A new UK-wide study has shed light on the prejudice and problems bisexual people can face when accessing mainstream services, with almost half of bi people reporting that they've experience biphobic comments.
The 'Complicated?' report by the Equality Network found that biphobia was most commonly experienced within the NHS and LGBT-targeted services themselves, reports The Scotsman
As well as finding that almost a third (28%) of those surveyed said they never feel comfortable telling their GP they are bisexual, found that almost four in 10 (38%) bisexual people have experienced sexual harassment, often centred on negative stereotypes which falsely label bisexual people as promiscuous.
The survey of 515 bisexual people across the UK is said to be the country's first research report on bisexual people’s experience of services.
Tim Hopkins, director of the Equality Network, said: “Unfortunately, as the report findings show, bisexual people are often misunderstood and discriminated against by many services.
“This leaves them at high risk of not getting appropriate information and support. We hope that this report will help services to better understand and assist bisexual people.”
Respondents also recounted their experiences of biphobia in the NHS, with one stating: “I’ve experienced serious homophobia and biphobia from NHS services, including a GP who made a remark about ‘revolting faggots’ and a psychotherapist who told me that because I’m bisexual, it was my fault I’d been raped.”
The study found that two-thirds (66%) of respondents felt they had to pass as straight and 42% felt they needed to pass as gay or lesbian when using services.
Worryingly, a quarter of bisexual people surveyed had experienced prejudice when accessing LGBT-specific services.
One person reported they had “heard lots of negative comments about bisexual people and dismissal of the need to include bisexual people”, while another reported being told that “bisexuals are ‘confused’ and not as good as ‘real gays’”.
To tackle the issues raised in the report, the Equality Network is urging organisations to deal with biphobia, research bisexuality, and ensure that any training they provide on sexual orientation explicitly includes bisexual equality in detail.
Sam Rankin, the lead author of the report, said: “When explaining why bisexual equality is important and how people are discriminated against it is vital that we have robust data and real life examples to illustrate our points.
“Now that we have these we, and others, will be better able to take more effective steps in providing appropriate, inclusive services.”
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