Two-thirds of LGBTQ+ Brits avoid holding hands with their partners over safety fears

LGBTQ+ couple holding hands

Research has shown that a clear majority of British LGBTQ+ people have avoided holding hands with their partners in public in the last year, out of fear of a negative reaction. 

The study, conducted by Pride Wide in collaboration with Barefoot Wine, surveyed 1,063 LGBTQ+ people in the UK between 22 September and 9 October 2023. 

It found just over three-quarters of people (67 per cent) have avoided holding hands in the past 12 months, for fear of a negative response.

This finding comes amid rising LGBTQ+ hate crime rates across the UK and follows a number of high profile hate crime incidents, including a lesbian couple being harassed on the London Underground, Drag Race UK star Pixie Polite being threatened with a “whisky bottle stabbing” and the attack on two men outside the Two Brewers in Clapham

In the summer, queer people told PinkNews how they are now hiding their identities in public out of fear of being violently attacked on the street.  

“It even comes down to rainbow socks,” podcast host and comedian James Barr said. “I’ll be really nervous to put rainbow socks on. I don’t even know why. You just think, I don’t want to give someone an excuse.”

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The research also found that of those surveyed, they reported feeling loved (51 per cent), proud (48 per cent) and in-sync or connected (43 per cent) when holding hands. 

However, holding hands also made some feel self-conscious (33 per cent), anxious (30 per cent) and unsafe (23 per cent).

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Alongside this, eight in 10 LGBTQ+ people (83 per cent) agreed that hand holding can be a powerful act of visibility and nearly half (43 per cent) said they feel validated and safer when they see others holding hands.

A huge 85 per cent also said they want to see more LGBTQ+ people holding hands in public.

Commenting on the research, Scott Nunn – co-founder and creative director of Pride Wide – said: “Hand-holding is as old as humanity itself and is something many people don’t think twice about. 

“But a worrying number of LGBTQIA+ people sometimes have to question whether they should hold someone’s hand. 

“Our survey gives new insights into why holding hands is so important and we will use the results to promote a Britain where everyone can hold hands with confidence.”

Recent Home Office data shows that to the year ending March 2022, sexual orientation hate crimes in England and Wales rose by 41 per cent, to 26,152 cases – the largest such increase since records began in 2012.

Transgender hate crime was also up in England and Wales, with an increase of 56 per cent to 4,355 incidents.

Anyone who has witnessed or experienced a hate crime is urged to call the police on 101, Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or visit the True Vision website. In an emergency, always dial 999.

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