People who are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender often face discrimination because of their sexuality or gender identity.
This is known as homophobia or transphobia and the consequences of this prejudice can be very serious, causing people to experience low self-esteem and to suffer verbal and physical attacks.
Homphobia means the hatred, dislike or fear of gay, lesbian, or bisexual people, and transphobia applies to the hatred, dislike or fear of trans people. These feelings are not rational and there is no reason why anyone should be discriminated against or treated differently because of their sexuality or gender identity. If you are faced with discrimination or bullying it is important to remember that the people with the prejudice are the ones with the problem, not you.
The Equality Act 2010
Under the Equality Act 2010, sexuality is a protected characteristic - as is gender reassignment. This means that trans people (regardless of whether they have had any surgery) and lesbian, gay and bisexual people are protected in law from harassment, victimisation or discrimination in the workplace, in education or when using services.
Trans people are also protected under the Gender Recognition Act 2004 which enables them to apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate if they meet certain criteria.
Lots of young lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people face bullying at school and this can have a big impact on them as they grow up. Being bullied can cause people to avoid school, feel depressed and have low self-esteem, or even to self-harm or commit suicide.
Even if someone is not directly bullied because of their sexuality, homophobic language is often used in schools, such as using the word ‘gay’ in a derogatory way to describe something that is lame or stupid. While some people may think this is harmless, things like this can make it difficult for lesbian, gay, or bisexual people to tell others about their sexuality and cause them to feel isolated.
If you are being bullied because of your sexuality or gender identity it is really important that you speak to someone about this. If it is happening at school you are protected by the Equality Act 2010. Tell a trusted teacher or staff member as they will be able to support you and hopefully stop the bullying.
If it is happening at work you are protected by The Equality Act 2010. There are a number of sources of support including colleagues, managers and your Human Resources department. If you raise a grievance, the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) has a Code of Practice which your employer should follow. ACAS can also provide support to you via their helpline and website.
You can also access support and advice from other organisations such as your trade union, the Citizens Advice Bureau or a Law Centre. Additionally, Educational Action Challenging Homophobia (EACH) – is a charity that works with employers and organisations who are committed to realising an equal and safe working environment.
If a person is verbally or physically attacked because they are (or their attacker thinks they are) LGBT, this is classed as a hate crime. You have the right to go to the police and report what has happened. Your local police force should have a team which have been trained to deal with hate crimes. They can give you advice and investigate what has been happening.
You can also contact THT Direct on 0808 802 1221 for advice and support.