Complicated? Bisexuality needn’t be…

complicated 200pxComplicated? is a new report published today highlighting experiences of biphobia.

It explores the impact of biphobia and reflects how bisexual communities can – and sometimes cannot – help provide refuge from, or empowerment to challenge, anti-bi prejudice and discrimination.

Launched this morning in Edinburgh by LGBTI charity the Equality Network, it makes a series of recommendations for how services can be improved to better meet bi people’s needs. It’s based on more than 700 survey responses – making it one of the biggest pieces of bisexual-focused research to date.

The majority of survey respondents felt they needed to pass as gay or straight when accessing public services due to biphobic attitudes or past experiences. The NHS and LGBT services are those most frequently referred to – perhaps in part because they are services where people are most likely to both use often and feel they need to disclose their sexual orientation compared to experience of services like policing.

NHScomplicated

LGBTcomplicated

Speaking at the launch BCN editor Jen Yockney commented, “For twenty years now I’ve been characterising biphobia as having different ‘flavours’. There is biphobia that is analagous to homophobia, biphobia that while different is similar to heterophobia, our internalised biphobia as bi people from living in a world where we grow up absorbing biphobic values, but also there is biphobia that is institutional, that is about how organisations work.

“Complicated? sets out the challenge to organisations to change their work to be more inclusive of and engaging with bisexual people, through a plethora of individual stories.”

The report notes one of the factors in the lack of inclusion and support for people who find they need to challenge biphobia is the low level of organised bi community compared to what the past fifty years of gay and lesbian support and campaigning has built up across the country:

In many parts of the UK there are a lack of local bisexual groups and events because bisexual specific work receives very little funding or mainstream support. This was the main difficulty identified by the 85% of respondents who only feel “a little” or “not at all” part of a bisexual community.

The report sets out what it calls a “roadmap to bisexual inclusion” for service providers – whether mainstream or LGBT.

It notes:

Why should your organisation prioritise understanding bisexual people’s experiences of services?

  • Bisexual people are highly unlikely to share their sexual orientation with services, most commonly because of fear of negative reactions.
  • 66% feel that they have to pass as straight and 42% feel they need to pass as gay or lesbian when accessing services.
  • 48% have experienced biphobic comments and 38% have experienced unwanted sexual comments about them being bisexual while accessing services.
  • The highest amounts of biphobia experienced are within LGBT and NHS services.
  • 61% have experienced multiple discrimination. 35% said that they are disabled.

You can download the report from the Equality Network’s website.