Research by GALOP finds 80% of LGBTIQ people experience online bullying. The bullying includes threats of violence and threats to out people.
The 700 respondents to the survey came from across the United Kingdom. 58% of the reported incidents occurred on Facebook and 34% on Twitter. Of the remainder, 19% occurred in the comments sections of online media outlets, 17% on Instagram, 13% on YouTube and also 11% on dating apps.
Trans people experienced particularly high rates of online bullying with 93% reporting incidents within the last five years. One respondent noted the proliferation of transphobic vilification.
“There are just pages and pages of anti-trans comments on trans related articles saying we should be killed, have mental illness, and are paedophiles.”
Another said, “As a trans woman online, radical feminists have called me (and often all trans women) rapists and paedophiles hundreds of times. The worst incidents involved threats to report me to the police on fabricated charges as ‘a man and a rapist’.”
Some of the respondents also highlighted bullying directed at them by other members of the LGBTIQ communities.
Bisexual, gender non-binary, transgender and asexual respondents noted that some online commenters dispute the inclusion of other sexual minorities in the LGBTIQ communities.
“I have experienced a lot of biphobia in LGBT online spaces,” one wrote.
Another said that, despite being bisexual. “Don’t consider myself part of the LGBT community anymore because there is a lot of hate and toxicity towards us.”
Recent experience in Australia indicates that the tone adopted by media outlets in their discussion of LGBTIQ issues, influences the online comments.
While some respondents indicated they began to dislike their own identity, others said they now disassociated themselves from LGBTIQ groups.
However, some felt empowered to fight back.
“I’ve become an activist. These people are a vocal minority who I wish to counter for the sake of me and my LGBT+ friends and family.”
The GALOP report said victims needed increased guidance on where to report abuse. It also called for a review into existing legislation and more support for victims. It recommended that social media companies tackle anti-LGBTQ bullying. The GALOP researchers said that regulation needed to allow free speech, while erasing hate speech.
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