Words: Steve Brown
Around seven in 10 LGBTQ people have suffered from sexual harassment at work, according to a new survey.
According to the study by Trades Union Congress (TUC), jokes and comments of a sexual nature were the most-reported forms of abuse with nearly half of all LGBTQ employees saying they had experienced such behaviour.
The study – which was released today (May 17) marking the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia – also found that one in six said they had received unwanted emails or pornographic images and one in eight LGBTQ women reported they were seriously sexually assaulted or raped at work.
Shockingly, the study revealed most people did not report the harassment to their boss as many feared they would be outed at work.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “This research reveals a hidden epidemic.
“In 2019, LGBTQ people should be safe and supported at work, but instead they’re experiencing shockingly high levels of sexual harassment and assault.”
The study also revealed that LGBTQ women are more likely to experience harassment at work compared to men.
More than half of LGBTQ BAME women said they had experienced unwanted touching at work, and exactly half of disabled women said the same.
A quarter said they had reported serious sexual assault or rape.
Disabled men were also found to suffer abuse with one in five reporting serious sexual assault.
“Workplace culture needs to change,” O’Grady added.
“No one should think that a colleague being LGBT is an invitation for sexualized comments or inappropriate questions — let alone serious acts of assault.”
A spokesman for the Government Equalities Office said: “It is appalling LGBT people are suffering this harassment. Workplaces should be safe, supportive environments for everybody.
“The government will consult shortly on how we can strengthen and clarify existing laws on third-party harassment, as well as making sure employers fully understand their legal responsibility to protect their staff.”