Study reveals ‘hidden epidemic’ as nearly one in three British LGBTQ+ people experience abuse by relatives
New survey reveals almost a third of LGBTQ+ people in the UK are victim’s of abuse by close family members as a result of their sexuality or gender identity.
The report, conducted by anti-abuse charity Galop, set out “to shine a light on abuse happening to LGBTQ+ people behind closed doors in the UK” and surveyed more than 5,000 LGBTQ+ people throughout February.
Alarming results reveal that almost one in three people (29%) surveyed experienced a range of abuse – from verbal harassment to threats of homelessness and physical violence – by a relative, most often their own parents, with individuals being humiliated, outed or shunned by family because of their sexuality or gender identity
Two-thirds of respondents were aged under 18 when the abuse first occurred and a significant number of victims noted that external support would have been beneficial, but that they did not, or felt that they were not able to access it.
People surveyed “described instances of regular humiliation by relatives, having their interactions with friends monitored, being outed by a sibling or thrown out of the family home and banned from visiting, as well as longer-term impacts on their capacity to build close relationships or feel comfortable with their sexuality.”
Other notable findings revealed:
- Transgender and non-binary people surveyed experienced higher levels of abuse from family members (43%).
- 5% of LGBTQ+ respondents reported being subjected to conversion practices, with a family member attempting to change, “cure” or suppress their sexual orientation or gender identity, increasing to 11% of trans and non-binary respondents.
- 60% of respondents who had experienced abuse from their family felt their LGBTQ+ identity was either the main reason or part of the reason.
- 63% of LGBTQ+ people surveyed were under 18 when they first experienced abuse from their family, and 30% were below the age of 11.
Leni Morris, the charity’s CEO, said: “When someone suffers abuse which targets them for who they fundamentally are, especially at such a formative age and at the hands of such an influential person, the repercussions are often lifelong”.
“This report echoes the severity and complexity of cases we are supporting at Galop, often within which victims have never told anyone about their experience,”
Morris added: “Anti-LGBTQ+ abuse from family members is often misinterpreted by statutory services as ‘generational differences’ or having ‘different values’ rather than seeing it for what it really is – domestic abuse. This leads to many LGBTQ+ people not having access to the support and help that they need in order to safely leave these abusive situations.
“LGBTQ+ people who try to escape abuse don’t have enough suitable accommodation in the UK to meet their needs. We regularly see LGBTQ+ victims of abuse and violence forced to choose between potentially dangerous emergency accommodation, homelessness, or staying with their abusers.”
The results come as UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson made a sharp double U-turn in LGBTQ+ legislation on Thursday night (31 March).
First the PM shockingly confirmed reports he was dropping plans to implement a long-overdue conversion therapy ban, before then deciding to go ahead with a ban, but disgracefully, not including trans people in it.
The practice of conversion therapy can take various forms but often refers to any form of treatment or psychotherapy which aims to change a person’s sexual orientation or to suppress a person’s gender identity, using psychological, physical, or spiritual interventions. It is based on the assumption that being lesbian, gay, bi or trans is a mental illness that can be ‘cured’.
These therapies are widely considered ineffective, unethical and harmful for anyone who undergoes the process.
Galop works directly with thousands of LGBT+ people who have experienced abuse and violence every year, specialising in supporting victims and survivors of domestic abuse, sexual violence, hate crime, and other forms of abuse including honour-based abuse, forced marriage, and so-called conversion therapies. For more information on Gallop or if you need to reach out, click here.