A new survey released today by Stonewall has found that gay, bisexual and lesbian people think that everyone from public services to political parties treat them less favourably because of their sexuality.
1,600 LGB people took part in the online survey by YouGov, the web polling company’s first survey of the gay population.
The results paint a depressing picture of perceived prejudice in Britain.
The Stonewall survey, entitled Serves You Right, covered employment, political representation, housing, health, education, the police, the criminal justice system, and broadcasting.
Nearly one in five lesbian and gay people who responded to the survey said they have experienced bullying from their work colleagues because of their sexual orientation.
The poll indicates that lesbian and gay people in occupational groups C2DE are 50% more likely to experience bullying than those in occupational groups ABC1.
Among those who have experienced bullying, a quarter were bullied by their manager, half by people in their own team and nearly a third by people junior to them.
With regards to political parties, 89% of those polled think they would face barriers from the Conservative party if they wanted to be selected to run for parliament.
61% said the same about Labour and 47% about the Liberal Democrats.
Of those respondents who are party supporters, 71% of Conservatives, 46% of Labour and 28% of Lib Dems thought they would face barriers if they wanted to stand for Parliament.
The BNP topped the poll with 99% thinking they would be treated less favourably, followed by UKIP at 93%.
82% thought Scottish National Party gay, bisexual or lesbian potential candidates would face prejudice from within the party.
The Greens did best with 29%.
84% thought they would face prejudice if they wanted to become a Plaid Cymru MP, despite the fact that one of their two MPs is openly gay.
When asked about running as local councilors, nearly two thirds would expect to face barriers from the Labour Party, nearly nine in ten would expect to face barriers from the Conservative Party, and half would expect to encounter barriers from the Liberal Democrats.
In terms of regional breakdown for the three main parties, respondents in the North East of England were the most pessimistic across the political spectrum.
In housing, one in five lesbian and gay people think they would be treated worse when applying for social housing.
This rises to one in four among young (18-24) and older (over 55) gay people.
Gay women are more likely to expect discrimination when applying for social housing.
14% of respondents in Wales thought they would be treated worse than a heterosexual if they were admitted to hospital in an emergency, compared to 2% in the South West of England.
In education, 27% of lesbian and gay people over the age of 50 experienced homophobic bullying.
Stonewall’s School Report found that 65% of young lesbian and gay people at school in 2007 had experienced homophobic bullying.
Just over half of those now over the age of 50 witnessed homophobic bullying of others while as many as 86% of those now aged 18-24 witnessed homophobic bullying of others.
82% of lesbian and gay people say they would not have felt able to come out at school.
Three in ten lesbian and gay people expect to be treated worse than heterosexuals if they enrol their child in primary or secondary school.
Eighteen to twenty-four year olds are more likely to expect less favourable treatment as a result of being gay.
Four in five lesbian and gay people also expect to face discrimination if they were to apply to become a school governor.
Nine in ten lesbian and gay people would expect to face barriers if they applied to become foster parents.
Lesbian and gay people in Scotland expect to face more significant barriers compared to those in other parts of the UK.
Two in five lesbian and gay parents expect to be treated worse than heterosexuals if they were to appear before a family court in a divorce or custody case.
Nearly half of lesbian and gay people without children anticipate discrimination from a family court judge in the same circumstances.
Lesbian and gay people also expect that they will be treated worse than heterosexuals if they report or commit a crime.
Nearly one in three lesbian and gay people have reported an offence or possible offence to the police in the last 12 months.
More than one in five lesbian and gay people would expect to be treated worse than heterosexuals when reporting a crime if the police officer knew they were lesbian or gay.
Age has a significant bearing on their expectations.
Lesbian and gay people over the age of 50 are twice as likely to think this compared to people aged between 18 and 29.
A quarter of lesbian and gay people in London think they will be treated less favourably if they report a homophobic crime, and this rises to a third of lesbian and gay people in Scotland, Wales, Yorkshire and the East Midlands.
Lesbian and gay people over the age of 50 are even more wary; nearly two in five older lesbian and gay people expect to be treated worse if they report a homophobic hate crime.
More than a third of lesbian and gay people think the police would treat them worse than a heterosexual because of their sexual orientation if they committed a crime or were suspected of committing a crime.
Three in ten lesbian and gay people think that the police would be more likely to stop them than heterosexuals to require them to produce their identity card, were they to be introduced.
Again older gay people are more wary of police with half of lesbian and gay people over the age of 50 saying the police would be more likely to request their identity card than that of a heterosexual.
One in six LGB people think they would be treated worse than heterosexuals if they appeared before a magistrate for a minor offence.
60% of lesbian and gay people would expect to face barriers to becoming a magistrate because of their sexual orientation.
Nearly a quarter of lesbian and gay people think they would be treated worse if they appeared before a judge for a major offence.
Six in ten gay men, and half of women, think they would be treated worse by a prison officer if it was known they were lesbian or gay.
Finally, nearly half of respondents thought the portrayal of lesbian and gay people on television is unrealistic with women and young people more likely to think this.
Lesbian and gay people are twice as likely to think that Channel 4 broadcasts more realistic portrayals of gay people, compared to other terrestrial channels.
Eight in ten lesbian and gay people think Channel 4 will take complaints about homophobia as seriously as, or more seriously than, other complaints.
However they believe ITV and Channel 5 are less likely to take them seriously.
“From police stations to family courts and from housing to health services, gay people remain uncertain of fair treatment, an uncertainty all too often derived from personal experience,” said Stonewall chief executive Ben Summerskill.
“This research provides a powerful reminder that the equality of output which remains central to any aspiration for personalised 21st-century public services is dependent upon moving beyond equality of input.
“People need to be treated differently according, precisely, to the nature of their different needs.
“The insight provided by this report highlights the one remaining gap at the heart of Britain’s legislative equality framework.
“There is not yet a duty on public bodies requiring them to promote equality of service for gay people in the way that already exists for gender, ethnicity and disability.
“The urgency of introducing such a ‘positive duty’ on public bodies is amply illustrated by the compelling new evidence outlined here.”
The total sample size for the YouGov Stonewall poll was 1,658 lesbian, gay and bisexual adults.
Fieldwork was undertaken between 6th and 10th December 2007.
The survey was conducted using an online interview administered to members of the YouGov GB panel of more than 115,000 individuals who have agreed to take part in surveys.
An e-mail was sent to panellists selected because they had indicated they are lesbian, gay or bisexual, inviting them to take part and providing a link to the survey.
The resulting data was analysed and presented by Stonewall.
Respondents who answered “do not know” to questions were excluded from analysis unless statistically significant.
Among the recommendations from Stonewall are:
WORKPLACE: All employers should take steps to prevent discrimination, not just respond to incidents, and actively encourage lesbian and gay people to feel able to be themselves in the workplace.
POLITICS: Political parties should actively encourage lesbian and gay people to become MPs, MSPs, AMs and local councillors.
Similar initiatives should be put in place for lesbian and gay people to those already in place for women and ethnic minorities.
HEALTH AND HOUSING: The NHS and housing services should treat all lesbian and gay people with dignity and respect.
Housing providers need to ensure that all their staff are aware of their legal obligations not to discriminate against lesbian and gay people.
EDUCATION: Schools and local authorities should not only develop policies that comprehensively address antigay bullying but take steps to demonstrate to lesbian and gay people that they’ll be welcome and included in school life and activities.
Local authorities should ensure schools begin to tackle homophobic bullying and support lesbian and gay staff.
Schools should include and respect lesbian and gay parents and encourage them to participate in their school community.
Lesbian and gay people should be encouraged to apply to become school governors.
In the classroom, teachers should encourage pupils to talk about different types of families and the experiences of lesbian and gay people.
POLICE AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE: Police forces should set up independent and anonymous third party reporting systems for homophobic hate crime and appoint lesbian and gay liaison officers.
The Judicial Studies Board must ensure that all judges and magistrates abide by the bench book on equal treatment and promote its existence to the lesbian, gay and bisexual community.
BROADCASTING: Broadcasters must give lesbian and gay licence payers value for money by ensuring that programmes portray realistic representations of lesbian and gay people and their lives.
This means not only the inclusion of gay characters, but the avoidance of stereotypes and the use of plotlines where gay characters’ sexual orientation is incidental rather than being ‘the story.’
Broadcasters should help educate young people about the consequences of homophobia and challenge, rather than copy or even instigate, the casual homophobia used in schools.
Consulting firm Accenture sponsored the survey.
To read the entire Stonewall report, entitled Serves You Right, click here.
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