Think we live in a civilised society? Think again.
Research to be published in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence shows that prejudice against minority sexual orientations still fuels violence and crime. The most comprehensive study to date found that in a US sample of 662 gay men, lesbians and bisexuals, almost 4 in 10 gay men and 1 in 8 lesbians and bisexuals have been the targets of violence or property crime because of their sexual orientation.
The author of the study, Professor Gregory Herek, explains further on his blog Beyond Homophobia:
"I conducted the survey in 2005 with a nationally representative sample of 662 lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults. Participants reported their experiences with violence, property crimes, and harassment based on their sexual orientation since they turned 18 [...] Here are some key findings:
- 13% of respondents said they had been hit, beaten, physically attacked, or sexually assaulted because of their sexual orientation.
- 15% had been robbed or had their property stolen, vandalized, or purposely damaged.
- Combining these two groups, 21% had experienced either violence or a property crime.
- 14% said someone had tried to attack them, rob them, or damage their property, but didn't succeed.
- 23% had been threatened with violence.
- 13% had an object thrown at them.
- 49% had been verbally insulted or abused because of their sexual orientation."
It gets worse
On top of this, Professor Herek also found over half of the respondents manifested 'felt stigma'. As a result they perceived most employers were likely to discriminate against them. No wonder, then, that homosexual adults are much less likely than heterosexuals to tell others of their sexual orientation in many different social contexts.
These figures are important because few countries actually produce official statistics on hate crimes motivated by bias against minority sexual orientations. Actual levels are difficult to ascertain as many attacks (understandably) go unreported.
Read the abstract and download a pre-publication draft of the paper