The ‘Complicated?’ report was launched by the Equality Network, is the first UK wide research report to focus specifically on bisexual people’s experiences of accessing services. It highlights examples of good practice and suggests how to make services more inclusive for bisexual people.
The research surveyed 515 bisexual people across the UK, and found that nearly half had experienced biphobia while accessing mainstream services. 38% had experienced sexual harassment, often centred on negative stereotypes falsely labelling bisexual people as promiscuous or unfaithful.
The report findings suggest that bisexual people had experienced higher levels of discrimination within health services than any other public services. 28% of those surveyed never feel comfortable telling their GP that they are bisexual. One respondent said: “A nurse refused to treat me due to being bisexual. My mother overheard him saying to the senior nurse, ‘I refuse to treat her, she’s not normal and just greedy, she needs to decide what gender she loves, it’s unnatural to love both’.”
The research also found that over a quarter of bisexual people have experienced prejudice when accessing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) services. One respondent reported they had “heard lots of negative comments about bisexual people and dismissal of the need to include bisexual people.” Another respondent reported being told that “bisexuals are ‘confused’ and not as good as ‘real gays’.”
The Equality Network’s report also highlights examples of good practice in service provision and proposes a roadmap to make services more inclusive for bisexual people. The respondents in the survey called for mainstream and LGBT services to involve bisexual people more in service development.
Tim Hopkins, Director of the Equality Network said: “Unfortunately, as the report findings show, bisexual people are often misunderstood and discriminated against by many services. This leaves them at high risk of not getting appropriate information and support. We hope that this report will help services to better understand and assist bisexual people.”
Sam Rankin, Intersectional Equalities Coordinator and lead author of the report, said: “When explaining why bisexual equality is important and how people are discriminated against it is vital that we have robust data and real life examples to illustrate our points. Now that we have these we, and others, will be better able to take more effective steps in providing appropriate, inclusive services.”