press release
Published: 05 October 2021

Trans people and cisgender gay men in the UK are most likely to experience violence

Researchers from the University of Surrey and King’s College London have examined the frequency lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals experience discrimination, harassment and violence.

Using responses from the LGBT survey conducted by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, they compared the findings of over 28,000 people identifying as LGBT in Germany, Portugal and the UK. 

The study is rare in comparing the experiences of LGBT communities across different countries and shows that LGBT individuals’ experiences do differ depending on where they live. It also presents considerable differences within each country, drawing attention to the diverse experiences within LGBT communities, who are often treated as a homogenous group.  

The study, which has been published by the journal Current Sociology, found that certain groups were less likely to report discrimination in all three countries. Bisexual cisgender men were the least likely to experience discrimination, but cisgender gay men and bisexual women were less likely to feel discriminated against than cisgender lesbians. Trans individuals in Germany and the UK were the most likely groups to experience discrimination. 

However, the groups most likely to experience violence were different. Gay cisgender men were more likely to experience violence compared to lesbians in all three countries. There was a gendered pattern putting cisgender gay and bisexual men at greater risk of violence than cisgender lesbian and bisexual women. Trans individuals were most likely to experience violent attacks or be threatened with violence in Germany and the UK. Overall, LGBT individuals in the UK were the most likely to experience violent incidents, with nearly a third (31%) of respondents saying they had been victims. 

Other factors also affect the likelihood of experiencing discrimination, harassment and violence. The likelihood of discrimination decreased with age in all three countries, while having a partner was associated with an increase in the experience of discrimination in Germany and the UK. LGBT individuals from minority ethnic backgrounds appeared less likely to experience discrimination in Germany and the UK, whereas religious minority status was linked with a higher likelihood of discrimination in all countries studied.  

The study found that having greater socioeconomic resources, such as a higher household income, educational level, or employment, reduced the likelihood of experiencing violence in all countries. This suggests that the risk of unfair treatment was linked to low socioeconomic status. 

Professor Andrew King, Head of Department of Sociology at the University of Surrey and lead on the project, said: 

“As well as causing stress, anxiety and physical harm, discrimination, harassment and violence shape LGBT people’s lives and put them at a disadvantage, which is why it’s crucial to understand the scale of the problem. By investigating these issues from an intersectional, comparative perspective and examining the likely experiences of different groups within groups, we start to get a clearer picture of what life is like for individuals and can better understand diversity.”  

Note to editors 

The research, entitled “LGBT discrimination, harassment and violence in Germany, Portugal and the UK: A quantitative comparative approach,” is published in Current Sociology, the official journal of the International Sociological Association. It was supported by NORFACE (New Opportunities for Research Funding Agency Cooperation in Europe) under a grant to the CILIA-LGBTQI+ Project: Comparing Intersectional Life Course Inequalities amongst LGBTQI+ Citizens in Four European Countries. More findings from the project are available online

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