More than one in three LGBT people have been victims of harassment or bullying in the workplace, according to a shocking new survey by the Trade Union Congress (TUC).
A TUC survey of over 5,000 LGBT workers found worrying examples of cruel jokes and insults aimed at LGBT workers, as well as bullying and blatant attempts to block someone’s career progress.
The results of the survey, released ahead of the Plymouth Pride festival this weekend, show 36% of LGBT people have been subjected to these types of unacceptable behaviour at work, often perpetrated by their own colleagues and managers.
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 from colleagues was the most common complaint, accounting for 39% of those who took part in the comprehensive study.
Almost a third of respondents (29%) also spoke of harassment and discrimination from a manager, while 14% said it came from a client/customer or patient.
The survey also found that only 51% of LGBT people, and 36% young people are out or open about their sexuality to work colleagues. More than one in four (27%) of bisexual respondents said they hide their sexuality from work colleagues, out of fear on how they will be treated and regarded.
Perhaps most worrying of all is the news that almost one in three (30%) trans respondents have had their sexuality disclosed against their will.
One respondent 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.”
Another respondent added: “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.”
A third respondent on a zero-hours contract kept their sexual orientation secret because they “didn’t want to rock the boat” and feared “I wouldn’t be offered shifts”.
“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 union.is the best way to make sure you have the support and help you need”.
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, and ban zero-hours contracts which they say leave LGBT workers at risk of discrimination.