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October  

Briefing  on  Sexual  Orientation  in  Wales   This report details the findings of an engagement exercise carried out in Wales to identify the needs people might have regarding sexual orientation. Its purpose is to inform outcome-focussed equality objectives to aid the public sector in fulfilling its statutory duties under the Equality Act 2010.

L G B T   E x c e l l e n c e   C e n t r e  

 

12  


Table  of  Contents   1.0  

Background ....................................................................................................................1  

2.0         The  LGBT  Excellence  Centre............................................................................................1   3.0         Health ............................................................................................................................2   Recommendations ........................................................................................................................................................2  

4.0         Education .......................................................................................................................3   Recommendations ........................................................................................................................................................3  

5.0         Housing/accommodation ...............................................................................................5   Recommendations ........................................................................................................................................................6  

6.0         Care  and  support............................................................................................................7   Recommendations ........................................................................................................................................................7  

7.0         Age.................................................................................................................................8   Recommendations ........................................................................................................................................................9  

8.0  

Employment...................................................................................................................9   Recommendations ..................................................................................................................................................... 10  

9.0  

Legal  protection ...........................................................................................................10   Recommendations ..................................................................................................................................................... 11  

10.0   Leisure .........................................................................................................................11   Recommendations ..................................................................................................................................................... 11  

11.0   Power  and  voice...........................................................................................................12   Recommendations ..................................................................................................................................................... 12  

12.0   Police,  anti-­‐social  behaviour,  and  crime .......................................................................13   Recommendations ..................................................................................................................................................... 14  

13.0   Prisons  and  corrective  facilities ....................................................................................14   Recommendations ..................................................................................................................................................... 15  

14.0   At  home .......................................................................................................................16   Recommendations ..................................................................................................................................................... 16  

15.0   Transport .....................................................................................................................17   Recommendations ..................................................................................................................................................... 17  

16.0   Online ..........................................................................................................................17   Recommendations ..................................................................................................................................................... 18  

17.0   Monitoring ...................................................................................................................18   Recommendations ..................................................................................................................................................... 18  

18.0   Concluding  comments ..................................................................................................18    


1.0

Background

1.1

The Equality Act 2010 (Statutory Duties) (Wales) Regulations 2011 require the Welsh Government to engage with different groups and individuals to produce outcome-focussed equality objectives and a Strategic Equality Plan detailing the actions it will take to achieve them. If the objectives are to be meaningful and make a difference to people’s lives, it is imperative that the Welsh Government (WG) engage with people when forming them. The LGBT Excellence Centre was commissioned to deliver an engagement event to gather information on the main issues and difficulties faced by people and organisations in Wales with regards to sexual orientation. This information will be used to inform the development of the Welsh Government’s equality objectives and ultimately ensure that they make a difference to people’s lives.

1.2 1.3

2.0

The LGBT Excellence Centre

2.1

Mission – The LGBT Excellence Centre is a social enterprise and registered charity that delivers support services, projects, programmes, and events relating to sexual orientation and gender identity for individuals and organisations. It does so with the aim of promoting greater equality and protecting human rights. Vision – LGBTEC upholds and promotes professional standards of best practice, involving communities and empowering individuals in order to influence policy at a strategic level. Our goals:  Empower people to lead full and rewarding lives without limits based on sexual orientation and gender identity by providing the highest quality educational, cultural, and wellbeing programs;  Heal the damage caused by discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, by providing the highest quality health and social services;  Advocate full access, equality, and human rights for all people regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity by promoting our communities' needs at local, national, and international levels;  Lead through example by living by our values, sharing our expertise, and celebrating the diversity of individuals, families, and communities. Our objectives:  Raise awareness of issues affecting said persons, in particular by operating a helpline and centre to provide information, training, advice, and support;  Advance education and raising awareness with regards to equality and diversity;  Promote activities that foster understanding between people from diverse backgrounds;  Conduct or commission research into equality and diversity issues and make the results available to the public;  Cultivate a sentiment in favour of equality and diversity.

2.2 2.3

2.4

Briefing  on  Sexual  Orientation  in  Wales   1    


3.0

Health

3.1

It is understood that Genito-urinary Medicine (GUM) clinics are stretched and their funding is being cut, preventing them from being able to offer further support and facilities to LGB patients. Clinics report patients not coming back after having been diagnosed. Many gay men have reported having to update staff about current research as staff themselves are unaware of recent developments. Consultants are stretched and do not have time to sufficiently answer patients’ questions or offer reassurance. Health Advisers work hard but are not always prepared for explicit conversations with their patients. Many LGB people report health service staff reacting negatively towards their sexuality. Many GPs and nurses in the NHS have been recruited from abroad and it has not been ensured that they understand either LGB issues or their obligation to adhere to the Single Equality Act. There are still many misconceptions about sexual orientation, and no comprehensive training is given to foreign national nurses or GPs during their induction. Many LGB people disclosed that they will not discuss certain issues with foreign national nurses or GPs due to a conviction that they will not be sympathetic. Some hostile or dismissive beliefs regarding LGB people are entrenched and simply including wording in a policy does not go any way towards changing this. Lesbians are not considered to be at risk of cervical cancer, as it is assumed that all lesbians do not have sex with men. It is therefore common practice for them not to be offered cervical cancer screenings.

3.2

3.3 3.4

3.5

3.6 3.7

Recommendations 3.8 3.9 3.10 3.11

3.12 3.13 3.14

2    

As developments in sexual health medications and therapies move very fast, it is essential that GUM clinics retain highly qualified and knowledgeable staff. A commitment to understanding and upholding sexual orientation equality needs to be included in health professionals’ contracts, inductions, and general training. Information and advice about sexual health matters for LGB people, along with signposting for further information or specialist advice, needs to be provided in all organisations that deliver healthcare. Training on sexual orientation matters should be provided to all staff, especially those providing front-line services. Such training should be made a contractual requirement for GPs, given that they are often the first port of call for people experiencing sexual health problems. The health sector should develop a more thorough understanding of sexual orientation issues and provide appropriate literature wherever possible. All policies, practices, and training courses should be impact assessed to include sexual orientation issues; LGB issues should not be restricted to general equality training. This should be evidenced in staff personal development plans. Signposting resources should be made readily available to GPs to provide them with guidance.

Briefing  on  Sexual  Orientation  in  Wales  


4.0

Education

4.1

Within the last few years LGB teachers, parents, and students within elementary, secondary, and post-secondary schools have started to gain more confidence in disclosing their sexual orientation to their peers. However, in Wales there is no consistent support for LGB people available from Local Education Authorities, individual schools, or staff within schools, very often resulting in needs going unmet. Despite the existence of general anti-harassment/bullying policies in most schools, LGB students still face harassment and violence, often due to ignorance and bias against them. Homophobic bullying is still the main form of bullying reported, with 70% of pupils canvassed in a 2009 WG report reporting it. Furthermore, 90% of teachers admit to regularly hearing homophobic comments. Although post-secondary schools have begun to implement policies to accommodate LGB students, throughout Welsh schools there is a huge lack in the understanding and addressing of LGB issues. In particular, there is misunderstanding with regards to the difference between sexual orientation and gender identity. School-based counsellors, nurses, and chaplains are often the first port of call for a young person who needs support in dealing with issues relating to their sexuality or bullying. However, they often do not have appropriate training or access to adequate information and signposting mechanisms. Faith schools (particularly those with academy status) have been identified as being more homophobic than state schools. In such schools sexual orientation is addressed only through homophobia, which is often taught or perpetuated by staff. A 2006 report identified that 75% of bullying in faith schools was homophobic. There are many difficulties here, particularly when parents also support the teaching of homosexuality as being sinful, which can have a deep psychological effect on a young LGB person. But with time and resources these issues can be resolved. Elementary schools have more difficulty with decisions regarding LGB issues than secondary and post-secondary schools do. There is often concern that by supporting a younger LGB child in their self-identified sexual orientation, the school will inadvertently create a psychological pathology in the child. There are concerns that a backlash from parents will occur, particularly from those who do not want their child to be supported in their self-identified sexual orientation, but rather discouraged and repressed. Such parents often wish their child to be directed towards traditionally ‘male’ or ‘female’ activities under the misguided notion that this may ‘cure’ them.

4.2 4.3

4.4

4.5

4.6

4.7

4.8

Recommendations 4.9

4.10

Schools need more assistance and advice when supporting students who identify as LGB and dealing with concerned parents of LGB students. Information on how LGB people can be aware of their orientation at a young age, and how it can be damaging to discourage and oppress sexual orientation, needs to be made clearly available. Schools should educate young people about different sexual orientations from an early age, teaching them that acceptance of different sexual orientations is normal. Children who grow up secure in their own identity and who are taught to respect Briefing  on  Sexual  Orientation  in  Wales   3  

 


4.11 4.12

4.13 4.14

4.15

4.16

4.17 4.18 4.19 4.20

4.21 4    

others are less at risk of growing into offenders, and more likely to achieve their potential and contribute positively to society. All instances of homophobic or biphobic bullying and behaviour should be recorded and reported to school liaison or hate crime officers to help gather intelligence about potential trends of prejudice in local communities. Sexual orientation should be explored throughout the curriculum and included in lesson plans, as is the case with other equality and human rights issues. Good practice should be identified and shared among schools so they can influence existing anti-bullying campaigns to include sexual orientation and gender identity issues. A focus on respect, human dignity, civil behaviour, and freedom of the individual needs to be an integral part of every lesson, and should be inclusive of all equality strands, including those not currently considered protected characteristics. Teachers and staff should assist in the referral of youths who are distressed about their sexual orientation to competent agencies and professionals. Counselling for family members and friends affected by the circumstances may also be appropriate. School policies regarding both employment and anti-harassment/bullying should specify sexual orientation as an area of potential difficulty and be enforced meaningfully. School policies should also ensure fair treatment of students by staff and facilitate connection with community-based resources. School policies should explicitly address not only verbal or physical harassment, but the need for:  LGB-specific issues relating to bathrooms, showers, locker/changing rooms, sports teams, gym classes, field trips, support/counselling, sex education classes, and dress codes to be addressed;  more flexibility in how people express their identity and sexual orientation and a deeper understanding of how this affects non-LGBT people;  forms that record and monitor sexual identity;  privacy and confidentiality policies and procedures;  better sex education that starts at a younger age and includes ‘myth-busting’ information on alternative sexual orientations;  training and resources for teachers and staff;  links to be established links with LGBT organisations that can provide ongoing support and advice when difficult issues arise;  foreign students who identify as LGB and are staying with British families (e.g., on exchange trips) to be placed in supportive environments. Youth club staff should be trained to identify and deal with the needs of LGB youths in order to ensure their inclusion and avoid segregation and bullying. Sexual orientation awareness training should be compulsory for all teaching and non-teaching staff in all education establishments. Estyn should play a vital role in making sure that systems to monitor progress on sexual orientation equality are robust and that bullying on sexual orientation grounds is dealt with appropriately. Governors have a great responsibility to understand both homophobic and biphobic bullying and employment matters for LGB people, and to lead change in education establishments with regards to these issues. They should therefore be appropriately trained. School-based counsellors, nurses, and chaplains should be trained to deal with sexual orientation matters competently and sensitively and have access to Briefing  on  Sexual  Orientation  in  Wales  


4.22 4.23 4.24 4.25 4.26 4.27 4.28

adequate information and signposting mechanisms. There must also be guarantees that they will explore the issues positively and not inform the LGB person that they are ‘wrong’ or try to discourage them from exploring their sexual orientation. More resources are needed to resolve the conflicts between religion and alternative sexual orientation in faith schools and find a way for them to co-exist. All instances of homophobic and biphobic bullying should be recorded and reported to community liaison officers, and offenders should be monitored for further anti-social behaviour. Informed and confident responses to homophobic bullying should be common practice, with relevant support and counselling offered to bullies and offenders to help them explore the root of their behaviour. Schools should offer LGB guest speakers at assemblies to raise awareness among the whole school community. PE and other sports activities/initiatives should be more diverse and impact assessed to uncover any risks they might pose to LGB people. Every school and education establishment should participate in campaigns such as LGBT History Month and/or get accredited with the Rainbow Mark to improve their performance with regards to LGBT issues. It should be considered that most of the issues outlined above affect not only students who may be LGB, but also heterosexual students who are the children of same-sex partnerships, who are often bullied because of their parents’ sexual orientation.

5.0

Housing/accommodation

5.1

Accessing suitable housing assistance may be difficult for unemployed, single LGB people, as support for healthy, mature, single people is limited. Housing benefit can usually only support a small room in a house or bedsit, and this is often shared accommodation with strangers who may be predominantly heterosexual and possibly homophobic. LGB people reported difficulty in finding safe emergency housing or shelter due to the diversity of their circumstances and needs. Some are fleeing from a violent family member, current or former partner, co-worker, or neighbour, and need both shelter and trauma support services. Furthermore, dangerous complications can arise due to current systems not taking into account the needs of LGB people; for example, a lesbian fleeing domestic violence was discovered by her partner, who had located her by claiming to be a victim of domestic violence herself. To deal with such complications, Women’s Aid have requested more help when dealing with LGB domestic violence, and as a result, the LGBT Excellence Centre now regularly attends Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conferences. However, there is still a lack of awareness among organisations that lesbians may be fleeing violence from a female partner, as well as a lack of procedures to deal with this issue. Placement decisions and housing allocations are not based on sexual orientation, and emergency beds for LGB people are very few. Asylum seekers are often allocated temporary or emergency accommodation by the UK Boarder Agency (UKBA) without any equality impact assessments. This often results in LGB asylum seekers having to share houses and flats with

5.2

5.3 5.4

Briefing  on  Sexual  Orientation  in  Wales   5    


5.5

5.6 5.7

5.8

5.9

homophobic people. LGB asylum seekers involved in our event reported being the subject of on-going harassment, threats, and attacks, often carried out by people from their own culture. Whether or not these offences were reported to the police, they were not taken seriously by UKBA or the relevant housing providers. LGB people reported that Local Authority Housing lacks awareness of their needs. This is compounded by lack of equality impact assessment of third-party contracts and commissions, leaving LGB people open to abuse and discrimination from builders, carpenters, electricians, and other professionals who might need to enter their premises for maintenance and repairs. This is in contravention of the Single Equality Act 2010. The public sector was reported to often fail to fulfil its duty of care towards LGB people under the Human Rights Act and the Equality Act through lack of awareness and a perceived low level of need. Housing providers seem not to consider issues that might arise from bad allocation of accommodation, and seem unaware that some LGBT people do not have ‘typical’ families. This results in people being placed a long distance from relatives, friends, and specialist support services, leading to the break-up of families and relationships and the disruption of family support. LGB people who live in rural areas may, for a number of reasons, request relocation. There are barriers to this and the need of an LGB person facing harassment to relocate to an area with a visible LGB population is not taken seriously. Advocates can offer examples of the practical, simple strategies used by other shelters to successfully accommodate LGB needs. Recommendations

5.10 5.11 5.12 5.13 5.14

5.15 5.16

6    

Advocacy is necessary to promote agency-wide policy changes that remove barriers to LGB people. Case advocacy is also useful, as many shelters’ LGB access policies involve case-by-case decisions to determine whether or not a person is ’appropriate’ as a client. With both long- and short-term housing, advocacy may be needed to address discrimination from landlords or harassment from neighbours. Shelters, landlords, and housing providers should employ practical, simple strategies to accommodate LGB needs. A consensus on best practice with regards to this should be established. An ethos of equality and tolerance of diversity should be embedded within and across organisations and not limited to the notion of a ‘diversity officer’ or an ‘LGBT officer’. Certain employees (such as housing officers) are especially likely to come into direct contact with LGB people. Based on our findings, we suggest this means that awareness training needs to be treated as a matter of priority. Some employees, like tenancy support officers, need more training than others. However, those in the higher echelons of a company need to make sure that LGB people are understood in greater depth by all staff at all levels. Support from Triangle Wales (which is now part of the LGBT Excellence Centre) is available to help the housing sector devise policy and practice guidelines for the accommodation of LGB service users.

Briefing  on  Sexual  Orientation  in  Wales  


6.0

Care and support

6.1

Long-term residential care refers to medically supervised housing for people unable to live independently or with loved ones. Many of the issues discussed in other sections apply to advocacy for LGB people living in care. Privacy and confidentiality are key concerns for LGB people in long-term care, as information can spread very quickly throughout a facility. Same-sex sexual behaviour is seen by some residential care providers as ‘acting out’ and is often actively discouraged. In our experience there is particular confusion within long-term care about same-sex sexual behaviour being an ‘inappropriate’ expression of sexuality. Many LGB people do not conform to normal gender stereotypes and an older gay man may be refused certain toiletries (make-up, hair products, etc.) due to them being considered inappropriately feminine. LGB people in residential care often experience severe isolation, compounded by barriers to peer support access. As the majority of long-term care residents are elderly, advocacy relating to longterm care includes advocacy specific to LGB seniors. Staff or family members can dismiss an older person’s disclosure of LGB orientation as being a sign of dementia or confusion.

6.2 6.3

6.4 6.5 6.6 6.7

Recommendations 6.8 6.9

6.10 6.11 6.12 6.13

6.14

Care staff should be educated and trained to understand the diversity of sexual orientation and also to encourage frank discussion of the sexual needs of longterm care residents, regardless of their orientation. Formal complaints should be encouraged if LGB residents are being victimised for expressing their sexual orientation. Advocacy may be needed to create an environment that supports the older person in the exploration and expression of feelings relating to their sexual orientation. Community social workers may be able to coordinate transport and caregiver assistance to make it possible for LGB residents to access LGB-specific community peer support groups and events, or to facilitate inpatient visits. Staff in long-term care facilities should be educated and trained to help ensure that LGB visitors who are providing peer support to a resident are treated respectfully by all staff. As the majority of long-term care residents are elderly, advocacy services should also be sourced to address the needs of older LGB people. Counselling may be needed to address all of the psychosocial issues described above. In our experience, advocacy is often needed to help LGB people in care access effective counselling, address general residential issues (placement, safety, etc.) and help agency staff implement proactive anti-discrimination measures. All care homes and support services should have knowledge of and access to LGB resources, including counsellors.

Briefing  on  Sexual  Orientation  in  Wales   7    


7.0

Age

7.1

Older LGB people are intensely marginalised not only by poverty but by widespread societal assumption that diversity in sexual orientation does not exist among older people. Some older LGB people have identified as LGB for many years; others start questioning their sexual orientation, come to identify as LGB, or seek to come out late in life. Many older LGB people have kept their sexual orientation a secret for many decades, and are motivated to come out as LGB after a significant event in their lives or out of frustration after having kept it secret for so long. Whilst some older people are very open about being LGB, others are fearful of disclosing their sexual orientation – particularly in settings where others have great power over their lives (such as residential care) – and may be deeply closeted. This fear is sometimes due to the laws and prevailing attitudes of the times through which they have lived. Only in the last 10 years has life been made legally better for LGB people, so those aged 60 and above have a lifetime experience of discrimination. They may therefore find becoming open about or recognising their sexual orientation very difficult. Historically, North American psychiatric treatment of homosexuality or bisexuality focussed on suppressing feelings and behaviours, and as a model for treatment this became widespread. One report noted that older LGB people may have, as children or young adults, experienced the use of electroshock therapy, forced drugging, aversion therapy, or other invasive and traumatic types of ‘conversion’ therapy. As a result they may have been inflicted with tardive dyskinesia, severe depression, cognitive impairment, or other neurological damage. Further to this, lifelong repression and constant reinforcement of the idea that they are ‘wrong’ can have instilled in them deep feelings of self-loathing. LGB individuals who have lived through severe societal or medical repression may suffer from rage, grief, or shame that surfaces or intensifies with age. This can be exacerbated by the progress since made in LGBT equality, as they can feel angry that this was not afforded them when they were younger. Also, younger LGBT care workers who enjoy a much more liberal life can struggle to understand the difficulties faced by the older generation. In addition to the impact that fear of discrimination may have on an older LGB person’s quality of life, it can also lead to misdiagnosis of illnesses (such as depression), unreported symptoms, and subsequent progression of undiagnosed illnesses. Many young LGB people become aware of their sexual orientation at a very young age. The average age at which people we consulted discovered or became able to express their sexual orientation was 10. However, most had ‘felt different’ and/or felt discomfort or confusion with regards to their sexual orientation since they were a lot younger. Young LGB people said they felt there needed to be more safe, accessible, friendly places for them to go to get support. Suggestions included a drop-in centre or a coffee shop that is not centred on drinking.

7.2

7.3 7.4

7.5

7.6

7.7

7.8

7.9

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Briefing  on  Sexual  Orientation  in  Wales  


Recommendations 7.10

7.11

7.12

Counselling may be used to address all of the psychosocial issues described above, but this should be provided by professionals who are competent in dealing with sexual orientation and gender identity issues and have received appropriate training. Advocacy is often needed to help LGB people access LGB-competent counselling, address general residential issues (placement, safety, etc.), and help professionals in different agencies and organisations implement proactive antidiscrimination measures (as few of them have LGB-specific policies or awareness). Youth services should impact assess their current youth provision and establish adequate support mechanisms and information for young LGB people.

8.0

Employment

8.1

Incidents of homophobic and biphobic bullying, name calling, and harassment in the workplace often go unreported for two main reasons: firstly because the victim feels they will be accused of over-reacting, not being able to take a joke, or being disruptive, and will not be taken seriously; and secondly because many LGB people are so used to verbal abuse and harassment that it does not occur to them to report it. Furthermore, if the perpetrator is well-liked or in a supervisory role, the complainant may be pressured to drop their complaint by managers appealing to their ‘better nature’. Managers may often also see the perpetrator’s point of view and fail to understand the reasons for the complaint. Although discrimination is unlawful and can be addressed through complaints and employment tribunal proceedings, there is little recourse if it cannot be proven. People who are visibly lesbian, gay, bisexual, or ‘out’ routinely experience employment discrimination. Exclusively male or female work environments can foster an atmosphere that is very unwelcoming to LGB people. As a workplace dynamic is already established, LGB people can be seen as a threat to this and either not employed or expected to ‘toe the line’. Many LGB people, although interested, may be discouraged from applying for jobs that are traditionally male or female (e.g., jobs in automobile services or nursing) for fear of a hostile reception. This is of particular concern to people who consider themselves ‘visibly’ gay or lesbian. Bullying and harassment can take many forms. It is a difficult area because one person’s interpretation of a comment can differ from another’s, and many people are unaware of when a joke becomes unacceptable. Many anti-LGB jokes are so prevalent (e.g., ‘that’s so gay!’) that offence is often not intended. Additionally, whilst an LGB person may accept a joke from a long-time friend, they may be upset and offended if it was delivered by someone less acquainted with them. People who are taught that LGB people are ‘unnatural’, ‘dirty’, or ‘against nature’ are willing to be quite open about their negative opinions of LGB people. Even those who temper their comments in public would still voice them uncensored when they thought it safe to do so. LGB bullying and harassment can be extremely disempowering, often being patronising, dismissive and imitative (e.g., involving impersonation of effeminate

8.2 8.3 8.4

8.5

8.6

8.7

8.8

Briefing  on  Sexual  Orientation  in  Wales   9    


8.9

voices, exaggeration of the way someone moves, or remarks on what the person does or does not ‘like’). Non-LGB people who take offence at LGB bullying and harassment could also be fearful of speaking out against it, for fear of being the subject of similar jokes, bullying, and harassment. Recommendations

8.10 8.11 8.12 8.13 8.14

8.15

Employers should assess whether or not LGB individuals are adequately covered by existing policy on issues such as confidentiality and harassment, and amend such policies accordingly. LGB people intending to ‘come out’ in their workplace should be assisted in developing a plan to help them do so. This plan should include education for the employer about the legal rights of LGB people. If referral to specialised employment services is appropriate, care should be taken to ensure that vocational counselling resources are LGB-competent. Bullying and harassment should be dealt with competently and effectively. It should be ensured that LGB people are aware of their rights and have access to advocacy services to help them resolve any issues. LGB employees should be supported in socialising with others and getting peer support and guidance from colleagues and organisations. If this is not possible inhouse, employers should assist their employees by connecting with other organisations and networks. The employer should consider whether or not training or briefing of colleagues with regards to an employee’s sexual orientation will be necessary, and at what point and by whom this will be carried out. This should be done with the consideration of the LGB person’s wishes.

9.0

Legal protection

9.1

The Equality Act currently affords exemptions that allow religious organisations to discriminate against LGB people with regards to employment and service provision. Although these exemptions are very limited (e.g., barring LGB people from positions that involve doctrinal teachings, and allowing religious premises to decide whether or not to hold civil partnerships), they are very often misinterpreted by the public to have a greater scope. LGB people reported that faith schools often fail to deal with homophobic bullying and are reluctant to discuss sexual orientation issues in their lesson plans. Many LGB people reported that bullying from religious organisations and people is still a major issue for them. Such bullying is especially hurtful for LGB people who are religious and have to listen to homophobic remarks from their religious group with very little opportunity to challenge them for fear of becoming a target. The LGB people we consulted reported that unlawful outing and disclosure of personal sexual orientation information through official documents, jokes, or informal conversations is still very common. The LGB people we consulted reported that allowing same-sex partners to unite in civil partnership but not marriage is differential treatment and therefore discriminatory.

9.2 9.3

9.4 9.5

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Briefing  on  Sexual  Orientation  in  Wales  


9.6

LGB people are often reluctant to report discrimination from certain cultural or religious groups due to the risk of being labelled racist or anti-religious. Recommendations

9.7 9.8 9.9 9.10 9.11

The Equality Act should be reviewed to prohibit religious individuals and organisations from discriminating against and harassing LGB people. The Data Protection Act (1998) requires confidentiality of information processed on the internet or via e-mail, and conveyed by telephone or post. Data on sexual orientation should only be processed for reasons specified in the Act. It should be considered a criminal offence if a person working in an ‘official’ capacity becomes aware of someone’s sexual orientation and discloses that information. Unwarranted breaches of confidentiality should be treated in a serious manner and may amount to harassment. Civil partnerships should be made available to heterosexual couples and marriage should be made available to same-sex couples.

10.0

Leisure

10.1

Recently, a well-known rugby player posed for a gay magazine to highlight issues surrounding bullying and HIV. His teammate tweeted quite openly that he had brought shame on the sport for doing so. These attitudes are still prevalent, and those who openly support LGB issues are subject to abuse, harassment, and negative criticism. Knowing that they may be met with such derision can be a deterrent to others to speak out. A famous footballer is currently being investigated for allegedly making racist comments. If he is found guilty, he is at risk of losing his job, being prosecuted, and being removed from the league. The media and society at large agree that, if found guilty, he should receive some punishment or reprimand. In the current environment, it is hard to believe that the same response would be forthcoming had this footballer made homophobic, rather than racist, comments. Many LGB people we consulted would not consider joining a local sports team for fear they would not be welcomed or supported. This is endemic in sport as anything considered a weakness (such as being gay) is attacked in an attempt to make the person tougher. In order to play sports, many LGBT people often form or join an LGBT sports group. This results in segregation.

10.2

10.3

10.4

Recommendations 10.5 10.6 10.7

Homophobic and biphobic comments in sport should be responded to with the same severity that racist comments are. There needs to be more awareness of the needs of LGB people in sport. As community facilities, leisure centres should take the lead in this. Sports instructors and PE teachers must be at the forefront of combating discrimination and prejudice, and should foster an appreciation of equality in their students from a young age. Briefing  on  Sexual  Orientation  in  Wales   11  

 


10.8 10.9

If LGB people do not want to get involved in sports, teachers and other staff should attempt to get explore the reasons for this in a sensitive and informed manner. Sports should be found that best suit the individual. Staff should receive training to sensitise them to LGB issues and ensure they are aware of the organisation’s equal opportunities policy.

11.0

Power and voice

11.1

There is a lack of support and advocacy for LGB people in Wales. Although there has been some improvement, advice on sexual orientation matters is practically non-existent among mainstream services due to a lack of awareness and specific training. Sexual orientation issues appear to be considered a low priority because of the perceived small number of people they affect. However, this perception does not consider the impact that sexual orientation might have on LGB people’s parents, partners, children, friends, colleagues, educators, health professionals, as well as anyone else who comes into contact with them. Consultants and representatives invited to give input into equality policies and procedures are often not qualified and offer input from only a personal perspective. Whilst personal views are an important aspect of consultation and should be valued, they do not result in input that is professional, peer-reviewed, comprehensive, and inclusive of the needs of the whole LGB community. Most organisations responsible for equality training focus primarily on race and disability and give sexual orientation very little attention. This may be due to a reluctance to discuss sexual matters, fear of the audience’s response, and/or an inability to deal with the issue effectively. Many equality organisations that previously focussed on race, disability, or gender now provide training on all equality issues. This is commendable but such organisations are not thoroughly versed in the subject of sexual orientation and are therefore not equipped to talk about it with authority and conviction. Many organisations are not even aware of the correct terminology to use, which can bring their authority into question even before any consultation begins. Sexual orientation (along with gender identity) is generally the diversity issue least likely to receive time or focus in all-encompassing diversity training. The needs of bisexual people are often ignored through lack of awareness and misunderstanding due to the perception that they are either gay/lesbian or heterosexual depending on the gender of their partner.

11.2

11.3

11.4

11.5

11.6 11.7

Recommendations 11.8

Organisations that wish to develop good practice with regards to sexual orientation issues should engage with reputable and quality assured organisations and consultants. They should not assume that ‘anyone is better than no-one’. 11.9 Information on the internet about LGB issues should not be relied upon as it is often seriously flawed and dated, and is not peer-reviewed. 11.10 No individual or organisation can represent or speak on behalf of a whole community, and unverified opinions should not be considered absolute or exhaustive without further consultation. 12    

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11.11 Consultation should be carried out as widely as possible, involving both organisations and consultants in order to ensure that the opinions, needs, and issues encountered are as diverse as possible. 11.12 The LGBT Excellence Centre has been working to increase the visibility and representation of sexual orientation issues across Wales. It can therefore help organisations to engage with LGB individuals, consultants, community networks, and social groups across the country. 11.13 Trainers should be educated to ensure that the information they disseminate is accurate and consistent. 11.14 LGB people should be encouraged to become more involved in politics and public appointments in order to provide LGB role models and increase the visibility of LBG issues. 12.0

Police, anti-social behaviour, and crime

12.1

Despite significant progress towards securing legislative equality, the daily lives of too many of Britain’s 3.6 million LGB people are still overshadowed by the fear of homophobic and biphobic hate crime. 12.2 Many of the LGB people we consulted reported feeling at risk of being attacked or abused on the street, at work, in education, or in their homes. 12.3 Equally disturbing is the fact that our criminal justice system still has no reliable picture of the number of homophobic and biphobic hate crimes that take place every year, besides those that have been reported. 12.4 Three quarters of those who experience homophobic, biphobic, and transphobic hate crimes and incidents do not report them to the police as they are convinced there is no point. 12.5 The police and the criminal justice system have made progress in tackling hate crime in recent years and awareness of LGB issues and the importance of good practice among police forces has improved. However, it is clear that far more needs to be done. 12.6 The LGB people we consulted felt that, whilst the police may appear to listen to them and take their issue seriously, there is nothing they will or can actually do in response. 12.7 There is little protection for people who are victims of hate crime, and the fear and distress it causes can leave psychological damage. 12.8 Knowing that their attacker(s) are still at large in their local area can seriously affect someone’s confidence to walk down their own street. 12.9 Data collected by Safer Wales through the Wales-wide Report Hate Crime thirdparty scheme supports Home Office research that most perpetrators are under 25. In the scheme’s first two years, 64% of reports that indicated the perpetrator’s age stated it as being under 18. 12.10 A 2009 Welsh Government report indicated that up to 70% of instances of bullying in education are homophobic. LGB people we consulted felt that homophobic and biphobic bullying is not being dealt with sufficiently, with a lot of young people not being supported and bullying going unchallenged. 12.11 Many young people reported that the police seem quite aggressive towards them and often tar them all as trouble makers without understanding their issues. 12.12 Some of the people we consulted said that they struggle to identify what hate crime actually is; given that there are so many instances of bullying, intimidation, Briefing  on  Sexual  Orientation  in  Wales   13    


and discrimination against them, they find it difficult to distinguish between what someone should carry on tolerating as part of everyday life and something that crosses the line. 12.13 These issues are compounded when incidents that could be considered hate crime happen in a school environment, and are classed as bullying and treated totally different to how the police should address them. Recommendations 12.14 People should be encouraged more to report hate crimes, and also reassured that those reporting hate crimes will be listened to and taken seriously. 12.15 Positive stories about the successful prosecution of homophobic hate crime offenders should be made available to increase LGB people’s confidence in the justice system. 12.16 Easier and quicker ways to report hate crime would encourage the reporting of more incidents. 12.17 Campaigns that tackle homophobia and biphobia specifically, using appropriate awareness raising literature, should be developed. 12.18 Good practice should be shared among police forces, and forums should be made available to facilitate this. 12.19 Forces and other agencies should use third-party reporting and LGB organisations / support groups to engage with LGB individuals and promote increased reporting of incidents. 12.20 There needs to be greater awareness both inside and outside the LGB community of the difference between a hate crime and a hate incident. There also needs to be more encouragement with regards to the reporting of acts of intolerance and oppression. 12.21 Homophobic and biphobic bullying in schools should be treated as hate crime and dealt with accordingly; schools should not be allowed the freedom to address it as something less important. 12.22 Resources should be invested in awareness training for officers and safety training for LGB people (e.g., self-defence). 12.23 Greater care needs to be taken when dealing with anti-LGB hate crime to honour the privacy of the victim and not ‘out’ them any further than is strictly necessary. 13.0

Prisons and corrective facilities

13.1

The LGB people we consulted identified safety as a major concern for gay men and lesbian women in prisons. Furthermore, a recent report from the Howard League for Penal Reform indicated that homophobia is rife in prisons and is often perpetrated by staff. Homophobia in prisons manifests itself not only in physical and verbal assaults, but also in demands for sexual favours or coercion to provide sex in exchange for protection from other inmates. LGB prisoners also struggle with the same issues as non-LGBT prisoners: overcrowding; lack of access to safe sex equipment; separation from family and loved ones; geographic isolation; forced work in unsafe and underpaid conditions; substandard diet; systemic racism, homophobia, and biphobia; lack of access to

13.2 13.3

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13.4

13.5 13.6

13.7

13.8

their cultural or faith community; limited phone access; poverty; and lack of privacy. Homophobia in prison is entrenched and prison officers are reluctant to challenge it. This can be because they fear becoming the target of abuse themselves, or have a lack of respect for the rights of prisoners, especially those who are LGB. The support they give LGB prisoners usually amounts to advising them to ‘act less gay’. Data on sexual orientation is not routinely collected in prisons, and therefore the complete extent of homophobic and biphobic abuse in prisons is not understood. The Howard League report states: ‘until the prison service gives the same weight and consideration to this issue (sexual orientation) as it does to others areas of diversity, then in all likelihood discrimination and stigmatisation will go on unchecked.’ The Howard League report also states: ‘In a number of reports, the prisons inspectorate has also stated that sexual orientation policy and practice is underdeveloped. Indeed, the inspectorate reports themselves do not devote the same time and attention to analysing sexual orientation, compared to the significant space devoted to analysing race, religion and disability issues.’ The Howard League report points out that segregating LGB prisoners, often in sexual offenders units, reinforces the idea of their sexuality being a perversion and also makes them vulnerable to sexual assaults. It is also ethically questionable to house an LGB person in a Vulnerable Person’s Unit. Recommendations

13.9

13.10

13.11 13.12 13.13 13.14 13.15

Whilst it is imperative that LGB people be considered at high risk of abuse and appropriate measures be taken to protect their safety, involuntary segregation or placement in isolation is not appropriate. This is particularly the case when placement in a unit results in the LGB person being housed with sexual predators or losing of access to programs available to prisoners in the general population. Risk assessments and advocacy are needed to promote placement decisions based on safety rather than administrative convenience. Officers working in prisons should ensure that safety concerns are taken seriously and addressed promptly. Extensive training on the issues surrounding sexual orientation – especially those specific to the prison environment – is essential. This training should be given to all new staff and then rolled out to all current staff. Advocacy with LGB prisoners should be inclusive of not only LGB-specific issues, but of general issues of concern relevant to all prisoners. Consultation with community organisations and individuals with experience in prison advocacy, such as the LGBT Excellence Centre, is often useful. Awareness programmes and workshops should also be provided to inmates and young offenders in order to rehabilitate offenders and minimise homophobic and biphobic bullying, harassment, and attacks. Regular monitoring of sexual orientation data in prisons should be instated as a matter of course.

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14.0

At home

14.1

LGB people reported that within the family there can sometimes be no acceptance of alternative sexual orientation. Many families find it hard to deal with and accept their child/sibling’s sexuality and receive no external support to help them achieve this. LGB issues do not affect only the individual, but the immediate and extended family also. Parents often blame themselves and think their child’s sexual orientation or sexual identity is due to something they have done, while the children of LGB parents may be bullied because of their parents’ sexual orientation. A young person who is questioning their sexuality and feels unsupported at home, in school, and among friends, may turn indiscriminately to older people and strangers for support. These people could exploit their vulnerability or even abuse them. Facilities for gay people tend to be predominantly in bars and clubs, which are often inappropriate places for a young person to be. If they do follow what could be their only contact or source of information, they could be introduced to drugs and alcohol at a young age. Some LGB people who have a Christian or Catholic faith reported feeling upset that they cannot have a religious marriage. The needs of LGB parents are often not recognised as it is assumed that LGB people do not have children. LGB parents in our consultation meeting reported being single parents with low incomes, yet said they were reluctant to claim child care benefits for fear of discrimination and poor treatment from social services and other organisations. In particular they have a concern that they could lose their children. Being accepted by family members can go a long way to improve an LGBT person’s mental health, confidence, and ability to function in society. Our consultation event found that a high proportion of LGB people had experienced domestic abuse. This domestic violence was often carried out by parents, other family members, and friends that LGB people lived with, who did not understand them and mistreated them as a result. The few individuals we consulted who reached out for support to help them deal with domestic violence found that mainstream specialist services were not equipped to deal with LGB individuals and often lacked the relevant awareness and training.

14.2

14.3

14.4

14.5 14.6

14.7 14.8

14.9

Recommendations 14.10 Education and support is needed to help families accept the sexual orientation of LGB relatives. 14.11 The children of LGB parents also need support, as they may be victims of bullying due to the sexual orientation of their parents. 14.12 Once a family has accepted their relative’s sexuality, they need to be equipped with the tools to deal with negativity from friends and the public. They also need help in deciding when and how to disclose that a family member is LGB. 14.13 Mainstream domestic violence services require training to make them aware of issues and needs specific to LGB individuals. 16    

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15.0

Transport

15.1

LGB individuals reported not feeling safe on public transport (trains and buses). This is particularly an issue at night, and especially weekend nights, when an LGB person is more likely to become a target of threatening youths or drunken individuals. The public transport network presents a barrier for LGB people who want to travel to city centres to access support services or LGB-friendly places to socialise. This is mainly due to a lack of routes and/or infrequent services for those who live in rural areas. Furthermore, those who live in rural areas are likely to be well-known in their community and travelling on public transport make them vulnerable to abuse – especially if they are ‘visibly’ gay, lesbian, or bisexual. Bus stops were perceived by the LGB people we consulted as being one of the places they are most at risk of receiving unwelcome behaviour and comments from people with prejudice. For young LGB people, public transport is often the only means of accessing support and facilities that can provide them with guidance and social interaction. However, most young people are not confident that public transport staff would intervene and offer them protection should anti-social behaviour arise.

15.2

15.3 15.4

Recommendations 15.5 15.6 15.7

Transport companies and organisations responsible for transport and community safety should ensure that services are impact assessed to identify the issues that LGB people might face when using them. Reporting anti-social behaviour and homophobic or biphobic discrimination/harassment on public transport should be encouraged through engagement with LGB individuals and the organisations that work with them. Transport companies should consider that LGB people might need help in reaching locations that can provide them with support, and concessions or further routes should be planned accordingly.

16.0

Online

16.1

Access to the internet is sometimes vital for LGB people as it can be the only way for them to access relevant information and support. The LGB people we consulted reported many issues regarding internet access, such as: • not being able to afford connection due to being unemployed or on a low pension; • libraries and other public facilities deeming LGB websites pornographic and restricting access to them; • schools deeming LGB websites not age appropriate and restricting access to them; • parental controls; • a lack of safe places for them to view LGB content without the risk of unintentionally ‘outing’ themselves to other users; • online social networking being restricted by employers.

16.2

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16.3

Homophobic and biphobic cyber bullying and online hate crime in not always reported or policed as effectively as racism or other forms of discrimination are. Recommendations

16.4

Organisations should review internet access policies to ensure that LGB people can access information and support that is vital to their wellbeing.

17.0

Monitoring

17.1

Whether in employment, training, recruitment, or in the provision of goods, facilities, and services, monitoring of equal opportunities information has become an important means of identifying the barriers that some groups might face and helping organisations make the changes needed to remove them. However, LGB people are concerned about confidentiality and data protection with regards to giving out such information. Forms are very inconsistent; different departments in the same organisation often use different forms or questions.

17.2 17.3

Recommendations 17.4

Monitoring should be carried out as part of a strategy to address equality and human rights issues. This should be clearly communicated to the target audience so that they are aware of why the information is being gathered. 17.5 Organisations should explain who is going to see the information, how it will be used, how it will be stored, and what the organisation is going to do once the data has been analysed. 17.6 Monitoring should always be a voluntary and anonymous exercise and this should be made clear at the beginning of the form. 17.7 Sexual orientation and gender identity should always be monitored as totally different matters and forms should include an option that allows people to selfidentify (e.g., ‘other: please specify’). 17.8 Guidance on the most appropriate questions to ask should be sought from reputable and competent organisations, who can often supply a ready-made formatted document. 17.9 Advice on how to analyse and interpret monitoring data should also be sought from specialist organisations and professionals in order to avoid erroneous decisions or assumptions. 17.10 Relying on one individual to devise monitoring questions might result in restrictive, ineffective forms if the person is not appropriately qualified or sufficiently aware of sexual orientation and gender identity issues. 18.0

Concluding Comments

18.1

Whilst many people now voice support for LGB equality, in practice things can be quite different. Some may express support, but at the same time wish for circumspect conversations that do not refer to partners, likes and dislikes, social activities or friends. This can be extremely repressive for an LGB person.

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18.2 18.3 18.4 18.5 18.6 18.7 18.8

18.9

18.10 18.11

18.12 18.13

Specialist casework and advocacy is extremely important in supporting LGB people. Funding and support is needed to ensure adequate and sustainable services for the LGB community. Improving resources that deal with LGB issues will benefit not only LGB people, but also their families and everyone they come into contact with. Initiatives to increase community capacity will also help improve the quality and continuity of peer-based counselling, support, and advocacy across Wales. Engagement in specialist support services can be a positive step in addressing the needs of LGB individuals, which can in turn contribute to positive systemic change and improvement in their quality of life. Engagement with organisations like the LGBT Excellence Centre can provide education for professionals and opportunities for organisations to develop and improve resources for LGB service users. Training and other awareness-raising activities should be prioritised and adequately funded throughout public services, especially those that are on the front line. Professionals involved in equality, training, and education can work towards the inclusion of sexual orientation content in existing education materials, and support the development of new forms of training. None of these tasks can be carried out by LGB community groups alone. The stigma associated with alternative sexual orientation can affect professionals and other individuals, who are marginalised by colleagues for working with people commonly perceived as ‘perverts’ or ‘freaks’. This can be particularly challenging for those who are advocating for change within their own work setting – for example, a member of staff who is challenging discriminatory practices in a hospital, prison, or community workplace. Collaboration and sharing of successful strategies among organisations that focus on sexual orientation can provide sustainable and effective solutions for the everchanging challenges of practice. Activities and initiatives that encourage LGB people to develop self-knowledge, self-reliance, confidence, and self-esteem should be fostered. Such initiatives would allow them to address the issues that affect their participation in their communities and society in general. LGB and the organisations that support them should be encouraged to act with self-determination in order to ensure their active involvement in decision making and the wider community. LGB issues affect the wider community. Many non-LGB people censor their behaviour and remain silent on things such as their likes and dislikes if they believe they may be perceived as ‘gay’. Such fears reduce their ability to combat homophobia and biphobia.

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Sexual Orientation Briefing - Oct 2012