Groundbreaking Report Unveils Discrimination and Harassment Faced by LGBTQ+ Musicians in the UK

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

In a significant revelation that has stirred the UK music industry, the 2023 Musicians’ Census, conducted by the Musicians’ Union (MU) and Help Musicians, in collaboration with Come Play with Me (CPWM), has brought to light the pervasive discrimination and harassment that LGBTQ+ musicians endure. The report, titled "LGBTQ+ Musicians Still Impacted by Discrimination and Harassment," uncovers the disproportionate challenges these artists face, particularly highlighting the plight of transgender musicians.

Published on February 7, 2024, the findings indicate that over a third of LGBTQ+ musicians (37%) have witnessed or been subjected to discrimination due to their sexuality, and a staggering 50% of trans musicians reported discrimination based on gender identity. Despite these high rates, less than 30% of such instances are reported, pointing to an alarming culture of silence and fear of retribution within the industry.

Sexual harassment emerges as another grave concern, with almost half of the LGBTQ+ respondents (44%) experiencing or observing it firsthand. This harassment has profound implications on their careers, affecting their ability to work and progress within their field, yet only a minority of victims come forward to report these violations.

The report also sheds light on the mental and physical wellbeing of LGBTQ+ musicians, revealing that a significant number suffer due to the discrimination they face. Poor mental wellbeing is reported by 43% of LGBTQ+ musicians, a figure that correlates strongly with experiences of discrimination and harassment.

Addressing the financial disparities, the research highlights a concerning pay gap between LGBTQ+ musicians and their non-LGBTQ+ counterparts, with trans musicians facing an even wider gap. This financial insecurity is compounded by barriers to career progression, with many LGBTQ+ musicians struggling to sustain a living from their art.

The repercussions of Brexit on the UK music industry were not overlooked, with several musicians voicing concerns about the challenges of touring and the economic impact on the live music sector in both the UK and Europe.

Despite these challenges, there's a silver lining: the majority of LGBTQ+ musicians remain hopeful about their future in the industry, with over 80% believing they will still be working in music in the next five years. This optimism is a testament to the resilience and passion of LGBTQ+ artists in the face of adversity.

In response to these findings, the MU and Help Musicians, alongside CPWM, are calling for immediate action to tackle these issues head-on. Naomi Pohl, MU General Secretary, emphasized the need for the music industry to come together to create a safer, more inclusive environment for LGBTQ+ musicians. The report acts as a catalyst for change, urging industry leaders to address discrimination and harassment as urgent priorities.

John Shortell, MU Head of Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion, further stressed the commitment to making the music industry a diverse and equitable place for all. Through collaboration and concerted efforts, there's hope that the industry can overcome these barriers, ensuring that LGBTQ+ musicians can thrive without fear of discrimination or harassment.

As the UK music industry grapples with these revelations, the report stands as a critical call to action, urging stakeholders to reflect on their practices and work towards a more inclusive and equitable future for LGBTQ+ musicians.