Statistics of Victimization in the LGBTQ Community

Minority groups have long been victims of persecution based on their ethnic background, religious beliefs, or cultural practices. Sexual minority individuals and those who identify as LGBTQ are also at increased risk for violence, harassment, and discrimination when compared to nonminority individuals. Despite the fact that these crimes are often well-publicized, the approximate rate of violence and discrimination suffered by LGBTQ is still unknown.

To get a better idea at what the prevalence of victimization is among this segment of the population Concetta P. Pelullo of the Department of Experimental Medicine at the Second University of Naples in Italy recently led a study involving 1,000 LGBTQ adults throughout Italy. The participants were recruited for one-on-one interviews and were asked about their experience with sexual and physical violence, discrimination, and verbal harassment. They were also asked to rate their level of fear relating to victimization.

Pelullo found that 28.3% of all participants had been victimized as a result of identifying as LGBTQ at some point in their lifetimes, and of those participants, 42.1% reported being victimized during the year prior to the study. Additionally, 11.9% of all participants had experienced victimization at least once in the previous year. The unmarried participants were more likely to experience discrimination, violence, or harassment compared to the married participants.

Similarly, those with lower levels of education were also at greater risk of victimization. Compared to the bisexual participants, lesbians were two times more likely to be victims. The types of victimization for all participants were listed in order of prevalence with verbal harassment being most common, followed by discrimination, physical violence, and sexual violence.

When the participants were asked to rate their level of fear related to these acts on a scale of 1 to 10, they reported levels between 5.7 and 6.4 for various types of discrimination and violence. Females were more fearful than men, and unmarried participants were more fearful than married participants. Further, those who had a history of victimization were more likely to have higher levels of fear when compared to participants with no history of victimization.

The findings presented here are startling, but essential for understanding the challenges LGBTQ individuals face. Pelulla added, “The study provides important insights into the violence experiences of lesbian, gay men, and bisexual women and men and the results may serve for improving policy initiatives to reduce such episodes.”

Pelullo, C.P., Di Giuseppe, G., Angelillo, I.F. (2013). Frequency of discrimination, harassment, and violence in lesbian, gay men, and bisexual in Italy. PLoS ONE 8(8): e74446. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0074446

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  • Mel

    September 27th, 2013 at 10:34 AM

    Quite stunning.
    The amount of violence that this community has had to endure over the years is terrible and the fact that they continue to have to live with it year after year? Just devastating to so many.
    I realize that there are a number of factors at play here with one of the largets being that there is generally a lack of understanding of the lifestyle.
    But since when does a lack of understanding mean that it is then okay to perpetuate violence against another person?
    This is not reasonable and honestly, it is unacceptable.

  • travis

    September 28th, 2013 at 4:22 AM

    What makes this even more dramatic is that you know that in so many cases crimes like these go unreported because those in this community feel so marginalized to begin with that they fear being further victimized at the hands of those who are supposed to be helping them.

    So rthare than facing ridicule and a different sort of attack, they will keep this kind of victimization to themselves and we may never know the true numbers of these kinds of crimes as a result of that.

  • Grayson

    September 28th, 2013 at 9:46 AM

    Not only are those who identify as LGBTQ faced with the dauting task of coming out and feeling like a minority in a straight world that in many cases does not accept their sexual orientation, they are also left to face the challenges of living in fear of being assaulted or attacked for their choices or for who they fall in love with. What kind of sense does this make that I have to live in fear of being harassed all because you don’t like who I am in a relationship with and why is it any of your business, especially to the point that you feel the need to beat me up? That makes no kind of sense to me at all. It’s fine if you want to have a logical disagreement about it, let’s be adults and talk about it. But to induce harm? That’s not cool.

  • phillip

    September 29th, 2013 at 8:50 AM

    My own brother was the victim of this sort of violence and it literally has torn the family apart. I don’t think that my dad actually realized how horrible this would be for my brother until he was attacked and then he saw the damage that was done. There is so much healing left to do for our family that sometimes i wonder if any of us will ever get thru it, especially my brother and my dad. They already had a pretty tense relationship when my brother came out, but now that my brother was attacked I think he sees himself as a victim all over again because I don’t think that my dad shows him the kind of support that a dad should show a son when he has been through something like this.

  • Lesley

    October 1st, 2013 at 3:58 AM

    If it is no longer acceptable to discriminate based on race, creed or color, then why to so many is it still acceptable to discriminate and hate based on sexual orientation?

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