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LGBT Research in Scotland
Mapping LGBT Scotland
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first out... executive summary

On this page:

background and objectives
key findings
conclusions and recommendations

background and objectives

Beyond Barriers (UK) commissioned a national survey of LGBT people in summer of 2002. The overall aim of the research was to provide greater insight into the lives and concerns of LGBT people in order to improve the services provided to them and to set the agenda for the work of Beyond Barriers (UK) .


The research used three different media: a paper-based questionnaire, an on-line questionnaire and an on-line focus group. A total of 924 responses to the survey were received.

key findings


  • Sixty percent of respondents were male and 35% female. The remaining 5% described their gender identity as something else, primarily transgender.
  • Two-thirds of respondents stated their sexual identity to be gay, 16% lesbian and 12% bisexual. One third of female respondents stated themselves to be gay.
  • Openness about sexual identity with different types of people varied. Openness was highest amongst friends (95%) and family (80%), followed by work colleagues (76%) and employers (68%). However, openness was not so common with banks, GPs and elected representatives. Those aged 25 – 49 and in urban areas tended to be more open than others. If the respondent was not open, it was most likely to be because sexual identity was not seen to be relevant, or had not come up in discussion. There was some concern over prejudice, particularly with regard to health and financial matters, however.
  • One in five respondents, or their partners, had children. This was more common amongst female than male respondents and those in rural areas. Just over a third of respondents (37%) with children, have children living with them, again this was more common with female respondents. 85% of children were as a result of heterosexual relationships whilst 9% had self inseminated.
  • 17% of those who do not have children plan to bring up children in the future, whilst 51% do not. The remainder were unsure.
  • 60% of respondents would like to register civil partnerships if this was possible. Female respondents were particularly keen to do this.
  • 45% of respondents expressed concerns with regard to ageing and these were more common as the age of the respondent increased. The main concern was of being alone, isolated and lonely, followed by poor health, loss of looks, a lack of LGBT friendly services and partnership rights.

  • 57% of respondents felt part of the wider community, but 27% did not.
  • 58% of respondents considered there to be an LGBT community in Scotland, but 13% did not. This reduced to 42% perceiving there to be an LGBT community in their own area, when 21% did not think this was the case. Female respondents were more likely to consider this to be the case than others, and those aged 25 – 49 were least likely to identify an LGBT community.
  • Respondents were asked to select which of a number of phrases embodied the LGBT community for them. The top six to be selected were: actual physical areas to meet (56%); friendship/support (54%); place to meet (45%); diverse collection of like-minded people (44%); a community of people around the world who share concerns and issues (42%); and a safe space (41%). However, 13% considered the LGBT community to be exclusive rather than inclusive, 9% considered it to be a ghetto and 4% a threatening place.
  • 45% of respondents felt part of the LGBT community and 29% did not. Those in rural areas and aged 25 – 49 were less likely to feel part of the community than respondents from urban areas.
  • One-third of respondents are involved in LGBT groups. They are involved primarily to support others/”give something back” and to meet people/make new friends. The reasons given for not being involved were the fact that there are no groups in the area or because they are “too cliquey”.
  • 40% of those who are not currently involved in LGBT groups are interested in becoming involved. 31% of respondents would also consider becoming involved in their local community in other ways, e.g. standing for local elections, campaigns, etc.
  • Just over a quarter of respondents (28%) had experienced discrimination or harassment in the LGBT community because of their age, gender identity, ethnic or cultural identity or disability. The top three reasons given were age, sexual identity and “not fitting the stereotype”.

  • 22% - 28% of respondents had experienced problems accessing information on health, community, human rights or youth issues. Female and transgender respondents were more likely to have experienced problems accessing information than male respondents.
  • The top issues people would like to see on the Beyond Barriers (UK) website were: partnership rights; health; LGBT groups; equal opportunity issues; human rights; and pubs/clubs.
  • 89% of respondents had access to the internet.
  • 82% would like to see a directory of LGBT groups/services. A web-based version would be preferred (80%), followed by a printed version of the directory (33%).

    consultation and research
  • The main issue facing LGBT people today was seen to be partnership rights (30%). Discrimination (22%), acceptance (16%) and equality generally (15%) were also seen to be important.
  • 61% of respondents expressed an interest in having a say on these issues, especially female respondents and those aged under 24.
  • Respondents to the survey were much more likely to vote in elections, as 83% vote in general elections, 71% in Scottish Parliament elections and 71% in local elections. Under 24s were less likely to vote (but may be too young, or have been too young at the time of the last elections).
  • One in five respondents stated that they were regularly surveyed about LGBT issues, particularly male respondents and those living in urban areas. Surveys have been on sexual health (particularly gay men’s sexual health), homophobic crime and drug use. 50% stated that they did not know if the research was being used effectively, whilst 34% thought it was.
  • 15% of respondents stated that they had done or intended to conduct some research into LGBT issues.
  • Respondents would particularly like to see bullying at work/school (42%), discrimination (39%) and LGBT funding (17%) researched.

  • 68% of respondents have been verbally abused or threatened by someone who has assumed they are LGBT at some time in their life, and 35% have experienced this in the past year. This has mainly occurred in the street.
  • 23% of respondents have experienced a physical assault because someone has assumed they are LGBT and 5% of respondents have experienced an assault in the past 12 months. This is more likely to have been experienced by male and transgender respondents than females.
  • Very few respondents (17%) had reported this to the police as it was considered to be a waste of time, not serious enough or the police would not do anything about it. Of those who had reported the incident to the police, 43% felt that the complaint had been handled well, whilst 56% did not think this was the case.
  • Respondents were then asked whether they felt safe in a number of different places. The places where LGBT people felt least safe were the street (61%), in or near a non-gay pub or venue (47%) or on public transport (45%).
  • One in ten respondents were involved in a community safety initiative of some sort in their area. 14% of those who are not currently involved in a community safety initiative would like to be involved in an LGBT-focussed initiative and 8% in one which is not necessarily LGBT-focussed.

    barriers to healthcare
  • 15% of respondents had experienced problems in accessing mainstream healthcare services. The main issue was inappropriate advice or treatment due to uninformed staff, followed by homophobic GPs or healthcare staff. However, many positive experiences with mainstream healthcare were also mentioned by respondents.

    conclusions and recommendations

    A number of conclusions and recommendations can be drawn from the research, as follows:

  • Work needs to be done with the general population to encourage a greater understanding, acceptance and integration of LGBT people into the community. There is a particular need to address any discrimination (real or perceived) with health and financial professionals.
  • Children may become more of an issue for LGBT in the future, but this does not appear to be a significant issue at this time.
  • There is strong support for the registration of civil partnerships.
  • There is a need for the wider community to be more accepting, but this is also true of the LGBT community which can be seen to be exclusive to some LGBT people.
  • Gay men are well served with information and services, but lesbian, transgender and bisexual people should be better targeted with information and services.
  • The Beyond Barriers (UK) website should provide information on partnership rights, health, LGBT groups, equal opportunities, human rights and pubs/clubs.
  • A web-based directory of LGBT groups and services would also be welcomed.
  • Research with LGBT people should be disseminated and duplication should be minimised to avoid respondent fatigue. Action on any findings is critical.
  • Other issues which people would like to see researched are bullying at work/school, discrimination and LGBT funding.

    Click here to download this section as a pdf (16 kb)

    Click on the titles below to access sections from the first out .

    Executive Summary

    Introduction to first out

    Profile of Respondents - key findings

    Community - key findings

    Information - key findings

    Consultation and Research - key findings

    Safety - key findings

    Barriers to Healthcare - key findings


    Conclusions and Recommendations

    If you would like to receive a copy of first out, then please contact Beyond Barriers (UK) . Click here to email the Beyond Barriers (UK) team.

    Alternatively, you can download a copy of the report. This make take some time as it is a large file.
    Click here to download a copy of first out (pdf 949 kb)

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