Nearly 7 in 10 LGBT people say they have been sexually harassed at work, says TUC

Nearly 7 in 10 (68%) lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) people report being sexually harassed at work, according to new research published by the TUC on International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia today.

The report – the first major study into LGBT sexual harassment at work in Great Britain – found that:

  • More than 2 in 5 (42%) LGBT people who responded to the survey said colleagues made unwelcome comments or asked unwelcome questions about their sex life.
  • More than a quarter (27%) reported receiving unwelcome verbal sexual advances.
  • Two-thirds (66%) said they did not tell their employer about the harassment, and quarter of those said they didn’t report because they were afraid of being ‘outed’ at work.

According the survey, LGBT women were more likely to experience unwanted touching and sexual assault at work.

  • Over a third of women (35%) reported they had experienced unwanted touching, for example placing hands on their lower back or knee
  • Over one fifth (21%) reported experiencing sexual assault, for example unwanted touching of the breasts, buttocks or genitals, or attempts to kiss them
  • One in eight (12%) LGBT women said they had been seriously sexually assaulted or raped at work.

BME women and disabled men and women reported even higher rates of harassment and sexual assault.

  • More than half (54%) of LGBT BME women said they have experienced unwanted touching at work, 45% reported sexual assault and more than a quarter (27%) reported serious sexual assault or rape.
  • Half (50%) of LGBT disabled women reported unwanted touching, nearly 4 in 10 (38%) reported sexual assault and almost a quarter (24%) reported serious sexual assault or rape. Disabled men’s reported levels of sexual harassment and assault were significantly higher than non-disabled men, with more than 1 in 4 (28%) of disabled men reporting sexual assault.

LGBT people told the TUC these experiences had a big impact on their lives. Around 1 in 6 (16%) said the sexual harassment at work affected their mental health. A similar proportion (16%) told the TUC that they had left their job as a result of being sexually harassed – and for 1 in 25 described the experience as so unbearable that it caused them to leave their job without another job to go to.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “This research reveals a hidden epidemic. 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.

“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.”

  • Like this story? Please support our work here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *