Category Archives: gays

Gay students get death threats

More than 150,000 students in the UK have been bullied at secondary school because they are gay, a new survey found.

Over two thirds of lesbian and gay pupils have been victimised by homophobic bullying, with abuse ranging from verbal abuse to violence to death threats at the hands of students and staff alike. Of those, 92 per cent (143,000) have experienced verbal bullying, 41 per cent (64,000) physical bullying and 17 per cent (26,000) death threats.

The study also discovered that that half of teachers did not intervene when students used homophobic language, using derogatory labels like “dyke”, “queer” or “rug muncher”.

Catherine, 13, from a single sex independent school (South East) explained that “ teachers join in on the joke’.

Ben Summerskill, Stonewall chief executive, said “These deeply disturbing figures should serve as a wake-up call to everyone working in education.”

“This is a damning legacy of Section 28, which deterred schools from tackling anti-gay bullying for so long. This remains one of the few sorts of bullying about which too many schools still take no action. It blights the lives not just of gay children but of thousands of pupils perceived to be lesbian or gay too.”

The Stonewall survey polled 1,145 young people and found that 7/10 of those who have experienced homophobic bullying said it has adversely affected their school work. Half of those bullied say they have missed school as a result.

Ali, 17, from a secondary school in London said, “On three occasions I’ve been assaulted and had to go to hospital to be examined and get the police involved”.

‘People call me ‘gay’ everyday, sometimes people kick me and push me, they shut me out of games during school gym and they steal my belongings, “ said James, 17, from a secondary school in the South West.

Stonewall’s survey is the largest poll of young gay people ever conducted in the UK.

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TUC lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender annual conference

Several hundred lesbian and gay workers are gathering in central London over the next two days to debate a series of key equality issues at the annual TUC Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender conference.

Delegates attending the event at the TUC’s Congress House HQ will hear speeches from TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber, Commission for Equality and Human Rights Chair Trevor Phillips and MP Angela Eagle.

Motions to be discussed by delegates include the portrayal of lesbian and gay people in the media, the monitoring of sexuality in the workplace and the potential conflict between religious belief and sexual orientation.

Addressing the conference today (Thursday), TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: ‘Sometimes it’s easy to forget just how far we’ve come in the past decade. Ten years ago, gay rights were seen as a minority pursuit – now they’re part of the political mainstream. Ten years ago, the debate was about Section 28 – now we celebrate civil partnerships. And ten years ago, discrimination against the gay community in the provision of goods and services was quite legal – now, at long last, it has been outlawed.

‘But as we celebrate that progress, we cannot afford to relax our guard. This is not the time for us to take of eye of the ball. Despite all the legal gains – despite our largely liberal, tolerant society – the ugly scar of homophobia continues to blight the lives of so many people in your community. The young student bullied at college, the lesbian taunted about her sexuality, the gay couple hounded from their home.

‘However welcome they may be, changes on the statute book count for little unless they are matched by a corresponding change in attitudes. Think about our workplaces. We know from our own research that four in ten LGBT workers have faced abuse at work because of their sexuality.

‘And let’s not forget the challenges faced by LGBT people worldwide. From the casual murder of gay men in Jamaica to state-sponsored persecution in Iran, from the alarming rise in homophobia in Russia to the death squads of Iraq, members of your community are under attack as never before. None of us can afford to turn a blind eye – an injury to one is an injury to all. But where there is discrimination, unions will seek to remove it. Where there is inequality, we will tackle it. And where there is injustice, we will wage war on it.’

Lesbian and gay trends in the City

On the day the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) regulations come into force new research indicates how far the City has moved to overcome its traditional image as an inhospitable environment for gay and lesbian employees.

London is the unrivalled gay and lesbian capital of Europe and also the continent’s leading financial centre. The government estimates that 6% of the UK population is lesbian or gay. London’s population is nearer 10%, thanks to thriving gay scene.

Research carried out by financial services recruiter Joslin Rowe, surveyed 3,676 candidates for City roles and collated information on sexuality for diversity monitoring purposes over the last two years.

Two years ago, 5.9% of respondents anonymously identified themselves as gay or lesbian, but this had risen to 8.2% in the last twelve months as legislative changes and a diversity drive in the financial services industry encouraged more applicants.

These figures indicate that out of the 900,000 people working in banking, finance, and insurance in London, 73,800 are gay or lesbian.

Tara Ricks, Managing Director of Joslin Rowe Associates said: ‘Traditionally the City was perceived as white, heterosexual and male – which put off many gay and lesbian applicants.”

“As a result, the proportion of gay and lesbian workers was far below the national average ten years ago – but it was extremely rare for firms to monitor their own performance in this area so it is difficult to benchmark quite how bad the situation was. Times have changed and diversity is now at the centre of recruitment and human resources policy.”

“The City knows it must attract the best talent from all walks of life. Many firms now actively target gay undergraduates, for example, something that was not the case five or ten years ago. The trend has now seen City firms grow the proportion of their staff who are gay – up to 8.2% of the workforce and overtaking the current national average of 5.9%.”

‘All the major investment banks now have gay networking groups and large sponsorship deals at gay events across the City . Across the industry, organisations such as Out in the City, the Interbank Gay and Lesbian Network and City Pink (which targets women only) provide opportunities for gay and lesbian employees to meet and mix. None of this existed five years ago. What’s more, investment banks now come top of Stonewall’s Corporate Equality Index as the best place to work for homosexual employees. Indeed, nine of the Top 25 organisations in the country are City firms .’

Although the City has narrowed the gap in the last four years, it still has some way to go.

There are 16,000 fewer gay or lesbian employees in the industry compared to the mix in London’s general population.

Furthermore, the extent to which people are ‘out’ in their firms is far smaller than the number who privately acknowledge that they are homosexual.

Arguably, City workers are more likely to keep their own counsel than those in other industries like the media with a traditionally more open attitude. This is particularly so for women. In Joslin Rowe’s research, women in the City were far less likely to identify themselves (even anonymously) than men as homosexual.

Tara Ricks said: ‘The City has made huge strides in recent years, but is still a challenging and competitive place to work. The reluctance of women to come out as lesbians possibly reflects the fact that women already feel they have to fight hard to maintain equality with men.’

‘Of course there is no reason why people should disclose their sexuality at work – it is irrelevant to their ability to do the job. In an ideal world we wouldn’t be counting anyone. But these are not exercises designed to label people. They have been created as positive tools to measure and encourage progress – rather than relying on mere compliance to drive change.’

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