Nottingham is an LGBT friendly city according to new research carried out by Middlesex University London.
The Divercity research project, funded by the European Union, looked at the experience of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people living in six small and medium-sized European cities – Charleroi in Belgium; Girona and Sabadell in Spain; Thessaloniki in Greece; Wroclaw in Poland and Nottingham in the UK.
As part of the research, 70 Nottingham people were asked a range of questions to study attitudes to LGBT people in the city. There were also 25 interviews with LGBT community members and local stakeholders.
The responses showed that 80% of people had acquaintances who were LGBT and 30% had LGBT family members.
94% said they were comfortable interacting with LGBT people and 87% felt comfortable interacting with transgender people.
Responses showed that:
- 62% felt Nottingham was an LGBT friendly city – only 6% disagreed with 32% neither agreeing or disagreeing.
- 29% felt that discrimination against LGBT people in Nottingham was a major social problem
- 83% felt comfortable if LGBT people express affection in public
- 79% agreed Nottingham should have LGBT bars, clubs, spaces
In addition to looking at local attitudes to LGBT people, the Divercity project examined the different dimensions of homophobia and transphobia in small/medium EU cities, focussing on hate crime.
It aimed to make visible the needs and lives of LGBT people, better understand how these lives are affected by government policies and by other people and to share best practice to combat LGBT phobia, locate social/safe spaces and help people understand their rights under legislation.
Nottingham City Council’s Equality & Community Relations team has supported the study.
The Council’s Portfolio Holder for Community and Customer Services, Councillor Toby Neal, said: “The study is generally very positive about attitudes to LGBT people in Nottingham and the experience of living in the city for the LGBT community.
“We will look at the full findings with our partner organisations to see what further work can be done to address some of the issues raised.”
Other findings in key areas include:
- Austerity cuts have impacted upon services but many feel city provision for gay men is strong though not so good for others
- There is good local partner engagement in the city with a large number of LGBT agencies and organisations offering a range of services for LGBT people
- LGBT people feel comfortable at work. Local council, police and health staff receiving lots of support with several local organisations featuring in the Stonewall Top 100 Workplace Equality Index for being inclusive towards Sexual Orientation and gender identity
- LGBT feel mostly comfortable in the city centre – less so in some city areas, the suburbs and the wider County
- Police are considered supportive of LGBT people and thought to be good though less so in rural areas outside the city
- Hate crimes and Incidents re sexual orientation are up, in Nottingham City from 71 in 2015/16 to 94 in 2016/17, an increase of 32%, and in the county from 62 to 114 over the same period, an increase of 84%
- The number of hate crimes and incidents was lower than people thought and for those interviewed, most incidents were in the past
- There was an increased likelihood of reporting with more confidence in police and authorities to act
Public Spaces & Visibility
- There is a lack of community shared space – an LGBT centre – in the city and county while Leicester has the Rainbow House
- The demise of gay bars has resulted in a limited number of venues which can lead to the isolation of some, often older, gay men
- Recent successes around LGBT visibility were highlighted such as IDAHOT events including the flying of the Rainbow Flag from Nottingham Castle; LGBT History Month; Nottinghamshire Pride; the BiCon conference for bisexuals and the Trans Day of Remembrance
- LGBT Communities are both large and diverse
- The decline of venues can lead to a decline in ‘the gay scene’ or in visibility though people can switch to social media to set up groups and online communities
- Whilst LGBT community is more present and increasingly visible, many now think the LGBT community lacks the cohesion it once had
- Lack of inclusivity amongst LGBT people was highlighted
- Older people had a harder time
- People were mostly comfortable being out at work
- There was mostly Zero Tolerance of any LGBT discrimination and a feeling that Equality legislation is in favour of LGBT people at present
The experience of Transgender people
- There has been a large increase in Trans groups but they often feel excluded from public spaces. Use of semi-public space can be a challenge (e.g. changing rooms) which often restricts participation in activities
- Exclusion is also experienced in relation to LGB spaces which Trans people don’t always feel welcome to share
- Trans issues are not well understood but there is some emerging good practice
Other areas considered in the study included health services, the media and work/professional life.
The full study report will be published later this year.