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safety - key findings 

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verbal abuse as a result of being LGBT
physical abuse as a result of being LGBT
reporting to the police
safety in specific locations
involvement in community safety initiatives

verbal abuse as a result of being LGBT

Section E then moved on to safety issues to better understand LGBT people’s experiences of verbal and/or physical abuse and the effect of those crimes. Respondents were asked first of all about verbal assault. Two-thirds of respondents (68%, 616 respondents) stated that they had been verbally abused or threatened by someone who has assumed that they were LGBT at some point in their lives. 35% (295 respondents) stated that they had been a victim of such abuse in the last 12 months. The responses did not vary much by gender, age or location, but those aged under 24 were more likely to state that they had experienced this in the last twelve months (42%, 82 respondents) than older respondents. Those who were transgender (whilst recognising that this was a small base) were more likely to have experienced verbal abuse in the past twelve months than other genders, but the ‘ever’ response was at a similar level to other genders.

Table 37: Verbal abuse (pdf 14 kb)

Nearly a third of incidents occurred in the street (31%, 158 respondents) and 15% of respondents mentioned specific locations. 13% (69 respondents) had been verbally abused at school or university and 11% (59 respondents) at work.

The most frequently mentioned specific locations were Glasgow (38%, 29 respondents) and Edinburgh (28%, 21 respondents). Various other locations in Scotland were mentioned by 25 respondents (33%). Nine respondents (12%) had been verbally abused in other areas of the UK and 4 respondents (5%) indicated they had been verbally abused while abroad.

Table 38: Location of abuse (pdf 14 kb)

physical abuse as a result of being LGBT

It was depressing to see that one quarter of respondents (23%, 208 respondents) had been physically assaulted at some time by someone who had assumed that they were LGBT. Fortunately, three-quarters of respondents had not experienced this. However, 5% of respondents (46 respondents) had experienced this in the last 12 months. Female respondents were less likely to have experienced physical assault than male or transgender respondents.

Table 39: Violence (pdf 14 kb)

As physical abuse came through as such a key theme of the survey, this was explored further in the on-line focus group. One person participated in the discussion on-line and another sent comments by email a few days later. The view from both was that there is a significant amount of abuse directed at LGBT people. This is primarily verbal but physical abuse was also present. One participant felt that this was not so common now as culture has changed to a more open-minded society. His view was that abuse was usually perpetrated by “low-intelligence thugs” who had a gang mentality and were “usually teenagers going through psychological, physical and emotional change themselves and looking for a scapegoat”.

The other participant detailed dreadful domestic abuse which she had suffered within a lesbian relationship. She had also experienced verbal abuse in a pub and outside nightclubs (as the gay nightclub she visits is close to a ‘straight’ nightclub). She attributed being a target for abuse in public places to “looking dykey”, with short hair, jeans, t-shirt, etc. Neither contributor would change the way they dressed as a result of abuse they had experienced. She had also experienced homophobia in the care profession so had changed jobs because of this.

23% (44 respondents) of survey respondents stated that this attack had taken place at a specific location, whilst 16% (31 respondents) stated that they had taken place in the street and 12% (24 respondents) at school/university. Again Glasgow (30%, 13 respondents) and Edinburgh (18%, 8 respondents) were the most commonly mentioned specific locations. Thirty-two percent (14 respondents) indicated they had been in other areas of Scotland when the physical assault took place.

Table 40: Location of violence (pdf 14 kb)

reporting to the police

Only 17% of those who responded to the question of whether they had reported a verbal or physical assault to the police stated that they had. 29% of those who had experienced both physical and verbal assault had reported it (58 respondents). The focus group contributors felt that it was not worth reporting incidents to the police (in public places or domestic abuse) as previous experience showed that “it just goes into a black hole” (even with names, addresses, telephone numbers, etc. of perpetrators) or it would be too difficult to explain.

Table 41: Reporting to police (pdf 13 kb)

Less than half of those who did report it to the police felt that it had been dealt with efficiently, thoroughly and sensitively (43%, 35 respondents) whilst 56% felt that this was not the case.

Table 42: Handling of report (pdf 13 kb)

Three out of five respondents who did not report an incident (61%, 242 respondents) stated that there was a reason for this. The reasons for not reporting the incident(s) to the police were because they felt it would be a waste of time/not serious enough (37%, 88 respondents), that they didn’t think the police would bother (36%, 85 respondents) and that it was verbal not physical abuse (12%, 29 respondents).

Table 43: Reasons for non reporting (pdf 14 kb)

There was a suggestion from a focus group participant that “there has to be a directive from the Scottish Parliament to make it clear that the police have no business in interpreting their priorities according to race, gender or any of the ‘Equality’ groups.”, as there was a perceived institutional homophobia against LGBT people. There was also the suggestion to issue each complainant with an incident number and to allow them to tick boxes to authorise particular groups, in an advocacy capacity, to be allowed to progress the complaint on their behalf. This was seen to be a step in the right direction. Both contributors felt that work still required to be done with the police and with society in general to increase understanding and acceptance of LGBT people.

safety in specific locations

A number of specific locations were then tested with respondents regarding whether they had felt unsafe. The table below shows that the street is the place where most people have felt unsafe (61%, 519 respondents) at some point, followed by in or near a non-gay bar or club (47%, 386 respondents) and public transport (45%, 373 respondents).

Table 44: Unsafe locations (pdf 24 kb)

involvement in community safety initiatives

Nine percent of respondents (85 respondents) stated that they were involved in community safety initiatives, either LGBT specific or non-LGBT, in their area.

Table 45: Community safety (pdf 13 kb)

For those who were not, 14% (104 respondents) were interested in becoming involved in a community safety initiative in their area which was LGBT focussed and 8% (62 respondents) in one which was not specifically LGBT focussed. 40% (299 respondents) stated that they were not interested and the remainder were unsure.

Table 46: Interest in community safety initiatives (pdf 14 kb)

Click here to download the Safety section as a pdf (27 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

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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