Gay/Lesbian Rape Statistics [2022 Data on LGBTQ Violence & Assault]

LGBTQ violence and assault are REAL. We review all the gay/lesbian rape statistics from various studies and how they affect each victim and the LGBTQ community as a whole. Read on:

The LGBTQ community experiences sexual violence and rape at staggeringly high levels.

These crimes are less commonly known due to the smaller number of gay, lesbian, and transgender people in the country but happen at rates of nearly 3-6 times that of straight people.

This article reviews the statistics from various studies on the rates of rape and sexual violence in the LGBTQ community, their causes, and their effects.

Top Gay / Lesbian Rape Statistics You Should Know:

  • 47% of transgender people are sexually assaulted at some point in their lifetime.
  • 59.1% of LGBTQ students felt unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation.
  • 52.4% of students reported hearing homophobic remarks from their teachers or other school staff.
  • LGBT women are 5 times more likely than non-LGBT women to experience violent victimization.
  • 16.7% of hate crimes are based on sexual orientation, the third-largest category after race and religion.
  • 13% (one in eight) of LGBTQ people have experienced some form of unequal treatment from healthcare staff.
  • 40% of transgender respondents have attempted suicide in their lifetime—nearly nine times the attempted suicide rate in the U.S. population (4.6%).

LGBTQ Statistics in America

Sexual violence is increasingly common in the LGBTQ community, with more than 50% of all people experiencing sexual violence of some kind. Here are the top statistics on sexual violence in America:

  • People of every gender identity and sexual orientation are affected by sexual violence. People who identify as part of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) communities also experience sexual violence.
    • (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), unspecified)1
  • 47% of transgender people are sexually assaulted at some point in their lifetime.
  • Among people of color, the following respondents were most likely to have been sexually assaulted in their lifetime:
    • American Indian (65%) 
    • Multiracial (59%)
    • Middle Eastern (58%)
    • Black (53%)
      • (The Human Rights Campaign, 2015)2
  • From an intimate partner: 
    • 44% of lesbian women, 61% of bisexual women, and 35% of heterosexual women experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking in their lifetime. (The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS), 2010)3
    • 26% of gay men, 37% of bisexual men, and 29% of heterosexual men who experienced rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime. (The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS), 2010)3
    • Approximately 1 in 5 bisexual women (22%) and nearly 1 in 10 heterosexual women (9%) have been raped by an intimate partner in their lifetime. (NISVS, 2010)3
  • LGBT homeless youth were physically and sexually attacked by seven more people than heterosexual homeless youth on average. (Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs (WCSAP), 2004)4
  • 52% of gay and lesbian people reported at least one incident of sexual coercion by same-sex partners. 
    • Gay men experienced 1.6 incidents per person, while lesbians experienced 1.2 incidents per person. (Violence and Victims, 1997)5

Forms of Sexual Violence Concerning the LGBTQ Community

According to the data, gay men are sexually abused significantly more frequently than straight men, but that trend doesn’t seem to hold true for women:

  • Women
    • 13% of lesbian women, nearly half of bisexual women (46%), and 1 in 6 (17%) of heterosexual women have been raped in their lifetime.
      • This translates to an estimated 214,000 lesbian women, 1.5 million bisexual women, and 19 million heterosexual women.
        • (The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS), 2010)3
  • Men
    • 40% of gay men, 47% of bisexual men, and 1 in 5 heterosexual men (21%) have experienced sexual violence other than rape in their lifetime.
      • This translates into nearly 1.1 million gay men, 903,000 bisexual men, and 21.6 million heterosexual men.
      • (The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS), 2010)3

Prevalence of Sexual Violence Towards an LGBTQ by an Intimate Partner

Intimate partner violence is one of the most common forms of sexual violence, and this holds true in the LGBTQ community: 

  • The prevalence of rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime:
    • Women:
      • Bisexual – 61%
      • Lesbian – 44%
      • Heterosexual – 35%
    • Men:
      • Bisexual – 37%
      • Gay – 26%
      • Heterosexual – 29%
        • (The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS), 2010)3

Alarming Rates of Sexual Violence for Lesbian & Bisexual vs. Heterosexual Women

Lesbian and Bisexual women experience rape almost twice as often as heterosexual women:

  • Almost half of bisexual women (48%) and more than a quarter of heterosexual women (28%) were raped between the ages of 11 and 17 years.
    • (The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS), 2010)3
  • 37% (one in 3) of bisexual women and 1 in 6 heterosexual women (16%) have experienced stalking at some point during their lifetime.
    • This translates into 1.2 million bisexual women and 16.8 million heterosexual women.
      • (The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS), 2010)3
  • 20% of lesbian and heterosexual women and 48% of bisexual women reported they were concerned for their safety.
    • Lesbian (20%), Bisexual (46%), and Heterosexual (22%) have at least reported at least one posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptom.
      • (The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS), 2010)3
  • 37% of bisexual women were injured as a result of rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner.
    • (The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS), 2010)3

Sobering Data on the LGBTQ Young People at School

One of the most common places LGBTQ people experience sexual violence is in schools, the data shows:

  • School Safety:
    • 59.1% of LGBTQ students felt unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation, 42.5% because of their gender expression, and 37.4% because of their gender.
    • When surveyed, 32.7% of LGBTQ students missed at least one entire day of school in the past month due to feeling unsafe or uncomfortable.
      •  8.6% missed four or more days in the past month.
    • Nearly half of LGBTQ youth avoided gender-segregated spaces in school because they felt unsafe or uncomfortable:
      •  45.2% avoided bathrooms, and 43.7% avoided locker rooms.
    • 77.6% reported avoiding school functions and extracurricular activities (71.8%) because they felt unsafe or uncomfortable.
    • 17.1% reported changing schools due to feeling unsafe or uncomfortable at school.
      • (GLSEN National School Climate Survey, 2019)6

  • Anti-LGBTQ Remarks at School:
    • Almost all LGBTQ students (98.8%) heard “gay” used in a negative way (e.g., “that’s so gay”) at school; 75.6% heard these remarks frequently or often.
      • 91.8% reported feeling distressed because of this language.
    • 96.9% of LGBTQ students heard the phrase “no homo” at school.
      •  60.9% heard this phrase frequently or often.
    • 95.2% of LGBTQ students heard other homophobic remarks (e.g., “dyke” or “faggot”).
      • 54.4% heard this type of language frequently or often.
    • 91.8% of LGBTQ students heard negative remarks about gender expression (not acting “masculine enough” or “feminine enough”).
      • 53.2% heard these remarks frequently or often.
    • 87.4% of LGBTQ students heard negative remarks about transgender people, like “tranny” or “he/she.”
      • 43.7% heard them frequently or often.
    • 52.4% of students reported hearing homophobic remarks from their teachers or other school staff.
      • 66.7% of students reported hearing negative remarks about gender expression from teachers or other school staff.
    • Only 13.7% of LGBTQ students reported that school staff intervened most of the time when hearing these remarks, and less than one-tenth (9.0%) reported that school staff intervened all the time.
      • (GLSEN National School Climate Survey, 2019)6

  • Harassment and Assault at School:
    • 68.7% of LGBTQ students experience verbal harassment (e.g., called names or threatened) at school based on sexual orientation.
      • 56.9% based on gender expression.
      • 53.7% based on gender.
    • 25.7% of LGBTQ students were physically harassed (e.g., pushed or shoved) in the past year based on sexual orientation.
      • 21.8% based on gender expression.
      • 22.2% based on gender.
    • 11.0% of LGBTQ students were physically assaulted (e.g., punched, kicked, injured with a weapon) in the past year based on sexual orientation.
      • 9.5% based on gender expression.
      • 9.3% based on gender.
    • Many LGBTQ students were also bullied or harassed at school based on other characteristics:
      • 36.5% based on actual or perceived disability
      • 23.1% based on actual or perceived religion
      • 21.4% based on actual or perceived race or ethnicity
    • 44.9% of LGBTQ students experienced electronic harassment in the past year (via text messages or postings on Facebook), aka cyberbullying.
    • 58.3% of LGBTQ students were sexually harassed (e.g., unwanted touching or sexual remarks) in the past year at school.
      • (GLSEN National School Climate Survey, 2019)6

  • Student Reporting of Harassment and Assault Incidents:
    • 56.6% of LGBTQ students harassed or assaulted in school did not report the incident to school staff.
      • Most said they doubted effective intervention would occur or believed the situation could worsen if reported.
    • 60.5% of the students who did report an incident said that school staff did nothing in response or told the student to ignore it.
      • (GLSEN National School Climate Survey, 2019)6

How Often Does the LGBTQ Community Get Sexually Assaulted?

LGBTQ people are assaulted nearly 6 times more frequently than straight people. Transgender people are the most likely to experience sexual violence, with almost 60% reporting being forced to have sex against their will.

  • LGBT people experienced 71.1 victimizations per 1,000 people, compared to 19.2 victimizations per 1,000 people for non-LGBT people.
    • This means LGBT people are about 6 times more likely to experience violence from someone they know and about 2.5 times more likely to undergo it at the hands of a stranger.
    • LGBT women are 5 times more likely than non-LGBT women to experience violent victimization.
      • (The Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, 2020)7
  • 28.3% and 11.9% reported at least one episode of victimization because of sexual orientation in their lifetime and the last year, respectively:
    • Lesbians, compared to bisexual women, had almost twice the odds of experiencing an episode of victimization.
      • (Public Library of Science, PLOS ONE, 2013)8
  • Of those who had experienced victimization, 42.1% reported one episode in the last year.
    • Women are more likely to fear victimization than men, and lesbian or gay men & women are more likely to fear it than bisexual women and men.
      • (Public Library of Science, PLOS ONE, 2013)8
  • 60% of the transgender respondents have been forced to have sex against their will. 38% had been subject to multiple incidents of sexual assault.
    • (Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (barcc), 2006)9
  • 72% of lesbian and bisexual girls reported being “called sexually offensive names” by their peers, compared with 63% of heterosexual girls.
    • Lesbians and bisexual girls were significantly more likely than heterosexual girls to be:
      • Touched, brushed up against, or cornered in a sexual way (63% as compared to 52% of heterosexual girls)
      • Grabbed or have their clothing pulled in a sexual way (50% compared to 44% of heterosexual girls)
        • (Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (barcc), 2006)10

Why Does the LGBTQ Community Get Sexually Assaulted?

One of the biggest questions when hearing these stats is “Why?” – here’s what the data says:

  • Assaults on homosexuals and other individuals who deviate from sex-role norms are viewed as a learned form of social control of deviance rather than a defensive response to personal threats. (SAGE Publications, 1998)11
  • When asked the most common types of violence they have experienced:
    • 20% experienced physical violence
    • 18% experienced verbal harassment
    • 13% experienced threats and intimidations
    • 8% experienced isolation
    • 7% experienced online and telephone harassment
    • 5% experienced stalking
    • 4% experienced sexual violence
    • 4% experienced financial and economic violence
      • (National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs(NCAVP), 2015)12
  • 50% of transgender people reported being hit by a partner after coming out as transgender.
    • (Office for Victims of Crime, 2005.)13
  • 2% of respondents avoided public transportation in the past year for fear of mistreatment as a transgender person. (National Center for Transgender Equality, 2015.)14
  • 59% avoided restrooms, either sometimes (48%) or always (11%), such as in public, at work, or school, because they were afraid of confrontations or other problems. (National Center for Transgender Equality, 2015.)14

Addressing Homophobia/Biphobia/Transphobia

One important way to combat homophobia is to address it in all areas of life – from family, coworkers, or healthcare staff.

  • 16.7% of hate crimes are based on sexual orientation, the third-largest category after race and religion.
    • This report also shows an uptick in gender identity-based hate crimes, from 2.2% in 2018 to 2.7% in 2019.
      • (Human Rights Campaign, 2020)15
  • 67% report they’ve heard family members make negative comments about LGBTQ people.
    • (Human Rights Campaign, 2018)16
  • Around 7 out of 10 (68%) experienced at least one form of sexual harassment at work.
    • (Trades Union Congress (TUC), 2018)17
  • 13% (one in eight) of LGBTQ people have experienced some form of unequal treatment from healthcare staff.
    • 23% have witnessed discriminatory or negative remarks against LGBT people by healthcare staff.
    • 14% have avoided treatment for fear of discrimination because they’re LGBT.
    • (StoneWall, 2017)18
  • 12% of transgender people were verbally harassed, physically attacked, or sexually assaulted when accessing or using a restroom in the past year.
    •  (National Center for Transgender Equality, 2015.)14

Effects of LGBT Sexual Violence

The negative effects of sexual violence against the LGBTQ community are far-reaching:

  • LGBTQ students who experienced victimization have:
    • Nearly three times the likelihood to have missed school in the past month than those who haven’t (57.2% vs. 21.7%).
    • More likely to have lower grade point averages (GPAs) than students who were less often harassed (3.03 vs. 3.34)
    • Lower self-esteem, less school belonging, and higher levels of depression.
      • (GLSEN National School Climate Survey, 2019)6
  • 39% of transgender respondents experienced serious psychological distress the month before completing the survey, compared with only 5% of the U.S. population.
    •  (National Center for Transgender Equality, 2015.)14
  • 40% of transgender respondents have attempted suicide in their lifetime—nearly nine times the attempted suicide rate in the U.S. population (4.6%).
    •  (National Center for Transgender Equality, 2015.)14

Here are some of the most common reactions that LGBTQ people have after experiencing sexual violence:

  • Wanting to be believed
    • Not feeling believed or worrying that they won’t be believed.
  • Wondering if it’s their fault
    • Feelings of shame, guilt, or like it is their fault.
  • Feeling alone
    • Many feel they are the only person who has been through sexual assault or worry that others will judge or misunderstand them.
  • Telling someone might be harder if they are not out yet
    • LGBTQ people who have not yet come out to friends or family about their gender identity or sexual orientation may feel less able to disclose sexual assault.
  • Not finding support in some faith communities
    • Many survivors find strength and healing in their faith. Still, they may encounter difficulty finding the support they deserve if their faith community does not affirm their sexual orientation or gender identity.
    • (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), unspecified)1

Conclusion

It is an unfortunate reality that members of the LGBTQ community experience rape or sexual violence far more frequently than straight people. However, these stats show that one of the best ways to help prevent homophobia and sexual assault is through further education on the topic.

Footnotes

  1. Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), unspecified. An article on LGBT Survivors of Sexual Violence.
  2. The Human Rights Campaign, 2015. A US Transgender Survey of 27,715 respondents from all fifty states. The study methodology can be found here.
  3. The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS), 2010. A NISVS study of 10,081 completed interviews were conducted (5,758 women and 4,323 men) age 18 years and older. The study methodology can be found here. 
  4. Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs (WCSAP), 2004. A study cited by the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center.
  5. Violence and Victims, 1997. A study of 273 respondents (162 gay males and 111 lesbians)
  6. GLSEN National School Climate Survey, 2019. A study of 16,713 students between the ages of 13 and 21.
  7. The Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, 2020. An article citing the 2017 National Crime Victimization Survey of 239,541 persons who completed the household interview.
  8. Public Library of Science, PLOS ONE, 2013. A survey of 1000 lesbian, gay men, and bisexual women and men from randomly selected public venues in Italy.
  9. Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (barcc), 2006. A report from Cambridge Cares About AIDS TransCEND Program.
  10. Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (barcc), 2006. According to a 2001 study by Susan Fineran, PhD, LICSW, on Sexual minority students and peer sexual harassment in high school, Used as a reference by the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center.
  11. SAGE Publications, 1998. An article by Karen Franklin, Ph.D. Postdoctoral Fellow in Forensic Psychology.
  12. National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs(NCAVP), 2015. A report from the 1,976 reports of LGBTQ and HIV affected Intimate Partner Violence.
  13. Office for Victims of Crime, 2005. According to a 2005 study of 67 male-to-female (MtF) transgender persons.
  14. National Center for Transgender Equality, 2015. A5 US Transgender Survey of 27,715 respondents from all fifty states.
  15. Human Rights Campaign, 2020. A press release article from Human Rights Campaign.
  16. Human Rights Campaign, 2018. According to a 2018 study by the Human Rights Campaign of more than 12,000 LGBTQ teens.
  17. Trades Union Congress (TUC), 2018. A survey of 1,001 adult LGBT workers in Great Britain who had worked within the last five years.
  18. StoneWall, 2017. A survey of 5,375 LGBT people across England, Scotland, and Wales.
Dainis Graveris

Dainis Graveris

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