Seven in ten LGBT people have been sexually harassed at work
A new report has found that seven in ten LGBT people have experienced some form of sexual harassment while at work.
The report, published by the Trades Union Congress (TUC), found that two-thirds of those who reported being sexually harassed at work hadn’t reported the behaviour to their employers. One in four of those didn’t report it due to fear of being ‘outed’ at work.
The survey, which marks the first major study into LGBT sexual harassment at work in Great Britain, also found that more than two in five LGBT people had encountered unwelcome comments and questions from their colleagues regarding their sexuality and sex life.
Over one fifth (21 per cent) of LGBT women reported experiencing sexual assault, such as unwanted touching or attempts to kiss them. One in eight (12 per cent) LGBT women said they had been seriously sexually assaulted or raped at work, compared to one in fourteen (7 per cent) of men.
More than half (54 per cent) of LGBT BME women said they had experienced unwanted touching at work, 45 per cent reported sexual assault and 27 per cent reported serious sexual assault or rape.
Four in ten gay, bisexual and trans BME men reported unwelcome verbal sexual advances compared to just over two in ten (23 per cent) GBT white men.
Half (50 per cent) of LGBT disabled women reported unwanted touching, while nearly four in ten (38 per cent) reported sexual assault and 24 per cent reported serious sexual assault or rape. More than one in four (28 per cent) of disabled men reported sexual assault.
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Research identifies a ‘hidden epidemic’ in sexual harassment
“This research reveals a hidden epidemic,” TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said.
“In 2019 LGBT people should be safe and supported at work. But instead, they’re experiencing shockingly high levels of sexual harassment and assault.”
“Workplace culture needs to change. No one should think that a colleague being LGBT is an invitation for sexualised comments or inappropriate questions – let alone serious acts of assault.”
— Frances O’Grady
The report also found that more than half (53 per cent) of LGBT women had experienced unwelcome jokes of a sexual nature, as had over four in ten gay, bisexual and trans (GBT) men (44 per cent).
One trans lesbian respondent explained how they had heard colleagues make derogatory comments about them. “I walked into a room in the middle of them discussing gang raping me,” they told TUC.
The report calls for a new duty on employers to properly protect all staff members from being sexually harassed at work, while TUC has urged the government to introduce a statutory code of practice on sexual harassment at work.
“Government must change the law to put the responsibility for preventing harassment on employers, not victims. And anyone worried about sexual harassment at work should join a union,” added O’Grady.