Issue date
06 Jul 2017

More than one in three (36%) of LGBT people have been harassed or bullied at work, according to a major new study published by the TUC today (Thursday), ahead of Pride in London and the TUC’s LGBT conference.

More than 5,000 LGBT people responded to the survey, making it the most comprehensive workplace survey of LGBT people in the UK.

  • Harassment and discrimination: More than one in three (36%) of LGBT workers have been harassed or bullied at work. Nearly two in five (39%) LGBT workers have been harassed or discriminated against by a colleague, more than one in four (29%) by a manager and around one in seven (14%) by a client or patient. This harassment and discrimination could include anything from “jokes” at the expense of LGBT people, to bullying, or blocking someone’s career development.
  • Being out at work: Only half (51%) of LGBT people – and just one in three (36%) young people – are out or open about their sexuality to all their colleagues at work. More than one in four (27%) of bisexual respondents hide their sexuality at work.
  • “Outing”: Almost one in three (30%) trans respondents have had their trans status disclosed against their will.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Britain is fast becoming a more equal and accepting country. But it’s shocking that in 2017 so many lesbian, gay, bi and trans people around the UK still experience discrimination and harassment at work just because of their sexuality or because they are trans.

“Let’s be clear – homophobia and transphobia at work is undermining, humiliating and can have a huge effect on mental health. LGBT workers are often left feeling ashamed and frightened. It has no place in a modern workplace, or in wider society.

“Employers must be clear that they have a zero tolerance attitude to harassment of their LGBT staff – and stand ready to treat any complaint seriously.

“Many unions have a network for LGBT staff – and reps who are ready to stand up for LGBT workers facing harassment and discrimination. So if you’re worried about what’s going on in your workplace, you should join a union.”

The TUC is calling on the government to:

  • Ban zero-hours contracts, which leave LGBT workers at risk of discrimination as bosses can just withdraw hours from anyone who complains. People who work regular hours should have a right to a written contract guaranteeing those hours every week – and overtime pay if they are needed for more hours.
  • Abolish employment tribunal fees. Fees make it harder for LGBT people who have experienced discrimination or harassment to get justice.
  • Promote LGBT-inclusive equality training in all industries and professions.
  • Make sex and relationship education in schools LGBT inclusive to ensure homophobia, biphobia and transphobia are addressed as early as possible.

ENDS

Case studies:

  • “Male colleagues have made sexually suggestive or offensive comments with regards to my sexual orientation, asking or alluding to my sex life or claiming that they can ‘turn’ me straight.”
  • “I was ‘just’ a receptionist on a zero-hours contract and didn’t want to rock the boat or I wouldn't be offered shifts.”
  • “I was working in retail and a supervisor asked personal questions about my sex life and orientation – for example, my masturbation habits – in front of both colleagues and customers.”
  • By far the most common occurrence of mistreatment was when colleagues would mock my gender/transition openly with customers. Had my shirt torn open to try and expose my chest and ‘out’ me as ‘a man’ in public.”

Notes to Editors:

- The full report is available at: www.tuc.org.uk/sites/default/files/LGBTreport17.pdf
- Twitter: To tweet about this story please use #TUCLGBT
- Methodology:
The TUC wanted to explore in depth the experience of LGBT workers to find out if they continue to face bullying, harassment and discrimination. The research was conducted on Survey Monkey between 1 March and 14 May 2017 and was promoted on social media, receiving 5,074 responses. Few representative national surveys exist of LGBT people. However, recent research from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has summarised the characteristics of LGBT people in the UK. The table below sets out the differences between those in our survey and the national population of LGBT people in the UK. In brief, our survey slightly under-represents LGBT people from a minority ethnic background, and younger LGBT people.

Survey group

Proportion of those responding to our survey in this group

Proportion of the UK LGBT population in this group

Male

53%

56%

Female

42%

44%

Age 16-24

20%

27%

Age 25-34

29%

26%

Age 35-65*

51%

47%

White

94%

92%

BAME

6%

8%

England

84%

85%

Scotland

9%

8%

Wales

5%

4%

Northern Ireland

2%

3%

*These age bands have been combined because the ONS bands for older ages (34-49, 50-64, 65+) did not match the survey bands (35-44, 45-54, 55+) and so no direct comparison was possible.

- All TUC press releases can be found at tuc.org.uk/media
- TUC Press Office on Twitter: @tucnews