The UK Government has released its LGBT Action Plan in response to the results of the National LGBT Survey, the largest national survey of LGBT people ever conducted in the world.
Launched in July 2017, over 108,ooo people participated and two-thirds of them said they had avoided holding their same-sex partner’s hand in public for fear of a negative reaction.
“We can be proud that the UK is a world leader in advancing LGBT rights, but the overwhelming response to our survey has shone a light on the many areas where we can improve the lives of LGBT people,” said Prime Minister Theresa May.
“I was struck by just how many respondents said they cannot be open about their sexual orientation or avoid holding hands with their partner in public for fear of a negative reaction.”
“No one should ever have to hide who they are or who they love. This LGBT action plan will set out concrete steps to deliver real and lasting change across society, from health and education to tackling discrimination and addressing the burning injustices that LGBT people face.”
The survey found that LGBT respondents are less satisfied with their life than the general UK population (rating satisfaction 6.5 on average out of 10 compared with 7.7). Trans respondents had particularly low scores (around 5.4 out of 10).
At least 2 in 5 respondents had experienced an incident because they were LGBT, such as verbal harassment or physical violence, in the 12 months preceding the survey. However, more than 9 in 10 of the most serious incidents went unreported, often because respondents thought ‘it happens all the time’.
25% of respondents were hiding their sexuality from family members they live with.
23% of respondents had work colleagues react negatively to them being LGBT.
2% of respondents had undergone conversion or reparative therapy in an attempt to ‘cure’ them of being LGBT, and a further 5% had been offered it.
24% of respondents had accessed mental health services in the 12 months preceding the survey.
56% of transgender men and 59% of transgender women said they had avoided expressing their gender identity for fear of a negative reaction from others.
The plan includes 75 commitments to improve the lives of LGBT people during the current Parliament. Some of the key actions include:
Appointing a national LGBT health adviser to provide leadership on reducing the health inequalities that LGBT people face;
Extending the anti-homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying programme in schools;
Taking further action on LGBT hate crime – improving the recording and reporting of, and police response to, hate crime.
The plan also includes a new government commitment to banning conversion therapy.
“We will bring forward proposals to end the practice of conversion therapy in the UK. These activities are wrong, and we are not willing to let them continue,” the plan states.
“We will fully consider all legislative and non-legislative options to prohibit promoting, offering or conducting conversion therapy.”
“Our intent is to protect people who are vulnerable to harm or violence, whether that occurs in a medical, commercial or faith- based context."
Reaction to the plan has been mixed. Chief Executive of the LGBT Foundation, Paul Martin OBE, praised the government for listening to the survey, while human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell criticised the budget as “derisory and insulting.” He also noted the lack of support to address the persecution of LGBT people fleeing violently homophobic countries and the omission of compensation for men convicted of crimes under anti-gay laws in the UK.