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New Report from TUC Reveals That Nearly 7 in 10 LGBT People Say They Have Been Sexually Harassed at Work

Nearly 7 in 10 (68%) lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) people report being sexually harassed at work, according to new research published by the TUC on International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia today.

Published: 17 May 2019 | 12:00 AM Updated: 21 July 2021 | 3:51 PM
The MU at Pride
Musicians' Union representation at London Pride 2017. Photograph: Musicians' Union

The report – the first major study into LGBT sexual harassment at work in Great Britain found that:

  • More than 2 in 5 (42%) of LGBT people who responded to the survey said colleagues made unwelcome comments or asked unwelcome questions about their sex life.
  • More than a quarter (27%) reported receiving unwelcome verbal sexual advances.
  • Two-thirds (66%) said they did not tell their employer about the harassment, and quarter of those said they didn’t report because they were afraid of being ‘outed’ at work.

Highlighting an often underrepresented part of the #metoo movement

MU Deputy General Secretary Naomi Pohl responded to the news, addressing the clarity with which it presents issues for the music industry:

“The TUC report highlights an often underrepresented part of the #metoo movement by focusing on LGBT+ peoples experiences of sexual harassment.

“Unfortunately we live in a society where not everyone can be openly LGBT+ and musicians are still pressured to keep their sexuality or gender identity hidden because of fears it could damage their careers.

“A person’s sexuality or gender identity can be weaponised against them in these cases and used as way to silence people, which contributes to underreporting of the issue.

“LGBT+ musicians who are freelancers, often working late at night in environments where alcohol is consumed may be even more at risk and have even less protection and support if they experience sexual harassment.”

LGBT women, BME and disabled people

According the survey, LGBT women were more likely to experience unwanted touching and sexual assault at work.

  • Over a third of women (35%) reported they had experienced unwanted touching, for example placing hands on their lower back or knee.
  • Over one fifth (21%) reported experiencing sexual assault, for example unwanted touching of the breasts, buttocks or genitals, or attempts to kiss them.
  • One in eight (12%) LGBT women said they had been seriously sexually assaulted or raped at work.

BME women and disabled men and women reported even higher rates of harassment and sexual assault.

  • More than half (54%) of LGBT BME women said they have experienced unwanted touching at work, 45% reported sexual assault and more than a quarter (27%) reported serious sexual assault or rape.
  • Half (50%) of LGBT disabled women reported unwanted touching, nearly 4 in 10 (38%) reported sexual assault and almost a quarter (24%) reported serious sexual assault or rape.
  • Disabled men’s reported levels of sexual harassment and assault were significantly higher than non-disabled men, with more than 1 in 4 (28%) of disabled men reporting sexual assault.

Making change to protect vulnerable members

Current legislation isn’t enough to protect some of the MU’s most vulnerable members. We want to see:

  • An extension to the time limit within which a harassment or discrimination claim must be lodged to at least six months.
  • The Equality Act 2010 definitions extended to include self-employed workers.
  • A reintroduction of third party harassment provisions, without the three strikes test.
  • Regulated use of NDAs so they are not used unethically in cases where sexual harassment is alleged.

Any member who experiences sexual harassment or discrimination should contact their regional office for advice and support or via the MU’s safe space email Reports will be treated in the strictest confidence.

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