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Discrimination in everyday life persists – at work and at school; at cafés, restaurants, bars and nightclubs; when looking for housing; when accessing healthcare or social services; and in shops. Harassment and physical and sexual attacks also remain concerns. Trans and intersex people especially face challenges, including when having to show identification documents. For LGBTI people aged 15 to 17, the situation is mixed. While the young encounter more harassment than their older peers, they also see more individuals standing up for LGBTI people at school.
The results also show that LGBTI people across the EU – and beyond – believe that law and policy, as well as behaviour by politicians, public figures, community leaders and civil society, greatly affect their lives. By presenting key findings from its second survey, FRA aims to encourage policy- and decision-makers to step up their efforts to promote full respect for the rights of LGBTI people.
This is an overview of the Fundamental Rights Agency’s 2019 LGBTI survey. The survey builds on the Agency’s 2012 LGBT survey.
With 140,000 respondents from 30 countries, it is the world’s largest survey of the LGBTI community ever. For the first time, it covers intersex people as well as 15-17 year olds.
The below questions and answers are based on the results of the survey and the response of LGBTI people who took part in it.
See our methodology Q&A for more about how FRA did the survey.
See our interactive data explorer for detailed information about each country.
In 2012, FRA carried out the first ever EU-wide survey of everyday experiences of LGBT people. Over 93,000 LGBT people from across the EU (including Croatia, which at the time was not an EU Member State) took part. The results showed that fear, isolation and discrimination were all too common in Europe’s LGBT community.
Since then, several EU countries have put in place measures to better protect the rights of LGBTI people. These range from legal gender recognition, to victim support and promotion of equality. Many have put in place same-sex partnership legislation.
Following calls from the European Commission and the Council of the European Union, FRA repeated the survey in 2019 to see how has the situation of LGBTI people changed. This time, about 140,000 LGBTI people took part in the survey. Intersex people and those aged 15 to 17 were included for the first time in this listening exercise.
In the 2019 survey, the LGB categories cover respondents who self-identified as lesbian women, gay men, bisexual women or bisexual men. Trans or intersex respondents who also identified as L, G or B are covered by the trans and intersex categories.
The findings provide national and European policymakers with much needed evidence on progress made in the EU, as well as in the United Kingdom and in the candidate countries of North Macedonia and Serbia. It gives them evidence-based information so that they can put in place measures to effectively protect and promote the rights of LGBTI people.
LGBTI people aged 15 to 17 experience more harassment than their older peers. However, almost half of them (48%) say someone supported, defended or protected them and their rights as LBBTI people at school. This support drops to 33% for people aged 18 to 24 and to 7% for those 40 and over.
LGBTI issues are also more positively addressed at school. 47% of 15-17 year olds say that LGBTI issues were addressed at school and 10% say they were addressed negatively.
Over 41% say they were harassed in the last year. But compared to gay or bisexual men, lesbian women are less likely to report harassment or any physical attack to any authority.
They also have less confidence in their government when it comes to effectively combatting prejudice and intolerance against LGBTI people than gay men.
Gay men (together with bisexual men) are the most likely to avoid holding hands with their partners in public. They are also more likely to avoid certain places for fear of being attacked than lesbian or bisexual women.
Almost 38% were harassed and over a quarter do not report incidents out of fear.
Bisexual women are least likely to avoid certain places for fear of being assaulted or harassed. But almost a half say they were harassed because of their sex in addition to being LGBTI. This is considerably more than any other group.
Hate crimes against bisexual women are the most likely to result in sexual violence. At the same time, they are the group least likely to report these incidents.
Bisexual men are the least likely to be open about being LGBTI. The more open they were about their bisexuality, the greater the risk of physical violence and harassment.
At the same time, bisexual men in a relationship are the most likely to have a family of their own. Almost one-third of bisexual respondents with a partner are raising a child.
Over a half of trans people have been discriminated against over the last year, compared to 39% of lesbian women and 32% of gay men. Trans teenagers suffer much more discrimination than their lesbian, gay or bisexual peers.
A higher proportion of trans people felt discriminated at work in 2019 compared to 2012.
The trans community suffers more harassment and assaults than their lesbian, gay and bisexual peers. They have the most doubt that governments are doing enough to ensure the safety of the LGBTI community.
One in 3 consider bullying and violence as the main problem of intersex people and just under 1 in 3 (29%) say the main problem is that people wrongly see intersex as a disease.
Intersex people are twice as likely to experience a physical or sexual attack for being LGBTI than the group average. Twenty-two percent (22%) report such attacks, compared to 12% of gay men and 10% of lesbian women.
Many intersex people highlight the absence of informed consent for medical procedures they had to go through. 62% say that they did not provide a fully informed consent before their first surgical treatment to modify their sex characteristics. Almost a half say that informed consent was not provided for hormonal treatment or any other type of medical treatment.
The situation for intersex people is further complicated when dealing with everyday bureaucracy. Among those who registered their civil status or gender in public documents, 60% say they had to provide excessive documents or medical certificates, while 40% say they were denied service or ridiculed and harassed by officials.
LGBTI people also think that ‘positive changes in law and policy’ and ‘support by public figures and civil society’ lower discrimination. Countries which openly debate single-sex marriage or LGBTI equality tend to have less discrimination.
The situation deteriorates when society is negative towards the LGBTI community, when public figures, politicians and political parties have negative stance and public discourse, community leaders and civil society are unsupportive, and existing laws are not enforced.
Build a culture of zero tolerance towards violence and harassment of the LGBTI community
Ensure that nobody needs to hide their sexual orientation or gender identity
Create a safe and supportive environment at school
Tackle discrimination in all areas of life
Confront multiple and intersectional discrimination
Require full informed consent of intersex people for medical interventions
The survey collected data from people that self identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans or intersex through a fully anonymous open online survey tool.
The LGB categories cover respondents who self-identified as lesbian women, gay men, bisexual women or bisexual men. Trans or intersex respondents who also identified as L, G, or B are covered by the trans and intersex categories.
After an open call for tender competition, a consortium of Agilis SA and Homoevolution collected and processed the data under FRA’s guidance and supervision. FRA conducted the analysis in the report.
The survey also allowed respondents to find out about FRA, the organisations managing the data collection, organisations that could provide victim support in their country, and how the collected data would be used. It guaranteed full anonymity and confidentiality.
The countries with the largest samples are Spain (14%), Germany (12%), Poland, France (both 10%) and the United Kingdom (9%). Cyprus, Luxembourg, North Macedonia and Slovenia have the smallest sample (each less than 0.5% of all respondents).
In terms of socio-demographics, respondents are predominantly young with an average age of 29. Four out of five respondents (82%) are younger than 40. Over a third are between 18-24 years and 14% are 15-17. Only 4% of respondents are over 55.
Almost half of the sample (45%) have a university education. 47% live in a big city.
About a third (37%) indicate that their households have difficulties to make ends meet, particularly intersex (52%) and trans (46%) respondents.
Although the results cannot be considered as representative of all LGBTI people in the EU, they constitute by far the largest collection of empirical evidence on discrimination and hate crime against LGBTI people worldwide since FRA’s first survey in 2012.
Throughout the survey, respondents had access to detailed information on how the data provided by them will be stored and processed.
No respondent can be identified in the survey results. The answers were combined with those of others who took part in the survey and only anonymous statistical data are used for the report. The data collection and the analysis process were performed without reference to any personal or sensitive data capable of identifying people. The survey also contained an ‘open’ response option where respondents could write more about their experiences. The report includes quotes from this open response option, but none of the quotes allow for the identification of any individual.
Taking part in the survey could require up to 45 minutes, which would also likely dissuade non-genuine respondents. As past surveys have shown, responses in almost all cases are genuine, given the time and attention needed to complete a detailed questionnaire in a coherent manner, and taking into account various reliability checks that were done.
Before data analysis, FRA checked the responses for consistency. If there were specific contradictions/inconsistencies, and failures in various other survey checks, the cases were removed from the dataset. The controls included checks for ‘speeders’ (those who completed the survey too quickly), and internally highly inconsistent answers, which could reflect efforts to distort the results. The responses were assigned a combined quality score and were deleted if they failed to meet data quality standards. After such schecks, 1,822 responses (1.3 %) were excluded from the final dataset of the 139,799 survey responses that were kept for the analysis.
The new survey builds strongly on FRA’s first EU LGBT survey in 2012. However, it is wider in scope. In addition to the categories in the 2012 survey, the 2019 survey includes intersex people, respondents from Serbia and North Macedonia, as well as 15-17 year olds.
FRA compared the results with respect to differences in selected indicators between the 2012 and 2019 surveys, where possible. FRA did this by developing comparable datasets for the 2012 and 2019 surveys. This included data only for LGBT people over 18 years old from the 2019 survey, excluding the intersex category that was not surveyed in 2012, as well as respondents in Serbia and North Macedonia, and LGBTI youth.
FRA also applied appropriate weighting methods to maximise comparability between the 2012 and the 2019 survey.
These files provide key survey findings for each country:
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