More focus on LGBT in the workplace

EU report shows seven out of ten LGBTs in EU countries are hesitant about revealing their sexual identity

Last weekend’s Gay Pride activities may have been a resounding success, but judging by EU numbers there is still a long way to go, particularly in the workplace.

A new report by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights showed that seven out of ten EU residents who consider themselves LGBT (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual or transgender) have rarely or never been open about their sexuality or sexual identity.

The same report also revealed that more than eight out of ten people under 18 have seen discrimination in their schools, something that doesn’t surprise Vivi Jelstrup, the head of LGBT union Landsforeningen for Lesbiske, Bøsser, Biseksuelle og Transpersoner.

“I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the most common swear word in Danish schools is ‘bøsserøv’ [literally, faggot arse],” Jelstrup told Information newspaper. “When a teacher in our union came out as a lesbian after living 20 years with a man, she experienced that the other teachers stopped asking what she had been up to at the weekend. It was like something mysterious had happened that they couldn’t comprehend.”

Better, but long way to go
The report shows that the rights of LGBTs have a long way to go before they are accepted by society, according to the equality minister, Manu Sareen (Radikale).

“Not being able to come out and show who you are and who you love to your colleagues is a serious problem,” Sareen told DR Nyheder. “It should be up to the individual to decide, but there should also be a safe, receptive environment for doing so.”

The latest Danish report on the subject dates from 2011 and it found that every second LGBT chose not to reveal their sexual inclinations at work. Despite this, Sareen felt things were moving in the right direction.

“DSB, Nykredit and other companies have made it a priority and are creating a space where LGBTs can come out without fearing harassment. I think that is the consequence of this report,” Sareen said.

SEE ALSO: Gay sportsmen remain in closet

Danish workshop in September
Danish human resources professionals will be invited to focus on how to include LGBTs can be included in the workplace during an the Nordic LGBT Inclusion Workshop in Copenhagen. 

The organisers say they hope it will lead to tangible steps to improve inclusion in public and private sector workplaces.