Pride 2023: LGBTQ+ Inclusion in Pharmacology – are we there yet? 

Published: 08 Jun 2023

June marks Pride month in the UK, and as part of our commitment to supporting our LGBTQ+ pharmacology community, we want to hear your thoughts about LGBTQ+ inclusion in pharmacology. 

Over recent decades, there have been a number of pharmacology-related milestones for LGBTQ+ people in the UK. From the development of and access to PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis), a drug used to reduce the risk of getting HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), to access to hormone therapy which, for some trans people, can be an important part of their transition and affirmation of gender, there are many ways in which pharmacology is helping to bring about progress to the community. 

As well as drug development and discovery, there have been improvements in the clinical space that now make it easier for LGBTQ+ people to receive healthcare treatment. Over recent years there has been a bid to raise better awareness of cervical cancer screening among LGBTQ+ people. This includes a recent campaign by LGBTQ+ charity Live Through This, which is more inclusive of trans and non-binary people who require screenings and helps to dispel the harmful myth that lesbian women do not need to be screened. 

In 2022, the new Women’s Health Strategy for England outlined plans to provide more equitable access to fertility treatment for all women, regardless of sexuality, where previously women in same-sex partnerships previously faced a significant financial barrier to receive it. The Strategy also called for research to be more representative of society, and specifically includes lesbian and bisexual women in this call; underrepresentation in research is something the Society is also keen to address, and could be key to improving treatment for all of society, including LGBTQ+ people, in the future. 

These advancements should all be celebrated, but they do not tell the full story of receiving healthcare services as an LGBTQ+ person in the UK today; there is still an urgent need for progress. Likewise, there are still academic and career barriers for LGBTQ+ people, which in turn impacts the diversity of our pharmacology community. For Pride 2020, Aidan Seeley wrote a blog for the Society which, unfortunately, still rings true – there are still few prominent LGBTQ+ pharmacologists, physical and mental health inequality still exists for LGBTQ+ people, and discrimination is often still present for those working in STEM and academia

In 2022, the NHS Confederation published their Health and Care LGBTQ+ Inclusion Framework, which explores these issues. They identified the following ‘pillars’, on which they have based their recommendations for improvement: 

“1. We have visible leadership and confident staff  

2. We have a strong knowledge base  

3. We are non-heteronormative and non-cisnormative in everything we do  

4. We take responsibility for collecting and reporting data 

5. We listen to our service users  

6. We proactively seek out partners to co-deliver services” 

The central theme of this list of recommendations is to commit to listening and learning in order to understand the topic at hand. Listening is a key part of the Society’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion work, and to help us learn more about your thoughts and experiences about LGBTQ+ inclusion in pharmacology and healthcare, we ask you to answer the following questions: 

Question 1: Which pharmacologists, advancements in drug development, or other improvements to healthcare services, do you think have made a difference to the LGBTQ+ community? 

Question 2: What do you think could be done to improve LGBTQ+ representation in the pharmacology community, and to improve LGBTQ+ drug and treatment access in the UK? 

We would like to write a follow-up blog featuring your answers and perspectives and encourage you to get involved if you would like to contribute. Please email with your answers to the questions, or any additional thoughts you may have, and please let us know if you’d prefer your response to be unpublished or anonymous. 

Pride is all about celebrating the community, joining together in celebrating progress made so far, and spotlighting the areas where inequality still exists – and within pharmacology, the conversations need to be had urgently to ensure future generations benefit from more inclusive practices, from bench to bedside. 


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Chloe Gynne


Chloe is the Managing Editor for Pharmacology Matters, working closely with the Editorial Board to ensure smooth publication of the magazine. She is also the Society's Communications Manager, with a specific interest in developing useful and informative content for pharmacology professionals and members of the general public alike.