Almost half of gay and bisexual men have been sexually assaulted, according to a new survey.
SurvivorsUK, a charity that supports men and non-binary people who have experienced sexual assault, asked 505 gay and bisexual men if they have ever experienced “something you would describe as a sexual assault”.
Some 45 per cent of respondents said they had been sexually assaulted, with those in the 18-34 age bracket most likely to have experienced sexual abuse.
Notably, 37 per cent of those who had been sexually assaulted said they felt they couldn’t talk to anybody about their experience afterwards. More than a third of sexual assault survivors were targeted in a bar or a pub.
While significant numbers of gay and bisexual men have experienced sexual assault, only a small number of those reported it to police, the survey found. Just 14 per cent reported their sexual assault to law enforcement authorities.
Almost a third of those who did report their sexual assault to police said they felt “disbelieved” or like their complaint was not taken seriously. Younger people and those living in London were more likely to feel comfortable reporting their sexual assault to police.
Meanwhile, a quarter of gay and bisexual men said an intimate picture of them had been shared with a third party without their consent, while 50 per cent said they had been touched “in a sexual or intimate way” without their consent.
Almost a third of gay and bisexual men said the LGBT+ community is broadly supportive of sexual assault survivors (32 per cent), but 12 per cent said “victim blaming” was a problem within the community.
In addition, 15 per cent said normalisation of sexual assault among queer people was an issue, while 19 per cent drew attention to the prevalence of “fetishisation” in the community.
Shockingly, almost one in five respondents (19 per cent) said a sexual partner had removed a condom without them knowing and without their consent during sex, while 28 per cent said they had sex while unable to consent due to drugs or alcohol.
The survey was commissioned by SurvivorsUK and was carried out by an external polling and marketing research company in August 2020 through an online panel.
Gay man who came out aged 48 was drugged and sexually assaulted
A gay man, named only as Hugh, told SurvivorsUK about his traumatic experience of sexual assault, which saw him drugged and raped by a group of men.
Hugh, 58, came out as gay 10 years ago, which led to him and his wife separating. He was keen to explore the gay dating world and joined some dating apps in the hope of meeting other men.
Shortly afterwards, he met with a man and they discussed his limits – but the experience quickly went south when he was injected with a substance against his will.
When he regained consciousness, Hugh became aware that several men had had sex with him while he was unconscious, while the entire ordeal had been filmed by the aggressors.
SurvivorsUK shared Hugh’s experience to shine a light on the complexity of sexual assault within the queer community.
Alex Feis-Bryce, CEO of SurvivorsUK, noted that gay and bisexual men are twice as likely as their straight counterparts to experience sexual violence.
“As the CEO of an organisation which supports hundreds of gay and bisexual male survivors every year and as a survivor myself, who has experienced sexual violence in queer spaces, I am sadly not surprised by these findings,” Feis-Bryce said.
Feis-Bryce said the statistics “should be of grave concern to us as a society”.
“There is much work to be done to raise awareness about this issue in the LGBTQ+ community and beyond as well as ensuring that the police and criminal justice system, which currently fails so many survivors, is a safe and accessible place for gay and bisexual men.
“It is absolutely crucial in opening up this challenging discussion that oxygen is not given to any of the dangerous homophobic rape myths which are prevalent in our criminal justice system and blame victims; in particular, the false assumption that gay and bi men are promiscuous so therefore their consent is somehow assumed or has less value.”
Rape Crisis England and Wales works towards the elimination of sexual violence. If you’ve been affected by the issues raised in this story, you can access more information on their website or by calling the National Rape Crisis Helpline on 0808 802 9999. Rape Crisis Scotland’s helpline number is 08088 01 03 02.
Readers in the US are encouraged to contact RAINN, or the National Sexual Assault Hotline on 800-656-4673.