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Nearly 7 in 10 LGBT people report being sexually harassed at work

Around seven out of 10 LGBT workers experienced at least one type of sexual harassment at work and almost one in eight LGBT women reported being seriously sexually assaulted or raped at work. But this is a hidden problem with two thirds of those who were harassed not reporting it.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon from Unsplash.com

Sixty-eight percent (or nearly seven in 10) lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people report being sexually harassed at work.

This is according to a study done by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) in the UK, where the following aspects of sexual harassment of LGBT workers were considered: unwelcome verbal sexual advances, unwelcome jokes of a sexual nature, unwelcome questions/comments about sex life, comments of a sexual nature about one’s sexual orientation, comments of a sexual nature about one’s gender identity, hearing colleagues make comments of a sexual nature about a straight colleague in front of an LGBT person, hearing colleagues make comments of a sexual nature about a LGBT colleague, receiving unwanted messages or emails with material of a sexual nature, unwanted touching, and sexual assault or rape.

The study’s results painted a grim picture.

  • Around seven out of 10 LGBT workers experienced at least one type of sexual harassment at work (68%)
  • Almost one in eight LGBT women (12%) reported being seriously sexually assaulted or raped at work
  • Hearing comments of a sexual nature about a LGBT colleague was the behavior most respondents reported, with just under half experiencing it (47%)
  • Many LGBT workers also reported hearing comments of a sexual nature about straight colleagues in front of them with over four in 10 being exposed to these behaviors (44%)
  • Over four in 10 (43%) LGBT workers reported hearing comments of a sexual nature about their sexual orientation, and three in 10 (30%) heard comments of a sexual nature about their gender identity
  • More than half (53%) of LGBT women had experienced unwelcome jokes of a sexual nature, as had over four in 10 gay, bisexual and trans (GBT) men (44%)
  • Around one in six respondents (17%) reported receiving unwanted emails with materials of a sexual nature in them, and 16% had seen displays of pornographic photographs or drawings in the workplace
  • Around one in five bisexual men and women experienced sexual assault at work (20%) and
  • 22%, respectively) and one in 10 reported being seriously sexually assaulted or raped at work (11% and 10%, respectively)

LGBT women were significantly more likely to report all of these experiences than the men who responded to the survey. LGBT women are more than twice as likely to report unwanted touching (35% compared to 16% of men); almost twice as likely to report experiencing sexual assault (21% versus 12% of men).

A number of the respondents described a range of longer-term impacts caused by their experience of sexual harassment at work. Around one in six people (16%) reported a negative effect on their mental health, and a similar proportion (16%) left their job as a result of being sexually harassed.

The TUC recommends for changes to be made to workplace cultures, which may be pushed by laws/policies mandated by the government to force employers to “take preventative steps to stop sexual harassment happening.”

Also, “every employer must take a zero-tolerance approach to all forms of discrimination and harassment (and sexual harassment),” TUC stated.

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