Wake-up call

Young people more likely than older to think LGBTQ people ‘immoral’

Melania Geymonat (right) and her girlfriend Chris were assaulted in London in June (Photo: Melania Geymonat | Facebook)

A UK survey has found that 18 to 24-year-olds are more likely than any other age group to hold negative views towards LGBTQ communities.

The survey of over 1,600 adults was analyzed by the British LGBTQ anti-violence charity, Galop. The results were revealed yesterday in its Hate Crime Report 2019.

The report carries some encouraging news, such as more than 4 in 5 people said that LGBT+ people should be free to live as they wish.

However, it also found that intolerance and anti-LGBTQ sentiment is far from uncommon. Although only one in 20 said LGBTQ people should not be free to live as they wish, one in five said they’d be uncomfortable with an LGB+ neighbor, and one in four uncomfortable with a trans neighbor.

Disturbingly, it found younger age groups showed a greater lack of acceptance towards gay, bi and trans folk.

One in five people said being LGBTQ was “immoral or against their beliefs.” This rose to one in four among 18- to 24-year-olds, higher than other age groups.

Ten percent of people said being LGBTQ could be “cured.” Again, this rose to 20% for under-25s, compared to 5% of those aged 55-65.

When asked if they believed LGBTQ people are “dangerous” to others, only 3% of the oldest age group agreed with the statement. This rose to 15% of those aged 25-34 and 16% of those aged under 25.

Related: Homophobic Oregon man makes history as first person charged under new hate crime law

In their report, Galop’s authors speculate the intolerance shown by younger people, “perhaps reflects a combination of the influence of the rise of anti-LGBT+ rhetoric globally … It may also be connected to the influence of a growing number of siloed online communities of hate.”

It recommends more research into why some younger people have negative attitudes towards gay and trans folk, and greater work with social media companies to challenge, “toxic cultures of hate online.”

Nick Antjoule, Galop’s Head of Hate Crime Services said the findings offer, “a sobering reminder that progress achieved in recent decades can easily be reversed.

“Young people polled tended to hold more negative views toward LGBT+ people than other age groups. This alarming finding warns of a generational pivot ahead and a bumpy road for those of us committed to challenging anti-LGBT violence and abuse.”

The report arrived on the same day the UK’s Home Office published its latest hate crime statistics. Compared to last year’s figures, these showed a 10% increase in hate crimes toward people because of their sexuality, and a 37% increase in transphobic hate crimes.

Over the summer, one such incident made headlines around the world. A same-sex female couple were assaulted on a London bus after being ordered to kiss by a group of young men. Five teenagers were subsequently arrested in connection with the attack. One of the women, Melania Geymonat, posted about the incident to her Facebook.

Related: Lesbian bashing couple speaks out after 5 teens arrested

Campaigners say Brexit and right-wing populism have contributed towards a rise in hate crime. Others say some of the increase can be attributed to more people feeling confident enough to report such crimes to the police.

Nik Noone, Galop’s Chief Executive said, “Recorded anti-LGBT+ hate crime has doubled in the last three years. This is reflected in the escalating scale, severity and complexity of hate crime cases we are supporting at Galop.

It was today reported that UK authorities will increase sentencing terms for those found guilty of anti-gay or anti-trans hate crimes. British judges will be instructed to sentence those found guilty of either to at least six months in jail.

Although Galop has published previous Hate Crime Reports, it has not included exactly the same data, so is unable to say whether these figures represent an increase or decrease in regards to acceptance. However, these UK findings around millennials are not isolated. In June, A GLAAD report in the US found that younger Americans feel increasingly ‘uncomfortable’ with the LGBTQ community.

GLAAD’s annual Accelerating Acceptance Index showed increasing acceptance across its first three surveys. However, the last two surveys have shown a reversal in acceptance among younger age groups: “the number of young Americans ages 18-34 who are comfortable across all seven scenarios [of LGBTQ acceptance] dropped from 53% to 45%, the second consecutive year that this age group has shown a drop.”