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Stonewall: LGBT community rife with racism

51 per cent of BAME LGBT people face discrimination within the LGBT community

Stonewall, the UK’s leading charity for lesbian, gay, bi and trans equality, has released new research  that shows the depth of racism within the LGBT community. The report also reveals a high percentage of LGBT people who are still not able to be open with friends and family. Half of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) LGBT people (51 per cent) said they’ve faced discrimination or poor treatment from the wider LGBT community.

The situation is particularly acute for black LGBT people: three in five (61 per cent) have experienced discrimination from other LGBT
people, according to the Stonewall study. The research, based on YouGov polling of over 5,000 LGBT people, exposes the extent to which BAME LGBT people face discrimination based on both their sexual orientation and/or gender identity,and their race; also known as ‘double discrimination’.

The abuse BAME LGBT people face from the community includes feeling excluded from LGBT specific spaces and hurtful comments. Racist language and behaviour leaves already marginalised members of the LGBT community feeling shut out and isolated. These statistics are from a new Stonewall report investigating the experiences of different groups of LGBT people at home, in LGBT communities and their faith communities.

Acceptance from family and friends was found to still be a problem for many LGBT people. Only half of lesbian, gay and bi people (46 per cent) and trans people (47 per cent) feel able to be open about their sexual orientation and/or gender identity to their whole family. A third of bi people (32 per cent) say they cannot be open about their sexual orientation with anyone in their family.

The research also found that trans people, LGBT disabled people, and those of faith were at significant risk of exclusion from other LGBT people. More than a third of trans people (36 per cent), one in four (26 per cent) LGBT disabled people whose activities are limited a lot, and one in five LGBT people of non-Christian faith (21 per cent) say they’ve experienced discrimination from within the community.

The report makes several recommendations, and these were developed with groups and individuals from the communities featured in the research. Ensuring more diversity in decision-making structures, commissioning anti-discrimination training, building links and partnership work with BAME and disability groups, as well as listening to and giving a platform to others, are some of the key steps that organisations should take.

Ruth Hunt, Chief Executive, Stonewall UK, said: “This research gives a worrying insight into just how serious a problem prejudice is within our community, and we need to talk about it. Users of dating apps will be familiar with phrases like ‘No blacks, no Asians’ and ‘No chocolate, no curry, no rice, no spice’ becoming the modern-day versions of ‘No blacks, no dogs, no Gypsies’. Both online and in their daily lives, LGBT people of colour are excluded and face stereotyping from their white peers. This leaves BAME LGBT people feeling unwelcome within the wider community. ‘This is unacceptable and it causes damage and mistrust. If real change for BAME LGBT people is to occur, we as a community need to hold a mirror to ourselves and have open conversations about how to change. This means learning to recognise our own privileges and to be active allies to each other.

Stonewall Chief Executive Ruth Hunt

“The same is true for Stonewall: we are absolutely aware that we too are on a journey and we have a long way to go. But we are committed to learning and getting it right going forward – both internally within Stonewall, and externally. To truly work with and for all LGBT communities, we have to be an active part of the solution to many of the issues outlined in this report. Our ‘Come Out For LGBT’ campaign is all about being visible and doing something to stand up for others. This research shows just how much those voices are needed if we are to get to a point where everyone in our community is included as an equal. It’s only by working together that we can create a world where all LGBT people are accepted without exception.”

As part of their research, Stomewall gathered the following testimonies:

“As a feminine bisexual woman, I have often been ‘read’ as straight and therefore frowned upon in LGBTQ spaces. For example, I was once refused entry to a famous London LGBTQ bar while in a group of friends who were mostly queer men of colour, and have received sarcastic comments from staff members at a local LGBTQ club. I believe very strongly that many LGBTQ spaces are not welcoming to people of colour, older trans people and visible disabled people.’ Sylvia, 20 (South East)

“Being autistic means that a lot of LGBT communities aren’t easily available to me and that people have questioned whether my orientation is a by-product of my disability rather than a thing of its own.’ Louis, 32 (South East)

“Remember that it’s not just white cis abled people who are LGBT+. I am an Arab, ex Muslim, autistic, mentally ill, poor brown girl who is also bi. No LGBT+ supports me or accommodates, I am invisible to you.” Asha, 21 (North West)

You can read the full LGBT in Britain Home and Communities report at www.stonewall.org.uk/communities

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