Labour Research October 2012

Equality news

Problems of being black and gay

Lesbian, gay and bisexual people from black and minority ethnic groups can encounter serious problems when accessing public services, from education and healthcare through to the criminal justice system, a report shows.

One minority at a time, published by gay rights charity Stonewall and the Runnymede Trust race equality think tank, found that the decision about whether to be open about their sexual orientation was for many participants directly influenced by their ethnic identity.

It found that those who had experienced or who felt vulnerable to racism worried about what they might experience if people knew about their sexual orientation as well. It also exposed widespread assumptions that black people are heterosexual, with little effort being made to correct this view.

Participants explained that increased visibility of black and minority ethnic lesbian gay and bisexual people in frontline public services would increase their confidence both in themselves and in knowing that their needs are going to be understood.

Key concerns voiced by the 50 participants were that public sector workers rarely consider multiple identities and assume that black and minority ethnic people are heterosexual and there is little, if any, opportunity to disclose sexual orientation when accessing public services.

In healthcare, wrong assumptions about sexuality can lead to people not being open with health workers and sometimes stops them from accessing healthcare at all.