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A. Human rights and recognition

Vision: we will strengthen equality and human rights

We will continue our support for LGBTQ+ people by defending and promoting their right to take a full and equal role in Welsh society. Research undertaken in preparing this Action Plan highlighted concerns from non-binary and intersex people over a lack of recognition both societally and in how they are reflected in the way services operate (Welsh Government 2021). In addition, Trans people in Wales told us they would like to see the Welsh Government go above and beyond the actions of the UK Government in protecting and furthering trans people’s rights. Research into British attitudes towards trans people by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) suggests that negative public attitudes towards trans people may be increasing overtime in certain areas of life, including accessing refuges for survivors of domestic violence (Morgan et al. 2020).

Conversion practices

There is particular concern around the continuing practice of ‘conversion practices’, sometimes known as ‘conversion therapy’. ‘Conversion practice’ is used as an umbrella term to describe harmful interventions of a wide-ranging nature, all of which are premised on the misconception that a person’s sexual orientation and gender, including gender identity, can be changed or suppressed. Such practices are therefore consistently aimed at effecting a change from non-heterosexual to heterosexual and/or from trans or gender diverse to cisgender. Depending on the context, the term is used for a multitude of practices and methods, some of which are clandestine and therefore poorly documented (Human Rights Council 2020).

As we seek to move to ban conversion practices for all LGBTQ+ people in Wales, it is important to understand the impact and prevalence that conversion practices have on LGBTQ+ communities (Welsh Government 2022d). The 2018 National LGBT survey found that 4.8% of cisgender LGBQ+ people in Wales were offered but did not undergo conversion practices (GEO 2018a), while 2.1% had undergone it. This was higher for trans populations, with 9.0% of respondents in Wales being offered but not undergoing conversion practices and an additional 5.6% having undergone it. The report found that for respondents in the UK who had undergone conversion practices, in more than half of cases, these had been conducted by faith organisations.

In 2020, Galop, a UK’s LGBTQ+ anti-abuse charity, surveyed UK LGBTQ+ survivors of sexual assault and found that 23.5% of respondents reported that the perpetrator ‘intended to convert’ or punish their LGBTQ+ identity (Galop 2022: p.3). This percentage was higher for asexual people (34.4%), non-binary people (31.9%), trans men (34.7%) and trans women (29.6%).

Conversion practices are not used in the NHS. NHS Wales signed the Memorandum of Understanding on Banning Conversion Practices (BACP 2022), which is an agreement by organisations working in the provision of mental or psychological health delivery or commissioning, to seek to ensure they do not commission or provide conversion therapy.

We want every LGBTQ+ person to be treated with equal value, to be safe and to live authentically and openly as themselves, which is why the Programme for Government, and the Co-operation Agreement with Plaid Cymru, highlight that we will ban all aspects of LGBTQ+ conversion practices that are within our current powers and seek the devolution of any necessary additional powers to enable us to achieve this. In addition, we will seek the devolution of powers in relation to Gender Recognition and support our Trans community.

The consultation responses overwhelmingly stated that conversion practices that try and force people to change their sexual orientation or gender should be stopped. A clear definition of conversion practices was needed to make sure that legitimate discussions and support about an individual’s feelings about their sexual orientation or gender would not be included in any ban. A dedicated Working Group on Banning Conversion Practices has been established by Welsh Government and will provide advice and guidance to Welsh Government on this work which will be led by Social Justice, Social Partnership, and the Equality and Human Rights Division.

Our actions

  1. Strengthen understanding of the human rights of LGBTQ+ people.
  2. Improve LGBTQ+ people’s understanding of how to assert their human rights.
  3. Ban all aspects of LGBTQ+ Conversion Practices.
  4. Strengthen LGBTQ+ representation on equality forums.
  5. Involve LGBTQ+ communities in designing public services.
  6. Provide recognition of non-binary and intersex people.
  7. Seek the devolution of powers in relation to Gender Recognition.
  8. International engagement showcases our LGBTQ+ values and support in Wales and globally.

B. Safety and freedom from discrimination

Vision: we will make Wales a safer place for all LGBTQ+ people

Feeling safer in Wales will allow LGBTQ+ people to thrive and live free from fear, in their personal life and in society. Many LGBTQ+ people in Wales continue to feel unsafe and at a high risk of abuse or discrimination (Stonewall Cymru 2017a), and therefore it is vital that action is taken to address this and seek to improve the safety LGBTQ+ people in Wales.

The National Hate Crime Statistics for England and Wales 2021 to 2022 were published by the Home Office in October 2022. The statistics show a 35% increase in recorded hate crimes across Wales compared to 2020 to 2021 (Welsh Government 2022e; Home Office 2022a). There were 6,295 recorded hate crimes across the 4 Welsh Police Force Areas of which:

  • 1,329 (21%) were sexual orientation hate crimes
  • 247 (4%) were transgender hate crimes

For the year April 2021 to March 2022, police recorded sexual orientation hate crimes in Wales increased by 50% on the previous year (from 884 to 1,329) and hate crimes against transgender people (i.e., transgender hate crimes) rose by 43% (from 173 to 247 incidents) (Home Office 2021a; Home Office 2022a; Home Office 2021b: Appendix Table; Home Office 2022b: Appendix Table).

Hate crimes may have multiple motivating factors, and the above statistics represent those crimes for which sexual orientation or gender identity were included in the recorded motivating factors.

According to the “Is Wales Fairer?” report (EHRC 2018b: p.94; also see Stonewall Cymru 2017a), evidence from the voluntary sector suggests that these increases in recorded crime may also reflect an increase in incidents: in 2017, 20% of lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) people in Wales had been a victim of hate crime or incident in the previous 12 months, compared with 11% in 2013; half (52%) of trans people reported that they had been a victim of a hate crime or incident in 2017. This is a concern, but we also know that this is the tip of the iceberg, and many more hate crimes go unreported. The report also mentioned that the majority of LGB and trans people who had experienced a hate crime or incident (82%) did not report it to the police. The same report also mentioned that lesbian, gay and bisexual people were more than twice as likely than the wider population to be survivors or victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence in 2016 to 2017. Most recognised studies indicate up to 40% of the LGBTQ+ population will experience domestic abuse in some form during their lives, this rises to approx. 80% for the trans community (Welsh Government 2022f).

Evidence shows that ethnic minority LGBTQ+ people are at a greater risk of discrimination. The Home and Communities report (Stonewall 2018a) indicated that in Britain, 11% of LGBTQ+ respondents experienced domestic abuse from their partner. This increased to 17% for ethnic minority LGBTQ+ respondents. Additionally, 51% of ethnic minority respondents reported experiencing discrimination because of their ethnicity from within their local LGBTQ+ communities within the year prior, for Black people this increases again to 61%.

Although the majority of LGBTQ+ people in Wales do live fulfilling and positive lives, we also know that too many live in fear of discrimination and prejudice, and people in Wales continue to face discrimination at home and in their respective communities. Nearly half (46%) of respondents to Stonewell Cymru’s 2020 survey which informed the Expert Panel report (Welsh Government 2021c; Welsh Government 2021d), stated they had been subjected to verbal harassment in the year prior, while 26% had suffered online abuse or harassment and 13% experienced the threat of physical or sexual harassment and violence in the same period. These findings show how much more must be done to make homes and communities in Wales safe for all.

Evidence also suggests that LGBTQ+ people are particularly at risk of homelessness (Llamau 2019), with UK-wide data suggesting that LGBTQ+ young people are grossly over-represented within youth homelessness populations (Albert Kennedy Trust 2015). In the UK, research from the Albert Kennedy Trust found that LGBT young people were more likely to find themselves homeless, than heterosexual and cisgender youth, reporting LGBT young people make up 24% of the homeless population. However, there is still significant gap in dataset for Wales on youth homelessness and their characteristics, and responses to the consultation also suggested that there is still a perception of risks concerning discrimination in the private rental sector.  

We know that many services that provide care for people surviving violence or abuse already have provision in their service design to be inclusive of LGBTQ+ people, including the needs of lesbian and trans women. It is important that these services continue, and that the needs of LGBTQ+ people reporting and receiving care after surviving violence and/or abuse are acknowledged and taken into account. We also look forward to working with criminal justice partners, in the hope that we will be able to effectively tackle inequality and to create an LGBTQ+ inclusive criminal justice system.

The Minister for Social Justice Jane Hutt MS wrote to the UK Government to ask to accept the recommendation that the aggravated offences which currently exist for race and religion should be extended to all other existing characteristics within the hate crime legislative regime, including sexual orientation and transgender identity. This would send out a clear message that hate crime motivated by sexual orientation, transgender identity is unacceptable and there are consequences for those perpetrating these hateful actions. We will keep advocating for LGBTQ+ hate crime to be made an aggravated offence, and will also seek to take forward our Programme for Government commitment to pursue the case for devolution of policing and justice.

Our actions

  1. Remove barriers to LGBTQ+ people reporting hate crime.
  2. Continue to invest in hate crime prevention programmes across Wales.
  3. Counter online anti-LGBTQ+ attitudes and hate crimes.
  4. Improve the relationship of LGBTQ+ communities with Policing in Wales.
  5. Target violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence (VAWDASV) among LGBTQ+ communities.
  6. Homelessness services are inclusive of the specific needs of LGBTQ+ people.

C. A Nation of Sanctuary for asylum seekers and refugees

Vision: we will make Wales a Nation of Sanctuary for LGBTQ+ migrants

We are aiming for Wales to become the world’s first ‘Nation of Sanctuary’, celebrating Welsh hospitality and our history of migration and safety. The ambition is wherever in Wales people seeking sanctuary go, they are met with welcome, understanding and celebration of their unique contribution to the rich tapestry of life in Wales.

We believe the UK Government agreement with the Government of Rwanda to process asylum claims is devastating for LGBTQ+ refugees and asylum seekers, placing LGBTQ+ people at great risk of ill treatment, discrimination, arbitrary arrest, and detention. In the UK Government Equality Impact Assessment for the policy, the real risks that this agreement would pose for LGBTQ+ people was highlighted (Home Office 2022c). Our Nation of Sanctuary vision and plan is about making Wales not just welcoming to migrants, but also harnessing the opportunities which migration brings to help our economy and communities to thrive. The plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda is the opposite of that vision.

Many asylum seekers flee their own country because of being persecuted for who they are and for who they love, escaping violence and abuse due to their sexual orientation or gender identity (Mole 2021; Dyck 2019). Therefore, 1 of our actions concentrates on the importance of working with UK Government to improve sensitive identification of LGBTQ+ people, their safeguarding, and signposting measures including through improvements of tools such as the Asylum Support Application Form (ASF1 form).

We are committed to work in collaboration with local authorities and key partners to ensure that housing provisions for LGBTQ+ asylum seekers (Glitter Cymru and DPIA 2022) and refugees meet their needs.

Our actions

  1. Identify, safeguard and signpost LGBTQ+ people in claiming asylum.
  2. Encourage the development of LGBTQ+ only asylum properties in Wales.
  3. Ensure Wales a Nation of Sanctuary remains inclusive of LGBTQ+ people.

D. Healthcare, social care, and welfare

Vision: we will improve healthcare outcomes for all LGBTQ+ people

Within healthcare settings LGBTQ+ people feel that they may face unequal treatment and discrimination. Examples of these inequalities are highlighted in the LGBT Health report (Stonewall 2018b). For example, the report states almost one in four LGBTQ+ people (23%) have at one time witnessed discriminatory or negative remarks against LGBTQ+ people by healthcare staff. Moreover, 14% of respondents avoided healthcare treatment due to concerns that they would experience discrimination because of their LGBTQ+ identity.

Research has also indicated that some LGBTQ+ people do not disclose their gender or sexual orientation to healthcare services. The National LGBT survey reported that in the 12 months that preceded the survey, of their Welsh sample, 50% of LGBQ+ cisgender people stated they had never shared their sexual orientation with healthcare staff (GEO 2018b). Moreover, 19.6% of Welsh trans respondents reported in the National LGBT Survey that their specific needs were disregarded when using or attempting to use healthcare services.

Research undertaken in England (NatCen Social Research et al. 2021) indicated that LGB people were more likely to be current smokers compared to heterosexual adults (27% and 18% respectively). Similar patterns were recorded for the prevalence of drinking alcohol ‘to an increased risk or higher risk’ (32% for LGB adults compared to 24% of heterosexuals).

Previous reports show that LGBTQ+ disabled people continue to face discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity from those providing personal care (SSCR 2017). Research on the experiences of LGBTQ+ people in social care settings has shown it is often noted that the needs of older people are not always met (PolicyBristol 2017; Hafford‐Letchfield et al 2018).

Westwood’s (2018) commentary on the abuse facing older LGBT people concluded that they are vulnerable to abuse at an organisational level as well as an interpersonal level. Westwood highlights that despite facing abuse based on their gender or sexual orientation, older LGBT people are less likely to report this due to the social marginalisation they may experience living as an older LGBT person.

Each of these findings display that work must be done to ensure that LGBTQ+ people in Wales are safe and confident in accessing the health and social care system. There are also several areas where LGBTQ+ people are disproportionately affected, such as depression and substance use (Stonewall 2018b; Pitman et al 2021).

Data from the National Survey for Wales (Welsh Government 2021f) between 2019 to 2020 indicated that LGBTQ+ people were twice as likely to report feeling lonely (30%) compared to their heterosexual counterparts (15%). According to the report “Is Wales Fairer?” (EHRC 2018b: p.102), loneliness, isolation and a reduced sense of belonging are some of the most significant issues facing particular groups, including lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people, and people from some ethnic minorities.

We must take action to better understand and mitigate for these disproportionalities, especially for transgender and non-binary people. Being transgender should be celebrated as a valued and important part of families, communities, and societies (AusPATH 2021; World Health Organisation 2018). Delaying or preventing a person from having their identity respected can have a negative impact on their lives (Ashley 2019). Research has shown the harms of delayed transition, with UK based research demonstrating the challenges, frustration, and trauma of trans people, including young people, who have experienced rejection and delay. There is evidence that indicates the positive impact of pre-pubertal social transition (Durwood et al. 2021; Horton 2022). Research on socially transitioned trans children has shown positive mental health and well-being outcomes (Durwood et al., 2017; Olson et al. 2016). These findings also reinforce retrospective research on the negative mental health toll of childhood rejection, drawn from research with trans adults and trans youth (Katz-Wise et al. 2018 Klein and Golub 2016; Pollitt et al. 2021; Russell et al. 2018; Simons et al. 2013; Travers et al. 2012; Wallace and Russell 2013).

Although Wales has in place its own gender service, this only caters to adults. In simple words: there are no gender services for transgender children and young people in Wales. Therefore, they are often signposted to services in England. A Gender identity services Inspection report (Care Quality Commission 2019) has found that Gender Services for young people are still inadequate in England, saying that, “The service was difficult to access. There were over 4600 young people on the waiting list. Young people waited over 2 years for their first appointment”. The cited research is among the many reasons that encourage us to do more and to continue to develop our gender services for adults in Wales, and to consider options for the development of a gender service for young people in Wales. This will include an evidence-driven approach and engagement with young people, service users, and stakeholders.

In line with Action 18, Activity 18.4 of this Plan, our ambition is that the overall health outcomes and experiences of trans and non-binary people will be considered at all stages of gender reassignment. This includes, for instance, cancer screening and sexual health provisions.

Our actions

  1. Understand and improve the experience of LGBTQ+ people in the health and social care sectors.
  2. Ensure maternity and fertility services are accessible and straightforward to use for LGBTQ+ people.
  3. Ensure the development of the new mental health strategy takes account of LGBTQ+ people.
  4. Publish and act on a new HIV Action Plan.
  5. Overcome barriers to LGBTQ+ people accessing sexual health services.
  6. Review the Gender Identity Development pathway for young people in Wales.
  7. Continue to develop the Wales Gender Service.
  8. Improve the data recording and change processes for maintaining trans, non-binary and intersex people’s medical records.

E. Inclusive education

Vision: we will provide LGBTQ+ inclusive education across Wales

In 2017, Welsh Government’s Expert Sex and Relationships Education panel drew on a wide range of national and international research (Renold and McGeeney 2017a; 2017b), one of the key findings of the panel was that there was a gap between children and young people’s lived experiences of relationships and sexuality and the content of Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) provision.

Research undertaken in the School Report Cymru (Stonewall Cymru 2017b) states that 58% of Welsh LGBT students have not been taught LGBT matters, 84% had never been educated on bisexuality and 87% had never been educated on transgender people and other genders. There have however been recent changes. With the roll out of the Curriculum for Wales in September 2022 developmentally appropriate Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) became mandatory for all learners. The RSE Code aims to ensure that ‘all learners can see themselves, their families, their communities and each other reflected across the curriculum and can learn to value difference and diversity as a source of strength’ (Welsh Government Hwb 2022).

Schools and settings have an important role to play in creating safe and empowering environments in supporting learners’ rights to enjoy fulfilling, healthy and safe relationships throughout their lives. We are enabling more inclusive education, by committing to provide national guidance for schools by Summer 2023 to help schools fully support transgender pupils.

Findings from a UK-wide survey by Just Like Us (Milsom 2021) reported that only 58% of LGBT+ students described feeling safe on a daily basis at school in the 12 months prior, compared to a higher figure of 73% for non-LGBT+ students. In addition, 43% of LGBT+ students reported being bullied, compared to 21% of non-LGBT students.

The School Report Cymru (Stonewall 2017a) stated that of Welsh students aged 11 to 19 years, 54% of LGBT students including 73% of trans students experienced bulling at school about their sexual orientation or gender. Moreover, the report indicated that 60% of respondents ‘frequently’ or ‘often’ heard homophobic language in school, while 49% reported having heard biphobic language and 51% reported hearing transphobic language.

According to “Is Wales Fairer?” report (EHRC 2018: p.25), those with special needs or a disability, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender pupils, and those from an ethnic minority or religious background are at particular risk of being bullied; cyberbullying is also on the rise (Estyn 2014).

Schools are places where learners should feel safe and ready to learn. Any form of bullying or sexual harassment is completely unacceptable.

We want to see an end to all forms of bullying. Our commitment to tackle this issue aims to ensure that LGBTQ+ young people understand how to get support and gain the confidence to challenge bullying, harassment, and discrimination.  

Our actions

  1. Provide national trans guidance for schools and local authorities.
  2. Support LGBTQ+ young people and tackle homophobic, biphobic, and transphobic bullying.
  3. Design and implement a whole school approach that is fully LGBTQ+ inclusive.
  4. Ensure that all colleges and universities in Wales are LGBTQ+ inclusive environments for learners, students, and staff.

F. Communities, private and family life

Vision: we will improve inclusion and participation for LGBTQ+ people in all areas of life

Wales is made up of diverse communities, languages, identities and cultures. All people, whatever their identity or wherever they live, should be able to feel a sense of belonging both to their community and to Wales. From rural and urban communities to communities of faith, culture and the arts.

According to the National Survey for Wales (2021f), in 2018 to 2019, 72.4% of adults in Wales agreed they felt they belonged to their local area. However, people identifying as gay, lesbian, or bisexual (63.2%) were less likely to agree than those identifying as heterosexual/straight (72.6%). For instance, gay, lesbian and bisexual and transgender people in Wales were found still experiencing poor treatment while going about their lives. Supporting young people and families will be a key part of improving inclusion and participation for LGBTQ+ people. Addressing regional inequalities, particularly in rural Wales, and in areas where Welsh is the primary language will help all LGBTQ+ people feel a sense of belonging. We recognise the impact events such as the National Eisteddfod for Wales and their Mas ar y Maes partnership, and others, have had. Our ambition is to ensure the needs of Welsh language speakers are met in the representation of LGBTQ+ culture.

More research is needed to understand rural and regional issues in Wales faced by LGBTQ+ people.

We have already begun providing funding to local Pride events and will be continuing to support local Prides. We recognise the particular importance that these events can have in creating a feeling of inclusion and community.

A recent “Call for Evidence” was launched to share views on the treatment of veterans affected by the pre-2000 ban on homosexuality in the armed forces (LGBT Veterans Independent Review 2022). The review will consider the experiences of LGBTQ+ veterans and their families prior to the ban and the impact this had on their lives. The ‘Call for Evidence’ closed on 1 December 2022 and the full results will not be known for some time. However, some of the actions and activities in this Plan seek to address some of these issues and concerns. Officials will review the results of the Call for Evidence when available and consider whether any further action is needed as a result. By way of background, prior to 2000, homosexual acts were considered an offence if found guilty under the Army Act 1955, the Air Force Act 1955, and the Naval Discipline Act 1957. Section 1(1) of the Sexual Offences Act 1967 (amendment of law relating to homosexual acts in private) decriminalised homosexual acts between adults in private and was repealed by the Sexual Offences Act 2003 sections 139, 140, Schedule 6, paragraph 15(a), Schedule 1, wef 1 May 2004.

Our actions

  1. Support the family lives of LGBTQ+ people.
  2. Support the LGBTQ+ youth work sector.
  3. Support open dialogue between faith groups and LGBTQ+ people.
  4. Ensure that LGBTQ+ Welsh speakers have access to Welsh medium support services.
  5. Provide support for LGBTQ+ people to participate in democracy, including standing for elected positions.
  6. Support Pride organisations across Wales.
  7. Use LGBTQ+ awareness events to amplify LGBTQ+ voices.
  8. Support LGBTQ+ veterans of the Armed Services.

G. Participation in Welsh life: culture and sport

Vision: we will improve inclusion and participation for LGBTQ+ people in all areas of life

Welsh LGBTQ+ history, culture, and heritage in Wales has contributed to our legacy and experiences as a nation and these stories need to be told. Over the past decade, the showcasing of sexual orientations and gender, including gender identity and expression, in history, literature and heritage has greatly increased, as proven by the effort of National Museum Wales and Queer Britain to showcase and archive LGBTQ+ stories and experiences. However, there is still an overall lack of familiarity, knowledge and engagement with the subject (Welsh Government 2021g).

We are also aware that Wales has some of the best creative talent in the world. Through Creative Wales, we want to champion an environment where talent from all communities, including LGBTQ+ communities, can be nurtured through skills development and creative industries can continue to grow. Therefore, we recommend reading this Action Plan along the Priorities for the Creative Industries Sector in Wales (Welsh Government 2020d) and the new 3 year Creative Skills Action Plan (2022 to  2025) which is aligned to the Programme for Government commitment to establish a Creative Skills Body (Welsh Government 2022g).

Sport is also an important element of life in Wales. In recent times, various international and domestic sporting bodies have announced policies which are not fully inclusive of trans people, particularly transgender women. A blanket exclusion of transgender and non-binary people risks sending a wrong message to trans young people that they cannot have the same opportunities as their friends and other children, and to all young people that they must present a certain way to be respected for who they are, which has broader implications.

Sport is wide-ranging, and a uniform approach to a very complex issue is challenging. There is clearly widespread support for ensuring that sport is welcoming to all, including transgender people. Our position concerning inclusion in sport is clear: LGBTQ+ rights, including trans rights, are human rights and as the First Minister Mark Drakeford said, our starting point is that transgender women are women (Senedd Cymru 2022b). Sport should be for everyone, a place where everyone can take part and where everyone is treated with kindness, dignity, and respect. We must work hard to look for opportunities for dialogue, to find ways of promoting understanding rather than conflict, and to demonstrate respect rather than to look for exclusion.

Our actions

  1. Improve the representation, inclusion, and participation of LGBTQ+ people in sports.
  2. Improve the access and participation of transgender people in sport.
  3. Celebrate and improve the representation of LGBTQ+ communities in the heritage and culture of Wales.
  4. Increase the involvement of LGBTQ+ people and organisations in the design of cultural events and activities.

H. Inclusive workplaces

Vision: we will improve inclusion and participation for LGBTQ+ people in all areas of life

Although organisations are increasingly taking pride in their commitment to LGBTQ+ staff, customers and service users, discrimination in the workplace remains widespread. The National LGBT survey reported that 22.4% of Welsh respondents experienced adverse reactions at work because of their gender or sexual orientation or being perceived as LGBT (GEO 2017). 11.1% also reported receiving ‘inappropriate’ comments or conduct, and 9.3% reported verbal harassment. 2019 to 2020 data from the National Survey for Wales (Welsh Government 2021f) reported that 19% of lesbian, gay and bisexual people had experienced bullying at work in the year prior to undertaking the survey. This compares to 11% of heterosexual people. Moreover, 20% of lesbian, gay and bisexual people reported having experienced discrimination within their workplace in the last 12 months, compared to 10% of heterosexual people.

The Work report (Stonewall 2018c) showed that more than a third of LGBT staff (35%) hid the fact they were LGBT at work for fear of discrimination; one in ten Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic LGBT employees (10%) had been physically attacked by customers or colleagues in the year prior; and nearly 2 in 5 bi people (38%) weren’t out to anyone at work.

The prominence of glass ceilings in the workplace for gay and lesbian managers remains a phenomenon observed within the UK (Frank 2006; Aksoy et al. 2019). Recent and historical research suggests that “sexual minorities” are less likely to be in a higher managerial position compared to their heterosexual counterparts and suggests that it is due to differential returns received by gay and lesbian managers compared to heterosexual counterparts for their education and additional skills.

A survey and focus groups undertaken in the development of this action plan (Welsh Government 2021c), found that whilst 45% of people reported that those in the workplace reacted only positively when aware they were LGBTQ+, 24% reported un-permissible exposure of their LGBTQ+ identity in the workplace (or ‘outing’) and 10% recounted experiencing verbal harassment. This needs to change; happiness in the workplace is important. It improves the health of workers, leads to better working relationships, and can boost creativity and productivity. Workplaces in Wales have improved, yet we need to go further to eradicate discrimination and empower all those in employment to be themselves as well as championing the positive impact diversity can have in all types of organisations.

Our actions

  1. Remove unnecessary personal identifications from recruitment practices.
  2. Provide equalities training that includes the needs of LGBTQ+ people to all public sector organisations.
  3. Encourage private sector employers to be LGBTQ+ inclusive.

I. Impact of COVID-19

Anecdotal evidence suggests a disproportionate impact from COVID-19 among LGBTQ+ communities in Wales. More widely in the UK, online surveys have indicated inequalities experienced by LGBTQ+ people throughout COVID-19. For example, LGBT Hero’s LGBTQ+ Lockdown Wellbeing (2020) report highlights that LGBTQ+ people reported high rates of experience of violence and abuse during lockdown. This was reported particularly by younger people, but also by trans and gender diverse people who reported twice as much violence and abuse during lockdown than cisgender people. The report indicates that of their LGBTQ+ sample, 15% reported experiencing violence or abuse throughout lockdown. This figure was more than twice as high for Black and South Asian LGBTQ+ people compared to their white counterparts. Additionally, the report indicated that 79% of their UK sample reported that their mental health was negatively impacted by COVID-19 lockdown.

An LGBT Foundation report (2020) highlights that 30% of UK LGBT respondents were living alone during the pandemic, older LGBT people are more likely to have been living alone throughout the pandemic with 40% of 50+ years old reporting this. Moreover, the report indicated that 8% of respondents did not feel safe in their living arrangements when surveyed during lockdown. This is not equally experienced across LGBTQ+ communities as for ethnic minority LGBT people the proportion was 9%%, 15% for LGBT disabled people, 17% for trans people and 17% for non-binary people.

It is vital to collect and understand data first, to fully appreciate these impacts in order to identify and prioritise actions to reduce the current and future impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and potential future pandemics on LGBTQ+ communities living in Wales.

Our actions

  1. In planning and implementing a recovery response to COVID-19, to consider the experiences of LGBTQ+ people, particularly on mental health.
  2. Undertake a thorough investigation into how LGBTQ+ people, particularly LGBTQ+ young people and LGBTQ+ disabled people, in Wales have been impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic.