What is it?

`Homophobic bullying’ is when someone is verbally or physically bullied because they are lesbian, gay or bisexual, or even because people think they are – perhaps looking or behaving in a way that other people think means they are gay. This can include using derogatory words like ‘poof’ and ‘homo’ to make people feel bad.

Bullying is often experienced when we are young and at school. According to Stonewall Scotland, almost two thirds (65%) of young gay men and women have been the victim of homophobic bullying in school, 98% of students hear phrases like ‘that’s so gay’ regularly at school and 7 out of 10 students who suffer homophobic bullying say it affects their school work. However, adults in the workplace can also suffer from bullying and discrimination.

What signs of bullying might I experience?

Bullying can take on various forms. You may suffer verbal abuse, be gossiped about in a nasty way, ignored and excluded by others, experience homophobic cyber bullying, death threats and in extreme cases even suffer physical assault.

How might I be supported if bullying is affecting me?

In 2010, the Equality Act was passed which included a piece of legislation called Public Duty. The Public Duty is a new piece of equality law which means that public services, including schools, have to take positive steps to help lesbian, gay and bisexual people feel included. The law says they have to tackle bullying and unfair treatment of gay people, ensure gay people get the same opportunities as others and help to ensure that people of all sexual orientations get on well together.

In the workplace, all employees of every age are also protected by the Equality Act. There are different forms of discrimination that gay people are protected from under this law:

  • Direct discrimination is treating people less favourably than others because of their sexual orientation. For example, not giving them a job or not promoting them because they are or are believed to be lesbian, gay or bisexual.
  • Indirect discrimination is when you may be treated in the same way as everybody else, but it has a different and worse effect on you because of who you are, such as procedures and rules at work. For example, if your employer arranges a conference in a country where homosexuality is illegal and there is no good reason for it to be held there, this could be classed as indirect discrimination.
  • Harassment is unwanted behaviour which you find offensive or which makes you feel intimidated or humiliated. It can happen on its own or alongside other forms of discrimination. For example, a gay man working in a cafe and their colleagues making loud and offensive comments about him.