LGBT dementia care: Changes in society

Find out about changes in society for LGBT people in recent history and how they can affect those living with dementia today. 

Many people with dementia are over 65. However, it is possible for people under 65 to develop dementia. Older LGBT people in the UK have experienced significant changes in the law, and in society’s attitudes towards LGBT people. LGBT people of any age will be aware of this history and it can have an impact on all LGBT people. For example:

  • Until 1967, sex between men was against the law in England and Wales (and until 1982 in Northern Ireland).
  • Until 1973, homosexuality was listed as a mental illness in the manual used by mental health professionals in the UK.
  • In 1980, ‘gender identity disorder‘ was added to the list of disorders in the manual used by mental health professionals in the UK.
  • In the 1980s, the AIDS epidemic developed, which affected large numbers of gay men in the UK. It also affected people’s attitudes towards gay men.

In recent years, there have been a number of positive changes in the law for LGBT people:

  • In 2004, the Gender Recognition Act was introduced, allowing transgender people the opportunity to have their chosen gender legally recognised via a gender recognition certificate. For more information see ‘Gender recognition certificate' below.
  • In 2004, the Civil Partnerships Act was also introduced, allowing same-sex couples to have their relationships legally recognised.
  • In 2013, the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act was introduced in England and Wales, enabling same-sex couples to get married.

Although these more recent changes have been much more positive, it is important to remember that the person is likely to have lived through many of the negative experiences listed above too. They may have affected the person’s identity or understanding of the world. They may also have an impact on how they cope day to day.

LGBT people may be less likely to access the care and support they need, and may feel they are likely to experience discrimination. This can put the person and those supporting them under a lot of strain. It is important to be aware of the experiences that they may have had as an LGBT person in the past and how they may affect them today.