Recent research in epidemiology, clinical care and psychosocial fields has indicated the need to explore lesbian health needs and address barriers to wellness (Solarz, 1999). It is estimated that up to 10 percent of women are lesbian, although estimates vary depending on how the category of lesbian is defined (Laumann, in Solarz, 1999). Lesbians are mothers and daughters, young and old, members of Aboriginal, immigrant, visible minority and dominant cultural communities. Lesbians live with disabilities and are able-bodied, come from all class backgrounds and live in both rural and urban areas. Some lesbians are transgendered. To be responsive to all members of our communities, we need to address the specific needs and issues of diverse groups.
The World Health Organization states that health is a basic human right (WHO Constitution, 1946), recognizing that all people deserve equal access to health services and quality care. Everyone has the right to be treated with respect, and to receive care in a setting free from discrimination. However, lesbians may encounter difficulty accessing health care. Lesbians who come from other marginalized communities (visible minority, immigrant or Aboriginal communities for example) face additional barriers.
The steps we take to make health care accessible to lesbians are building blocks for making the system respectful of difference and attentive to the needs of other groups. These steps are not about special interests; they are the foundations of good practice and reflect our broadening concept of health and our