Respect most common feeling towards LGBT people: 'This reminds us how far we've come'

·Lifestyle Writer, Yahoo Life UK
·6-min read
LGBT Pride parade flags (Getty Images)
Respect and admiration most common feelings UK public has towards LGBT people. (Getty Images)

The British public is now far more likely to hold positive feelings towards lesbian, gay, bi and trans people than they are negative, new research published by Stonewall, the world's second-largest LGBTQ+ organisation, highlights.

The most common feeling towards LGBT people is now one of respect, with more than a third of respondents choosing this option, the survey of more than 2,000 adults across the nation finds.

Marking the 50th anniversary of the first Pride march in the UK, the charity's report says its findings "paint a picture of growing acceptance" in a society beginning to truly take pride in LGBTQ+ people as neighbours, colleagues, friends and family.

However, it addresses the work that still needs to be done to combat remaining attitudes that were "all too common when we first marched for our rights".

Campaigners such as author Damian Barr highlight that "acceptance" isn't enough, the LGBTQ+ community needs "full equality" too.

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Celebrities help to hold a banner opposing Section 28, at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride event, London, 4th July 1998. Those present include (from second left) actor Michael Cashman, comedian Rhona Cameron and activist Peter Tatchell. First and second from right are musician and radio presenter Tom Robinson, and comedian and TV presenter Graham Norton. Section 28 was an amendment to the Local Government Act 1988, passed by the British parliament the previous May and forbidding the 'promotion' of homosexuality by local authorities. It was repealed in 2003. (Photo by Steve Eason/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Celebrities including Michael Cashman, Rhona Cameron Peter Tatchell, Tom Robinson and Graham Norton hold a banner opposing Section 28, at a Pride event in 1998. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Worryingly, people were more likely to say they felt respect for lesbian and gay people (38% and 37% respectively) than for bi or trans people (32% and 31%).

More than one in five also said they have admiration for trans people (21%), which the report points out "perhaps reflects public acknowledgement of the challenges faced by trans people living in the UK today," with 19% saying the same for both lesbian and gay people.

This falls to 16% who said they admire bi people, which "may be related to biphobic stereotypes".

Nancy Kelley, CEO of Stonewall (she/her). (Stonewall)
'Nobody should have to grow up and go through life worrying that the people around them feel disgusted by who they are', says Stonewall's CEO Nancy Kelley. (Stonewall)

"Over the last 50 years, every battle for the rights of LGBTQ+ communities has been fought in the court of public opinion as well as in the corridors of power. This data reminds us to celebrate how far we’ve come, as well as to focus on how far there is to go," says Nancy Kelley, CEO of Stonewall (she/her).

Fewer than one in 10 people today said they feel 'disgust' towards LGBT people (9% for gay people, 8% for trans and bi people, and just 7% towards lesbians).

Feelings of 'resentment', 'fear' and 'envy' were rarer, and in no instance did any of the four different LGBTQ+ groups elicit this response from more than 4% of the respondents.

The survey was conducted in December 2021 and asked people separately about each of the communities, and allowed respondents to tick as many options as they wanted.

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Intersex Progress Pride flags outside a pub in on 22nd January 2022 in London, United Kingdom. The flag includes stripes to represent LGBTQ+ communities, with colors from the Transgender Pride Flag, alongside the and circle of the Intersex flag. (photo by Mike Kemp/In Pictures via Getty Images)
The Progress Pride flag now recognises LGBTQ+ communities, as well as people of colour and the intersex community. (Getty Images)

While homo/bi/transphobia is now "restricted to a small, noisy minority", the report also doesn't disregard the profound impact of these negative feelings. The number of people who identify as lesbian, gay, bi or trans is still outnumbered in certain instances by those who hold such views, it points out.

"Nobody should have to grow up and go through life worrying that the people around them feel disgusted by who they are," emphasises Kelley. "From the fight to decriminalise men who have sex with men, to the fight for trans people’s rights to be protected and respected, we’ve always relied on allies to stand alongside us.

"That’s why, as we enter Pride Month, we need people to do more than wear a rainbow pin – we need everyone to show they take pride in our community, by stepping up and fighting for a more equal world."

Read more: Number of people who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual has doubled

Two married women
The Stonewall report represents the growing respect in a society beginning to truly take pride in LGBTQ+ people as neighbours, colleagues, friends and family. (Getty Images)

The data also shows that the public feelings towards lesbian, gay, bi and trans people are noticeably consistent across the board, with the attitudes held by an individual about one group likely to be predictive of what they think about the others.

The report, delivered by Opinium, unearths that women and younger people are more likely to be pro-LGBT than men or older people, reflecting wider societal trends and suggesting pro-LGBT attitudes are increasing over time.

Despite the "drumbeat of anti-trans propaganda", the research highlights that women are nearly eight times more likely to actively respect trans people (35%) than they are to fear them (4%).

LGBTI+ protesters hold Progress Pride flags as the first-ever Reclaim Pride march arrives in Hyde Park for a Queer Picnic on 24th July 2021 in London, United Kingdom. Reclaim Pride replaced the traditional Pride in London march, which many feel has become too commercial and strayed from its roots in protest, and was billed as a Peoples Pride march for LGBTI+ liberation. Campaigners called for the banning of LGBTI+ conversion therapy, the reform of the Gender Recognition Act, the provision of a safe haven for LGBTI+ refugees and for LGBTI+ people to be decriminalised worldwide and marched in solidarity with Black Lives Matter. (photo by Mark Kerrison/In Pictures via Getty Images)
Campaigners calling for the banning of conversion therapy. (Getty Images)

"This research provides an invaluable snapshot of the UK today; a country whose public takes pride in holding inclusive values, and increasingly embraces its LGBTQ+ population," says Sasha Misra, Associate Director of Communications & Campaigns at Stonewall (she/her).

"For many of us, this picture will resonate with our day-to-day experience in society. Yet it sits in stark contrast with that painted by our right-wing media and politicians, which position LGBTQ+ people, and specifically trans people, as a constant threat that is to be feared.

"Reliable data consistently shows that this is a minority, extreme position, and doesn’t reflect the will of the people."

Despite public attitudes being largely positive, Misra also addresses the negative views still held, the effect this can have, and what action can be taken going forward.

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Take Pride. (Stonewall)
Take Pride. (Stonewall)

"While it is disappointing to know that around one in ten people view you with 'disgust', we should reflect on the incredible progress we have seen in society since the late 1980s [Stonewall was founded in 1989 by a small group of people], when two-thirds of the country felt a same-sex relationship was 'always wrong'," she says.

"Nonetheless, it is important to recognise that even a small, intolerant minority can have a significant negative impact on the safety and wellbeing of LGBTQ+ people. This data tells us that work to counter negative feelings towards our communities should focus on building respect among men and older generations, where these views are more common."

The report also acknowledges that a significant percentage of the population didn't identify with any of the feelings presented to them, and that there is work to do to move this segment of the public on from a more neutral position to one of active support.

To find out how you can 'Take Pride' and stand up for LGBTQ+ visit the Stonewall website.

For general information and support, you can contact the charity on 0800 0502020, with lines open 9.30 - 4.30 Monday to Friday.

If you need someone to talk to, you can also call Samaritans any time on 116 123.