Workplace Discrimination is Harmful to the Health of Gay, Bi, Queer and Trans Men

Many of us go to work without thinking about our sexualities or genders. We have safe working environments where we can be openly gay, bi, trans, or queer. Our job is not in jeopardy because of our identities. Maybe we take this for granted. But we shouldn’t. 

I recently published a study on workplace discrimination in the Annals of LGBTQ Public and Population Health with colleagues from CBRC and graduate students. We found that workplace discrimination is still experienced by 1 in 20 gay, bi, queer, and trans (GBTQ) men. 

We analyzed the 2015 Sex Now survey, which included responses of 7,872 GBTQ men from across Canada. We found that 6.5% experienced discrimination at work because of their sexuality in the past year. This is more than 1 in 20. Considering that GBTQ men represent 4% of all adult men in Canada, our results suggest that nearly 40,000 GBTQ men annually face discrimination in their workplace because they are gay, bisexual, trans, or queer.

We also found that men who had experienced workplace discrimination were at increased risk of intimate partner violence or to attempt suicide. Men who were discriminated against were less likely to report being healthy. Bottom line: workplace discrimination is harmful to our community, sometimes even causing death. 

More so, workplace discrimination affects some sub-groups of our community to a greater degree. Participants who identified as queer and trans, as well as Indigenous and Latino men, were at increased risk of discrimination.  

We need action

Workplace discrimination threatens GBTQ men’s ability to participate in the workforce and to make a living. We spend most of our waking hours at work and we have a right to feel safe in those environments. Our health depends on it.  

The current laws and protections in place are not enough. We urge all levels of government and employers across Canada to enact policies to combat homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia. 

To combat discrimination, employers also need to implement reporting systems for workplace discrimination that GBTQ employees feel safe accessing. Unfortunately, too many of us remain silent when we face discrimination because the mechanisms in place are not appropriate.    

Finally, as queer people, we need to feel less invisible in the workplace to combat stigma and discrimination. Employers can address this issue by providing opportunities for 2S/LGBTQ+ employees to connect and by improving the visibility of 2S/LGBTQ+ individuals and communities in the workplace.   

By Olivier Ferlatte

Olivier Ferlatte is an assistant professor at l’École de Santé Publique de l’Université de Montréal and a research scientist at the Centre de Recherche en Santé Publique (CRESP). He is the director of Qollab, a community-based and collaborative research lab promoting the participation of 2S/LGBTQIA+ people in research.


Disponible en français.


About CBRC

Community-Based Research Centre (CBRC) promotes the health of people of diverse sexualities and genders through research and intervention development.
Workplace Discrimination is Harmful to the Health of Gay, Bi, Queer and Trans Men
Workplace Discrimination is Harmful to the Health of Gay, Bi, Queer and Trans Men
Check out Community-Based Research Centre. I just joined.