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Gender, Abuse, Sexuality

LGBT+ Abuse and Violence

Anyone can experience abuse and violence but for LGBT+ people, violence and abuse often come in different forms that are directly linked to their gender identity or sexual orientation.


Abuse is always illegal and wrong. The Equality Act 2020 also makes it against the law to treat someone differently because of their gender identity or sexual orientation

Prejudice (an unfair feeling of dislike) towards people in the LGBT+ community has improved in many ways over the years. However, it has also evolved and continues to impact the daily lives of LGBT+ people:

Domestic Violence

Domestic violence/abuse is when a partner, ex-partner, family member of someone you live with uses control to have power over you. It can happen to anyone of any gender or sexual orientation, however, for LGBT+ people it often includes different elements of control that are linked to their identity. 

For example, the abuser might:  

  • Use ‘outing’ as a method of control. This could mean threatening to tell people their romantic or sexual orientation, gender identity, gender history, or HIV status without their consent.  
  • Pressure them to keep their identity or relationship a secret.  
  • Pressure them into sex or different types of sex by stereotyping their sexual orientation. They might say things like “you’re not a real lesbian/gay man/trans/etc if you don’t like…” 
  • Tell them that abusive behaviours are ‘normal’ in LGBT+ relationships  
  • Isolate them from sources of support including family, friends, and the LGBT+ community.  
  • Use their hormones or medication as a method of control 
  • Try to change or supress their sexual orientation or gender identity. 

Domestic abuse can be really difficult to deal with and to escape from. For LGBT+ people, domestic abuse can also make them question their sense of self, undermine their self-worth and reinforce internalised transphobia, biphobia and homophobia as they feel that they wouldn’t experience this violence or abuse if they weren’t LGBT+. This can make it even harder to get help.  

If you are experiencing domestic abuse, it’s important to remember that it is not your fault. You may feel that domestic abuse services are not for you or they won’t understand your situation as an LGBT+ person but there are specific organisations that can help you – Galop has an LGBT+ Domestic Abuse Helpline which you can contact on 0800 999 5428 

More about domestic violence   

Sexual violence 

Sexual violence covers a broad range of acts including sexual harassment, rape and sexual assault.  For an LGBT+ person it may also be directed towards their specific identity.  

Sexual violence experienced by LGBT+ people, can be driven by prejudice against the LGBT+ community (homophobia, biphobia, transphobia and acephobia) but it can also be carried out by people inside the LGBT+ community and within same-sex relationships. This can make it harder to spot and get help.  

If you’ve experienced rape or sexual abuse, you can contact Galop’s dedicated helpline on 0800 999 5428 

Your sexuality and sexual orientation are unique to you – there is no “right” way of expressing your sexual orientation. Your sexuality is always valid. No one should ever try to coerce you or talk you into doing something you’re uncomfortable with by commenting on your sexual orientation. For example, “you’re not a real lesbian/gay man/trans woman/trans man etc, if you don’t like…”. Sex and sexual activity of all kinds should always be something you feel comfortable with and makes you feel good.  

More about sexual violence  

Sexual harassment  

88% of LGBT+ survey respondents reported experiencing sexual harassment since the age of 18

It’s never okay for someone to make sexual comments, jokes or questions that make you feel uncomfortable, even if you think they don’t know any better. It can be hard to know what to do and you might feel that you just have to put up with it.  

  • If anyone is making you feel uncomfortable or has done in the past, you should speak to someone. 
  • If it’s happening at work, you could speak to your manager or, if it involves your manager, then you could speak to a more senior manager or a member of the human resources (HR) department.  
  • If it’s happening at school, you could talk to a teacher you trust or a parent or carer.  
  • If you don’t feel comfortable talking to someone you know, you can talk to an organisation who will be able to support you. Whether you take action is always your decision but they will be able to help you understand your options. 

More about sexual harassment  

Anti- LGBT+ Hate crime 

An anti-LGBT hate crime is any behaviour that is motivated by a prejudice (dislike) of someone’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

1 in 5 LGBT people have experienced a hate crime in the last 12 months

Hate crimes include: 

  • Stealing or damaging belongings 
  • Verbal abuse including using slurs or anti-LGBT names  
  • Physical assaults  
  • Acting in a threatening way 
  • Blackmail 
  • Sending abusive messages 

Hate crimes can be one-off incidents or may be a series of incidents. They can have a deep effect on the person experiencing hate crime. These crimes directly target the individual’s identity which can undermine their sense of self and impact on their mental health. They can have a physical impact on the person’s health or a financial impact if someone’s belongings are taken or they have to move house to avoid the attacks.   

If you’ve experienced hate crime, you can talk to Galop on 0800 999 5428. They won’t force you to contact the police or report it but are there to support you with whatever decision you want to make. It’s always entirely your decision if you want to report it to the police and there is an option to report it anonymously through Galop. If you do want to report a hate crime, you can also contact the LGBT Foundation on 0345 3 30 30 30 or email helpline@lgbt.foundation 

Conversion therapy 

Nearly 1 in 5 (18%) LGBT+ people in the UK have been subjected to someone trying to change, ‘cure’ or suppress their sexual orientation or gender identity

Conversion therapy, sometimes known as conversion practices, refers to anything that tries to change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity. This might be attempting to force someone into being heterosexual (also referred to as straight) or living as the same gender they were given at birth.  

This might include:  

  • Physical abuse 
  • Sexual assault and/or abuse  
  • Exorcisms or prayers 
  • Psychological and emotional abuse  
  • Controlling what they eat  

Often people are forced into conversion therapy by their family, community, religious leaders or healthcare professionals in an attempt to “correct” or “cure” them.   

This pressure to “become” heterosexual or cisgender can leave the person feeling that they are unaccepted as they are. Sometimes the individual may choose conversion therapy for themselves if they experience pressure from others or feel their sexual orientation or gender identity doesn’t align with their values, religion or morals.  

Conversion therapy is never okay, even if the individual says they want it. It’s not possible to change someone’s gender identity and/or sexual orientation because these are such important parts of who we are. 

Conversion therapy is not currently illegal in the UK but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t seek help if this is happening to you or if your mental health or wellbeing is suffering from conversion therapy you had in the past. You can contact Galop’s Conversion Therapy Helpline on 0800 130 3335 

Honour-based violence 

Honour-based violence is similar to conversion therapy as the person is not accepted as part of their community who then use violence against them. With honour-based violence the community or family believe that the identity of the individual brings dishonour and shame upon the group. They may then use emotional, psychological and/or physical abuse and it could also lead to forced marriage or being excluded from their community.

Getting help 

You have the right to be respected for who you are. This means you are never to blame for any abuse or violence you experience.  

LGBT+ people experience the same challenges that non-LGBT+ people face with reporting sexual violence and getting help but they also face more challenges. For instance, someone might not report abuse or violence or seek help because of: 

  • Fear of receiving a drugs offence due to involvement with chemsex (use of pleasure-inducing drugs during sex) 
  • Concerns that they might be misgendered or the courts and police may use their ‘dead’ names  
  • Worries that their experience won’t be taken seriously as it is different to heterosexual and cisgender experiences  
  • Fear of being excluded from their community or LGBT+ community particularly if the violence was from someone else in the LGBT+ community  
  • Concern of being ‘outed’ accidentally 
  • Concern that services or organisations they go to for support won’t be effective at supporting LGBT+ people 
  • Belief that this is a daily occurrence, nothing will change or they don’t want to make a fuss 

You might feel that it’s just something you have to put up with but you have a right to receive help and support and to report it if you want it. 

What should I do?  

  • Call 999 if you need immediate help 
  • Let the person know that what they are doing makes you uncomfortable and you want them to stop, if you feel safe to do so.
  • Keep a record of the incident/incidents including any evidence for example text messages or photos of injuries and the names of any witnesses.  
  • Talk to someone whether that’s joining an LGBT+ support group, talking you family or friends or to your manager or teacher.  
  • Report it – It is always your decision if you want to report any abuse or violence you have experienced and you can also report it anonymously through Galop.  


How can I support someone else? 

If you’ve witnessed abuse or violence directed towards LGBT+ people, it can be tempting to ignore it and not get involved. But there is always something you can do to support someone.  

  1. Call 999 if the person is in immediate danger. 
  2. Check that the person is okay.  
  3. If you feel safe to do so, let the person causing the harm know that what they did or said was wrong. For example, if someone said an inappropriate sexual comment to your colleague, a simple “I don’t think that’s appropriate” goes a long way.  
  4. Call your friends out for making comments or jokes aimed at an LGBT+ person or the community in general.
  5. Only take action if the person wants you to (unless they are in immediate danger or you’re concerned for their safety). They may be worried about the consequences, or they may not have come out yet and you taking this further could accidentally ‘out’ them. If you ask them and they do want to report it or talk to a manager/teacher you can offer your support as a witness.   
  6. Ask the person if there’s any way you can support them. 

Visit Galop’s website for more information about LGBT+ abuse and violence

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