Sexual Harassment of the LGBT+ Workforce

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2019 National LGBT+ Conference
25 July 2019

Conference acknowledges the findings of the recent Trades Unions Congress (TUC) report “Sexual harassment of LGBT people in the workplace, published in May 2019, which details the shockingly high levels of sexual harassment and sexual assault faced by Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) workers. The reports sets out the unheard voices of LGBT workers with the increasing focus on sexual harassment in workplace brought about by the #MeToo campaign. It was noted that there was very little in-depth research carried out to understand the experience of LGBT workers.

Conference notes that the reports sets out to understand LGBT people’s experience of sexual harassment at work and to ensure that when governments, regulators, employers and unions develop their response to the “epidemic” of sexual harassment that #MeToo has revealed, the experiences of and needs of LGBT people are at the heart of this.

Around seven out of ten (68%) LGBT people who responded to the survey reported being sexually harassed at work, yet two thirds didn’t report it to their employer. One in four of those who didn’t report were prevented from raising the issue with their employer by their fear of being ‘outed’ at work.

The research found unacceptably high levels of sexual harassment across all different types of harassing behaviours for both LGBT men and women. LGBT women responding to the survey experienced higher levels of sexual harassment and sexual assault in many areas. LGBT women were more than twice as likely to report unwanted touching (35%), almost twice as likely to report sexual assault (21%) and serious sexual assault or rape (12%) compared to men. There were also some areas where men and women reported similar levels of sexual harassment.

Many of the incidents of sexual harassment highlighted by the report appeared to be linked to the sexualisation of LGBT identities and the misconception that these identities solely focus on sexual activity. People influenced by these stereotypes see being LGBT as an invitation to make sexualised comments or ask inappropriate questions about a person’s sex life.

Conference further notes that the results of the TUC report reflects the recent report, “It’s Never Ok” published by UNISON at this year’s National Delegates Conference, which details the sexual harassment of staff within the NHS.

Conference instructs the national Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Plus(LGBT+) committee to:

1)Highlight the findings of the TUC report to the National Executive Council, Service Group Committees and other self-organised group Committees to seek to ensure that the impact of sexual harassment on LGBT+ members is taken into account when campaigning and organising on this matter

2)Produce guidance for Branches and activists on “protection from sexual harassment for LGBT+ members”

3)Work with the National Executive Council, Service Group Committees and other self-organised group Committees to campaign for the reintroduction of Section 40 of the Equality Act 2010 on ‘third party protection’