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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