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Sexual harassment of LGBT people in the workplace

Report type
Research and reports
Issue date
- Disabled LGBT people’s experiences

Disabled people reported significantly higher levels of sexual harassment than non-disabled people.

The research found that disabled men reported significantly higher levels of sexual harassment than non-disabled men and non-disabled women across all aspects of sexual harassment.

Disabled women reported significantly higher levels of sexual harassment than both disabled men and non-disabled men and women across most areas. However, there were three types of harassment where disabled men experienced higher levels than disabled women. Those were:

  • hearing colleagues make comments of a sexual nature about a straight colleague (56 per cent compared to 54 per cent* of disabled women)
  • hearing colleagues make comments of a sexual nature about a lesbian/gay woman, gay man, bisexual or trans colleague (60 per cent compared to 55 per cent* of disabled women)
  • displays of pornographic photographs or drawings in the workplace (32 per cent compared to 29 per cent* of disabled women).
 
Figure 7:
Figure 7: Disabled women's experiences

Disabled women were:

  • around twice as likely to report unwanted touching (50 per cent* disabled women, 26 per cent* non-disabled women),
  • more than twice as likely to report sexual assault (38 per cent* vs 14 per cent*) and
  • six times more likely to experience serious sexual assault or rape (24 per cent* vs 4 per cent*).

These higher rates of sexual harassment and assault in our research reflect previous studies which showed that disabled women and girls experience gender-based violence at disproportionately higher rates and in unique forms owing to discrimination and stigma based on both gender and disability. 21

 
  • 21. See UNFPA, Addressing Violence Against Women and Girls in Sexual and Reproductive Services: a review of knowledge assets (New York, UNFPA, 2010) and Stephanie Ortoleva and Hope Lewis, Forgotten Sisters — a Report on Violence Against Women and Disabilities: an overview of its nature, scope, causes and consequences, North-Eastern University School of Law Research Paper No. 104-2012 (2012)
Figure 8
Figure 8: Disabled men's experiences

Disabled men’s reported levels of sexual harassment and assault were lower than those of disabled women but significantly higher than non-disabled men. Disabled men were almost:

  • three times more likely to report unwanted touching when compared to non-disabled men (32 per cent compared to 11 per cent)
  • five times more likely to report unwanted sexual assault than non-disabled men (28 per cent compared to six per cent)
  • seven times more likely to report serious sexual assault and rape that non-disabled men (twenty per cent compared to three per cent.).