DIVA Publisher Linda Riley "shocked" at LGBT Action Plan omissions

Concern over lesbian and bi visibility as the wide-ranging report fails to break down responses by gender




As reported in DIVA earlier, the government has formulated a 75 point LGBT Action Plan in response to a huge national survey of 108,000 LGBT people. This is by far the largest national survey of its kind anywhere in the world, and the government should be congratulated for undertaking what must have been a mammoth task.


Since it's publication, much has been written and broadcast and, it has to be said, some very disturbing statistics about hate crime and the continued use – most often by religious groups – of gay "cure" therapy. 


I am, however, shocked that such a detailed and, it has to be said, well-meaning endeavour has been undermined by the failure to break down the 61% of respondents who identified as either gay or lesbian into gender, and similarly with the 26% who identified as bisexual.


This means that it is impossible to extrapolate anything from the survey which is specific to lesbians and bisexual women. 



More and more lesbians are becoming mothers, giving rise to issues in the workplace and at the school gates. I know this – I am a mother myself. And talking of the workplace, lesbians and bisexual women have (at least) two glass ceilings with which to contend – a combination of sexism and homophobia which simply does not happen to men.


And while the survey correctly drew attention to the sort of harassment experienced by those who identify as LGBT, by not breaking down respondents by sex, it fails to acknowledge the sort of sexual harassment (which, at worst, can result in "corrective rape") which is specific to women.


Women of all sexualities are far more likely to experience domestic violence than their male counterparts, and bisexual women – in different ways to bisexual men – face their own, specific, and often sexualised biphobia. None of this has been addressed.


As the publisher of DIVA, a magazine which takes its social responsibility extremely seriously, I was hoping that the survey would help inform me and our editorial team about where our campaigning and activism should be focused. Of course, we speak to our readers and have a pretty good idea of some of the problems they face, but the opportunity to be able to leverage the results of a survey of more than 100,000 people would have been too good to miss.


DIVA has always campaigned for more lesbian visibility. The voices of lesbians and bisexual women have been marginalised for so long – airbrushed from history and, when referenced, frequently lumped in with gay men.


This survey, while of some value, not only fails to address the issue of lesbian visibility it – albeit unintentionally – compounds the problem in its failures to acknowledge the unique life experiences of lesbians and bisexual women.


So my challenge to the government is this: I applaud the fact that you have undertaken this huge project, and am particularly glad that you have sought to address trans and non-binary issues, which have up until now been sidelined from the mainstream.


And yet, it seems impossible to me that you did not gather data in respect of the lesbians and bisexual women who responded, so please publish an addition or an amendment so that DIVA and others can use what will be extremely revealing and valuable statistics for the good of our community.



Only reading DIVA online? You're missing out. For more news, reviews and commentary, check out the latest issue. It's pretty badass, if we do say so ourselves.


divadigital.co.uk // divadirect.co.uk // divasub.co.uk


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