This data comes from a recent YouGov survey which asked LGBTQIA people what opinions they thought the British public held about the community
BY PHOEBE IRIS, IMAGE BY TIM SAMUEL (PEXELS)
For many queer people across the Western world, things seem to be moving backwards. Progress towards equality that seemed assured is being undone by right-wing politicians, determined to strip LGBTQIA people of their rights to further their own agendas. Views that were once considered extreme, held by a minority composed of bigots and religious zealots, are now being written into law, leaving the queer community increasingly vulnerable.
Last year, the Council of Europe approved a report condemning the UK for its “extensive and often virulent” attacks on LGBTQIA rights, particularly the rights of the trans community.
It may seem surprising, then, that 54% of British gays and lesbians think that the general public has a positive view of them, according to a YouGov survey published last week.
A further 26% believe that the public feels neutral towards them. This is compared with 31% of bisexuals and 14% of transgender people** who believe the public views them positively.
The survey asked LGBTQIA people how they believe the British public feels about them (positive, neutral or negative), as well as how the LGBTQIA community feels about each other. It also investigated how the general public actually feels, and how they perceive the majority sentiment towards queer people in society.
Around half of the British public (54%) reported a positive attitude towards gay and lesbian, and bisexual people (50%), and 39% felt the same about transgender people. 33-39% have a neutral view of the groups presented.
Putting aside their own feelings, people felt that British attitudes towards LGBTQIA people tended to be more negative. While only 7% of people reported a negative view of gay and lesbian people, 21% of people believe that this is the predominant view in society (22% for bisexuals).
An overview of the data suggests that though people tend to view gay, bisexual and lesbian people in a similar way, they may feel differently about the transgender community.
In recent years, hostile attitudes towards trans people have been growing, stoked by politicians, the press and social media. However, 2022 data shows that most of the British public pays “not much attention” (42%) or “no attention” (24%) to issues surrounding transgender rights. Only 8% said they pay “a lot” of attention and 27% “a fair amount”.
Despite an apparent lack of interest, there has been a dramatic increase in articles on trans issues. For example, in January 2021, the Daily Mail wrote 28 articles related to transgender people. The following year, this increased to 51 articles. This past January, the Daily Mail published a whopping 115 articles relating to transgender people. Of the 115 articles published in January 2023, 87% could be categorised as negative. To put this in perspective, ten years ago (Jan 2013) the Mail wrote zero negative articles related to trans people.
Hate crimes in general have been steadily rising since 2013. It is unsurprising then, that alongside the media’s growing obsession with trans people, there has been an increase in hate crimes targeting the LGBTQIA community. Hate crimes against trans people increased by 56% between 2021-22.
This upwards trend of anti-trans sentiment is also apparent in YouGov’s survey with 25% of Britons reported feeling negatively about transgender people, a 9% increase since the last survey in 2021. Over half (51%) thought that the general public’s perception of trans people is negative, compared with 44% in 2021.
Furthermore, 8% of lesbian, gay and bisexual people also reported negative feelings towards trans people, although the large majority felt positive (75%) or neutral (17%). Cisgender lesbian and bisexual women were the most likely to be pro-trans with 88% feeling positive and of those 66-68% felt “very positive.”
This supports previous data which suggests that women are generally more likely to hold favourable opinions of transgender people than men.
On the whole, we can see that the public’s attitude towards LGBTQ+ people is more positive than one might expect, and a lot of people just aren’t invested at all. The data shows a Britain divided, but nowhere near to the extremes that politicians and the media would have us believe.
** “For the purposes of this survey, “transgender” was defined to respondents as “someone who identifies as a different gender to their sex at birth, including people who identify as being non-binary”.
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