A major poll of lesbian and gay people in the UK, commissioned by gay rights group Stonewall, has found that despite recent legislative protections, a majority still believe they will be discriminated against when accessing public services.

Almost a third expect to be treated worse than a heterosexual when enrolling their child in primary or secondary school. Nine in ten think they would face barriers from becoming a foster parent. Three in five still think they’d face barriers if they wanted to be a parliamentary candidate for the Labour Party, a figure that rises to 90 per cent for the Conservatives.

The poll, conducted by YouGov, surveyed a sample of 1,658, the first statistically significant national poll ever conducted into the life experiences of Britain’s 3.6 million gay people.

Asked about their own experiences and expectations of discrimination when it came to work, education, politics, crime and the criminal justice system, housing and healthcare, the findings show:

  • One in five expect worse treatment when applying for social housing.
  • 60 per cent expect to face barriers to becoming a magistrate.
  • A fifth expect to be treated worse than a heterosexual when reporting any crime to the police. A third think they would be treated worse by police if suspected of committing a crime, a figure which rises to 41 per cent in London.
  • Nearly a quarter think they would be treated worse if they appeared before a judge for committing a criminal offence.

The polling is published in a new report, Serves You Right, which also makes a range of recommendations offering simple ways of improving public service delivery for lesbian and gay people.

Ben Summerskill, Stonewall’s Chief Executive, said: “Too many public services are still a bit too smug about the progress being made towards fair treatment for the lesbian and gay taxpayers who help fund them. The insight provided by this report is a valuable antidote to that sort of complacency.’

Serves You Right does, however, find that public bodies and companies that make a positive effort to promote fair treatment can reap significant reputational benefits.

Nearly half of lesbian and gay people said they were likely to buy products from businesses that use images of gay people to sell their goods while two thirds are more likely to buy products from a company that shows a positive commitment to recruiting gay people.

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