What did they tell us? Stonewall’s “Serving You Right”

Last issue, Sue George reported on Stonewall’s latest bi-marginalising report.  But apart from that Britain’s biggest LGB lobbying organisation still don’t get it, what else does “Serves You Right” tell us?

As someone who was interviewed for it, I have to say that the published survey was a little peculiar.  Whilst the survey began with checking whether respondents were lesbian, gay or bisexual, the report was written as if only those who were lesbian or gay were counted-in.  It seems not, and indeed that there were a significant number of bi-identifying respondents, so let us lookat what the statistics had to say.

At the low end of the scale, only 7% of respondents expected to be treated worse than heterosexuals whenseeing a GP or receiving routine or emergency hospital treatment.  This is the only point where Stonewall note a gender differential, as that 7% has twice as many women as men. There is much more health funding for work with gay men (and in theory bi men, but that’s another whole article) than for work with gay and bi women: coincidence?

Nearly twice as many, 16%, think a magistrate would treat them less well when charged with aminor offence.  Though that’s nothing next tothe 60% who think they’d have trouble becominga magistrate due to their sexual orientation.

One in five expect to be treated less well by the police when reporting a crime, including that homophobic hate crimes would be considered less serious.  A similar number think they have lesschance of getting a council or housing association home.  More distressingly, one in five is also the proportion who had experienced homophobic bullying in the workplace during thelast five years.

Around half those surveyed thought portrayal of gay people onTV is unrealistic – and while 80% think Channel 4 would take complaints about that seriously, only 30% thought the same of ITV.

There are still strong expectations of prejudice in public life: 80% expected to face barriers to becoming a school governor.

Standing for political office was also seen as riddled with problems with 70% of Conservative supporters thinking they would encounter problems being selected as a council or parliamentary candidate, and smaller but significant proportions for most other parties (UKIP and unsurprisingly the BNP were considered less open to LGB candidates than the Tories)

So much so interesting.  It would of course be a lot more rewarding to have a breakdown between the bi and lesbian / gay respondents.  That would give us one of three possible sets of statistics: either that the experiences and expectations of bisexual people were the same as lesbians and gay men; or that bis have it either better or worse.  Those outcomes would respectively suggest that homophobia affects us all, gay or bi; or that the “heterosexual privilege” bisexuals are sometimes accused of benefiting from does have at least some basis in bi experience; or that the ‘double prejudice’ of belonging to neither of the perceived main options on sexuality brings added problems.

My suspicion is that it would vary a lot from category to category, for instance that being bi in political life would be seen as more challenging than being gay.  But as long as Stonewall’s reports actually only refer to “lesbians and gay men”, we can only guess.

More frustratingly, both findings and recommendations are written as being about lesbians and gay men. That means bi activists and groups cannot use any of their findings for supporting evidence when trying to get funding bodies or public agencies to give bisexuals our righteous slice of cake to have and eat.

It was the same story with Stonewall’s previous reports, Tuned Out (on media representation) and Living Together (on attitudes of wider society to lesbian, and gay people).

Here’s hoping Stonewall will present their next set of findings more usefully.