Queering global public places for health and wellbeing
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Discipline of Geography, Western Sydney University, Australia
Healthy Urban Environments Collaboratory, Maridulu Budyari Gumal, Australia
Arup NSW Lighting, Australia
University of Westminster, United Kingdom
Institute of Sustainable Futures, University of Technology Sydney, Australia
ARUP Resilience Security and Risk, Australia
Swiss Centre for Design and Health, Bern University of Applied Sciences, Switzerland
Publication date: 2023-04-27
Popul. Med. 2023;5(Supplement):A1418
The health and wellbeing of people with queer identities (more commonly designated as LGBTIQ, LGBTQ2S+ or LGBTIAQ+ communities) is increasingly becoming a spatially determined global health issue. This adds to a longer existing recognition of particular health care (access) needs of queer people. This workshop invites colleagues to engage with a growing and strengthening global research and practice agenda that represents a unique and powerful partnership between Arup (a multinational professional design and engineering services firm), universities, health services, and local governments. We draw on two recent reports. ‘Queering Public Space’ resulted from collaboration between Arup and the University of Westminster (UK), while the ‘Queering Cities in Australia’ report is the results of a collaborative research project between Arup, Maridulu Budyari Gumal Healthy Urban Environments Collaboratory, Western Sydney University, the University of Technology Sydney and the University of New South Wales. The two reports focus on London and on Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane respectively, they examine how public spaces could be more inclusive for LGBTIAQ+ individuals, families and communities through better accommodation in design, policy and practice for local areas. Follow-up research is currently being developed and implemented. A third study will examine these factors from 2023 onwards, using three urban municipalities in Switzerland (Zurich, Bern, Basel) as an example. Both the British and Australian arms of the project also plan further detailed engagements. Research across various countries has identified how public spaces can be dangerous and exclusionary for LGBTIAQ+ individuals, families and communities. Less work has focused on how to make public spaces safe, welcoming and inclusive, or to ‘usualise’ queerness in the use and design of public spaces. This is important for secure access to public spaces, including: 1. A sense of self-security in public spaces, 2. Safe access to social networks and interaction, 3. Safe access to employment and education opportunities, and 4. The use of open spaces (e.g. parks) for therapeutic and recreational purposes. In the next phase of this work – to commence in 2023 – we will see the report’s recommendations framework taken to a series of workshops with LGBTIAQ+ communities, policymakers and public space planners to develop solutions that might be implemented by local councils to improve the inclusivity of local areas and public spaces. The Bern University of Applied Sciences is continuing this approach in a project together with the University of Bern to investigate design and architectural interventions in public spaces. These outcomes, it should be noted, will be importance in improving access to and enjoyment of the public realm for all users. We hope to engage with the global public health and health promotion community and explore further iterations of this important research and development work.  
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