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LGBT people’s use of alcohol, tobacco, e-cigarettes and other drugs

Gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) people can be at an increased risk of alcohol, tobacco and other drug problems (Department of Health and Aged Care 2017). These increased risks may come from many sources, including stigma and discrimination, familial issues, and lack of support. 

It is difficult to estimate the number of people in Australia who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans or gender diverse, intersex or queer. This is due to a few factors including an absence of questions in population-based surveys around sex, gender and identity and that most studies to date focus on gay, lesbian, and bisexual people (AIHW 2023). 

The National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS) includes questions on gender and sex recorded at birth. These questions allow for the derivation of cisgender and trans and gender diverse variables in the survey. While some jurisdictions include intersex as an option for birth certificates, which may be captured in the ‘Another term’ response option in the sex at birth question, this option cannot be used as a count of people who have variations of sex characteristics (ABS 2020). Results from the 2022–2023 NDSHS cannot be generated for intersex people.  

In the 2022–2023 NDSHS sample, 5.1% of people aged 14 and over reported that they were gay, lesbian, or bisexual. The 2022–2023 NDSHS survey was the first to include questions representing people who are transgender or gender diverse, and 0.9% of people aged 14 and over reported that they were trans or gender diverse.

Findings for gay, lesbian, and bisexual people are grouped together for data quality purposes, but it is important to note that there are differences in substance use between each population. Similarly, transgender people and other gender diverse people are grouped together for data quality purposes. 

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