Issue date
04 Aug 2017

Press release: Immediate release on Wed 2 August 

TUC finds one in three LGBT people are still harassed or bullied at work

More than one in three (36%) of LGBT people have been harassed or bullied at work, according to a major study published by the TUC, ahead of Plymouth Pride.  

Over 5,000 LGBT people responded to the UK's most comprehensive workplace survey of LGBT people.

South West TUC Regional Secretary Nigel Costley said:

“Britain is fast becoming a more equal and accepting country, and the Pride festival is a wonderful way to celebrate this progress. 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.”

Harassment and discrimination:

Harassment and discrimination from colleagues was the most common complaint - nearly two in five (39%). It can include anything from jokes and insults at the expense of LGBT people, to bullying, or blocking someone’s career development.

Almost a third of respondents (29%) have also experienced harassment and discrimination from a manager, and one in seven of those surveyed (14%) said it came from a client or patient.

Being out at work

The survey also found that only half (51%) of LGBT people, and one in three (36%) young people are out or open about their sexuality to their colleagues at work. More than one in four (27%) of bisexual respondents hide their sexuality at work.

Forced “outing”:

Almost one in three (30%) trans respondents have had their trans status disclosed against their will.

One respondent to the survey said “colleagues would mock my gender/transition openly with customers. One time, my shirt was torn open to try and expose my chest and ‘out’ me as ‘a man’ in public.”

“Homophobia and transphobia at work is undermining, humiliating and can have a huge effect on mental health,” says Nigel Costley. “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 be ready to treat any complaint seriously."

“Many unions have a network for LGBT workers, as well as union 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, joining a the best way to make sure you have the support and help you need”

The TUC is calling on the government to:

  • 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.
  • 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.


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.”

Notes to Editors:

The full report is available at:

- South West TUC is one of 6 regional offices of the TUC. More than 1 in 5 (22.2%) workers in the South West are a member of a trade union. We represent their voices by working closely with trade unions to ensure we improve workers’ rights and promote decent jobs in the South West.

- Nigel Costley, Regional Secretary South West TUC, [email protected], tel: 0117 947 0521 mob: 07887 797 153

- Ines Lage, Policy and Campaigns Support Officer, [email protected] tel: 0117 947 0521 mob: 07766 250 948
- Twitter: To tweet about this story please use #TUCLGBT

- For more news and information from the South West TUC, follow us @SWTUC

- All TUC press releases can be found at
- 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.

Survey group

Proportion of those responding to our survey in this group

Proportion of the UK LGBT population in this group







Age 16-24



Age 25-34



Age 35-65*


















Northern Ireland



*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.