Current Affairs

Survey finds 5% of gay men face discrimination

Tony Grew January 12, 2007
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In the last year 5% of gay men and 4% of lesbians have been refused goods or services because of their sexuality.

The findings come in the week the House of Lords rejected an attempt by Christian activists to rescind the Sexual Orientation Regulations that came into force in Northern Ireland on January 1st.

The Out Now Diva and Gay Times Readers Surveys questioned more than 1,000 gay men and lesbians in the UK who read Diva or Gay Times.

The government puts the population of adult lesbian and gay people in the country at 3.5 million.

Stonewall have been spearheading the campaign to introduce the new Sexual Orientation Regulations in England and Wales.

Last year, Communities Secretary Ruth Kelly decided to delay their introduction because of the large volume of responses from the public the proposed new rules had generated.

Stonewall chief executive Ben Summerskill said of the survey results, “it doesn’t surprise us at all. It confirms the evidence we had gathered for the campaign. Even 5% is unacceptable.”

Stonewall’s campaign has this week included lobbying peers to vote down a proposal to rescind the Sexual Orientation Regulations, brought forward by the DUP’s Lord Morrow.

The British government chose to implement the regulations in Northern Ireland ahead of England and Wales.

During the debate, Lib Dem peer Baroness Harris gave the House of Lords some examples of the sorts of discrimination LGB people face in accessing goods and services.

“One gay couple from Northern Ireland wrote to Stonewall recently saying why they were turned away late at night from a country hotel which they had booked months before in order to attend a sister’s wedding. They found the experience utterly humiliating.

“Stonewall also says that it heard from a woman who went to see her GP, having suffered from work-related stress.

“When the woman mentioned her lesbian partner in conversation, she was told that she was engaging in unnatural, inhuman practices and that it was none too surprising that she would be suffering from mental distress as a consequence.

“The unnatural, inhuman practices were being perpetrated by the GP. It deeply saddens me to have to say that.

“It is essential that these regulations are accepted by Parliament and that Northern Ireland should lead the way towards a tolerant, caring and humane society.”

Ian Johnson, managing director of Out Now Consulting, which conducted the survey, commented, “we think people will be shocked to learn that so many people during a 12-month period were effectively turned away by organisations that refused to serve them – because they were gay. That is just wrong.

“That sort of thing ought not happen in a modern society if all members of the community are to be treated equally and with respect.”

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