A new survey of 108,000 LGBTQ people in the UK has cast a new light on the discrimination that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people face each day.
Among the findings:
• More than two-thirds of respondents admitted they don’t hold hands with their same-sex partner in public our of fear
• 2% of the 108,000 had undergone conversion therapy; 5% had been offered the discredited treatment
• 40% of respondents had experienced anti-LGBTQ hate incidents; of those 9 out of 10 were unreported
• 23% admitted they had experienced anti-LGBTQ animus in the workplace
• 70% avoid living openly as LGBTQ to avoid negative reactions
• 67% of transgender respondents say they avoid being open about their gender identity due to fear of how others would react
In response to the findings, a new initiative has now been announced titled, “LGBT Action Plan - Improving the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people” which aims to explore "legislative and non-legislative options to prohibit promoting, offering or conducting conversion therapy."
Medical experts around the world including the World Health Organization, the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association and almost every other professional therapeutic group in America, have denounced the practice of so-called “conversion” or “ex-gay” therapy as inappropriate, unethical, harmful and, in some cases, can lead to suicide.
The approach of “conversion therapy’ is based on the premise that LGBTQ people are suffering from a mental condition that needs to be ‘fixed.” The World Health Organization declassified homosexuality a mental condition in 1992.
In the United States, 13 states plus Washington, D.C. and over 30 local municipalities ban the harmful practice for minors.
The 30-page proposal includes more support for LGBT teachers and students, improvements to gender identity services for transgender adults, working to improve the police response to LGBT hate incidents, and more. The proposals will be funded by an initial £4.5m.
Reacting to the survey’s results, British Prime Minister Theresa May issued a statement saying he felt "struck by just how many respondents said they cannot be open about their sexual orientation or avoid holding hands with their partner in public for fear of a negative reaction."
"No one should ever have to hide who they are or who they love," the UK leader said. "This LGBT action plan will set out concrete steps to deliver real and lasting change across society, from health and education to tackling discrimination and addressing the burning injustices that LGBT people face."
Ruth Hunt, chief executive of the British LGBT rights group Stonewall, hailed the new initiative by the government as "an important first step" but added that it needs to lead to "tangible change."
"Some people will be shocked by the findings. But for anyone who is LGBT, or has a family member or friend who is, these results will be sadly recognizable," she said in a statement. “Laws have improved and attitudes have changed but our society still treats LGBT people like second-class citizens."