Harm Reduction for GBT2Q People who Use Drugs

via HIV Legal Network

Stigma kills.

From experience, 2SLGBTQ+ people know this. And people who use drugs know this.

The use of both legal and criminalized substances plays a significant role in the lives of many people who identify as 2SLGBTQ+. This role can be both positive and negative.

As Pride season kicks off across the country, we’re releasing Connection, Care, Community, a pair of new resources aimed at challenging stigma and protecting the health of GBT2Q* people who use drugs.

• Read the new Summary Report, which reviews the evidence about substance use — including problematic use — among GBT2Q people and includes insights from queer people working in the field of harm reduction.

• Check out the Agenda for Action, which presents nearly 30 recommendations for action in multiple areas. including: improving data collection; challenging stigma through public education; making services more accessible; ensuring 2SLGBTQ+ communities are more inclusive and strengthen their advocacy for sensible drug policy; enhancing funding for the health of GBT2Q people who use drugs; and enacting key legal and policy reforms.

It’s a fitting time to highlight the needs of this often-overlooked community. It’s also a fitting time to make the connections between the health and rights of queer people and the health and rights of people who use drugs.

We’ve seen a growing number of anti-2SLGBTQ+ initiatives around the country. And even as the drug poisoning crisis continues, we’re seeing a growing backlash against even the most basic steps toward safe supply and decriminalization, and against long-established, evidence-based harm reduction initiatives.

It’s no coincidence that these are both facets of the rising anti-rights movement. Stoking misinformation and fear about the “other” has long been a way for some politicians to scare up votes, misdirecting anger and resentment at convenient scapegoats. Given the stigma and strong emotions surrounding sex — especially gay sex — and drugs, they’re easy buttons to push.

This is one reason it’s important for communities to make common cause in defending human rights and defending evidence-based measures to protect health. As we told a Parliamentary committee during their 2019 study into the health of 2SLGBTQ+ communities:

Drug policy affects the health of queer people and communities. The health of queer people who use drugs must not be overlooked in our fight for sensible drug policy. And 2SLGBTQ+ rights organizations must not ignore the rights and health of queer people who use drugs.

Our new resources aim to raise awareness and build these connections — and, ultimately, to protect people’s health and save lives.

Check out the new HIV Legal Network resources.


* Cisgender gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (GBMSM) who use drugs, but also trans, non-binary, and Two-Spirit people who have sex with men — and for whom HIV and STBBIs are similarly a concern. All these populations of concern are referred to collectively here as “GBT2Q people.” (Connection, Care, Community: Strengthening harm reduction for GBT2Q people who use drugs in Canada. Agenda for Action, P. 1)