pride through ‘gay-ins’ and ‘kiss-ins’, inspired by the sit-ins of the Civil Rights Movement in the 50s and 60s. And this duality of Pride has been ever-present throughout the years. While Pride has increasingly grown over the years and spread across the globe, the core principles remain the same – to celebrate queer identity and demonstrate for equality.

Pride has always been at the forefront of queer protest, leading to real tangible change for the LGBTQ+ community. From societal acceptance and understanding of LGBTQ+ people, to combatting HIV stigma, to changing government legislation such as repealing Section 28 and passing the Marriage Equality Act. In recent years, it has increasingly focused on standing up for transgender rights in the face of growing discrimination and transphobia. Pride is an opportunity to magnify queer voices onto a global platform that is willing to listen to LGBTQ+ issues. That’s why this year, we’re using it to fight for their healthcare rights.

In their LGBT in Britain report, Stonewall found that 1 in 8 LGBTQ+ people aged 18 to 24 had attempted to end their life in the year preceding the survey, and almost half of trans people had thought about ending their life.1 The report also showed that a staggering 52% of LGBTQ+ people experience depression, and 3 in 5 LGBTQ+ people experience anxiety.1 These stats are extremely high when seen against the general population, where a survey suggested that 1 in 6 people in England experience symptoms of a common mental health problem such as anxiety and depression.2

Beyond mental health, some LGBTQ+ people are also feeling disenfranchised with healthcare services. Perhaps in part due to a lack of relevant LGBTQ+ training, almost 1 in 4 LGBTQ+ people have witnessed discriminatory or negative remarks against LGBTQ+ people by healthcare staff. 1 in 7 LGBTQ+ people reported they’ve avoided treatment altogether for fear of discrimination.1

LGBTQ+ communities have disproportionately worse health outcomes and experiences of healthcare compared to their cisgender, heterosexual counterparts.3 For instance, in the latest GP patient survey, trans and non-binary adults were more likely than the general population to experience long-term health conditions, including dementia, learning disabilities and mental health conditions.4 Transgender and non-binary individuals are facing an impossible choice with accessing gender-affirming care too, with NHS waiting lists of 5+ years to make an initial appointment, they’re often left to foot tens of thousands of pounds to access gender-affirming surgery. 5,6

NHS staff are also facing the same challenges themselves. Our Healing the Healers whitepaper outlined that HCPs are experiencing ever increasing levels of burnout with more HCPs than ever leaving the profession mid-career. From an LGBTQ+ perspective, discrimination in the workplace has led 1 in 8 LGB NHS employees, and 1 in 3 trans employees to consider leaving or actually leave their job.7 In the midst of a workforce crisis, these statistics paint a shocking picture of the experience of LGBTQ+ healthcare professionals. The fact remains that when we lose queer healthcare staff, queer patients lose as well. The solidarity and understanding that LGBTQ+ doctors offer is, and always will be, an invaluable asset to our NHS – and it’s certainly something we can’t afford to lose.

It’s clear that the NHS is committed to doing better for LGBTQ+ patients and staff. Over a third of NHS trusts have signed up to be assessed through the NHS Rainbow Badge scheme for how well they reduce the barriers LGBTQ+ people face when accessing healthcare. And yet, this government funded scheme has reportedly been quietly shut down behind the scenes this year. Whistleblowers have reported that UK government officials have encouraged NHS bosses to pull funding of LGBTQ+ inclusion – and especially trans inclusion programmes. Programmes that could directly change healthcare for LGBTQ+ people for the better. Multiple charities and organisations including Stonewall, who were originally partnering with the NHS in this scheme, have been suddenly ‘ghosted’ and had their funding pulled. They reported that the Rainbow Badge scheme had ‘wound down to nothing’.8

Now more than ever, we have to do something about the growing healthcare crisis LGBTQ+ people are facing. Recent data shows that hate crime rates against LGBTQ+ people have risen 112% in the last 5 years, and transgender hate crime rates have risen even more, a staggering 186% in the last 5 years.9 Now is the time to act, to ensure that our healthcare systems are set up to see LGBTQ+ people live healthy and happy lives.

This year at Havas Lynx we’re dedicating our Pride output to fight what we’re calling the Cost of Coming Out Crisis. Because while we celebrate Pride and the progress we’ve made, the LGBTQ+ community is still paying the cost of being out and proud every single day. Over the month of June, we’ll be spreading awareness of the healthcare cost of being openly queer for Pride month. For Manchester Pride, in August, we’ll be creating a larger campaign to urge government to keep their promise to make healthcare services accessible and welcoming to LGBTQ+ people.

This article was made possible by the LGBTQ+ community, written by Lydia Martin, Henry Murray, Charlotte Burton and Jade Sweeney on behalf of Havas Lynx.

For more information, or if you would like to partner with Havas Lynx for this campaign, please contact Amy Priestley – amy.priestley@havas.com



  1. Stonewall. 2018. LGBT in Britain Health Report. Report available at: https://www.stonewall.org.uk/system/files/lgbt_in_britain_health.pdf
  2. NHS digital. Mental health and wellbeing in England: Adult psychiatric morbidity survey 2014. Available at: https://files.digital.nhs.uk/pdf/q/3/mental_health_and_wellbeing_in_england_full_report.pdf. Accessed: May 2024.
  3. NHS England. LGBT health. Available at: https://www.england.nhs.uk/about/equality/equality-hub/patient-equalities-programme/lgbt-health/. Accessed May 2024.
  4. Saunders CL, et al. BMJ Open 2023;13:e068099.
  5. BBC News. 2024. Life on an NHS transgender waiting list. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-68588724#:~:text=Waiting%20lists%20for%20all%20kinds,target%20of%20just%2018%20weeks. Accessed May 2024.
  6. TransUnite. 2023. Top Tips on How to Pay for Gender Reassignment Surgery. Available at: https://www.transunite.co.uk/top-tips-on-how-to-pay-for-gender-reassignment-surgery/. Accessed: May 2024.
  7. British Medical Association. 2022. Sexual orientation and gender identity in the medical profession. Available at: https://www.bma.org.uk/media/6340/bma-sogi-report-2-nov-2022.pdf. Accessed: May 2024.
  8. Vice. UK Government Secretly Shuts Down NHS Pride Programme. Available at: https://www.vice.com/en/article/ak38ak/uk-government-shuts-down-nhs-lgbtq-diversity-program-rainbow-badge-scheme. Accessed: May 2024.
  9. Stonewall. New data: Rise in hate crime against LGBTQ+ people continues, Stonewall slams UK Gov ‘inaction’. Available at: https://www.stonewall.org.uk/about-us/news/new-data-rise-hate-crime-against-lgbtq-people-continues-stonewall-slams-uk-gov-. Accessed May 2024.