Over 50% of gay people in rural areas ‘feel compelled to move to urban areas’

More than half of gay people who have always lived in rural areas of feel more compelled to move to a more urban area, a new report in Northern Ireland has found.

Overall 43% of gay peoples’ decision to move was at least partly related to their sexual orientation and/or gender identity, the Rainbow Project found.

The report called Outstanding in your Field, exploring the needs of LGBT people in rural Northern Ireland, has been welcomed by the North’s Minister for Agriculture, Michelle O’Neill.

The report findings, she said, will be used to inform and develop policy areas in the North’s Department of Agriculture (DARD) and can be used by other government departments in the development of their policies.

Furthermore, the research found that gay people living in rural areas are less likely to be ‘out’ than those living in an urban area.

Gay people living in rural areas are also more likely to experience depression and less likely to seek help, than those living in urban areas.

Rural gay people are more likely to hear homophobic/transphobic language daily while at school/college.

A further one in four gay people heard homophobic language from teachers.

It found that gay people are less likely than their urban counterparts to have a gay service or organisation in their local area.

The report found that gay people in rural areas of the North are less likely to be ‘out’ in work and less likely to know someone else who is gay in their workplace.

Minister O’Neill said that DARD provided funding of £5,000 towards research aimed at exploring issues faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in rural areas of the North.

This, she said, was to see what their experiences are in terms of work place experiences, family life, accessing relevant healthcare and support services as well as the ability to be open about sexual orientation in the community.

“This is the first specific study of its kind and the report provides us with a great opportunity to examine how DARD, and other government departments, can address any issues of inequality and improve access to relevant services and support.

“I am fully committed to equality and my officials will continue to work closely with the Rainbow Project in taking forward key issues relevant to LGB&/T people especially when it comes to improving their quality of life in rural areas.”