Biphobia is hateful or offensive speech towards bisexual people and this week the CPS has announced that it will recognise the need to prosecute biphobic hate crimes specifically.
I’m delighted at this development, not just for myself and the other bisexuals out there but also for people like my girlfriend who have to endure disgusting slurs about their partners. My girlfriend has been told she’ll never be enough for me, that I will cheat on her and even that she’ll catch HIV by dating a bisexual man. The fact that people who have never met me feel they have a right to make my girlfriend doubt our relationship because of my sexuality is inexcusably a hate crime.
What many fail to recognise is that biphobia is a unique form of abuse, as with the comments my girlfriend receives you have to ask yourself would you be comfortable saying that about any other demographic? Would someone feel comfortable telling their friend she should leave her boyfriend because the colour of his skin means he’s more likely to cheat on her?
The same with what I experience, bisexual men are often told they are just gay. However would people feel comfortable constantly telling a gay man that he is straight? I’m also under far more scrutiny than others with people feeling they have a right to ask how many men I’ve slept with compared to women, believing they can use my sexual history against me to decide if it makes me straight or gay. I know many people may not think constantly having your sexuality and relationship scrutinised is that big of a deal but you only need to look at the research to see the effects this has.
The Office of National statistics recently looked in to the unique struggles of bisexuals in the U.K and found Bisexual people have a lower amount of overall life satisfaction and feel less worthwhile than straight, gay and lesbian people do, they were nearly 80% more likely to report feeling anxious than the average person and 40% more likely to describe themselves as unhappy. Surprisingly Bisexual men in the United Kingdom are also at the bottom of the wage scale, earning 30% less than gay colleagues according to the British Sociological Association.
However it is not just straight people that are guilty of biphobia, with significant amount of discrimination coming from gay men. The Journal of Bisexuality have suggested that bisexual people face just as much discrimination within the LGBT community as they do from straight people. In a similar study the Equality Network found the highest amounts of biphobia experienced are within LGBT and NHS services with 66% of Bisexuals only feeling “a little” or “not at all” part of the LGBT community.
I’d certainly say that in my experience gay people are the most likely to be biphobic. It’s rare to meet a gay man that doesn’t have something negative to say about bisexuality. I’ve had a lot of gay men tell me it’s time to accept my sexuality, to stop lying to myself and my girlfriend. I think for some gay men they struggle to see sexuality outside of their own experience. Many gay men will have called themselves bisexual before coming out as gay, they struggle to realise that’s not what every bisexual is doing.
It is one thing to condemn biphopia but should we be prosecuting it?
Despite being LGBT and a Bisexual Activist, I have as much of a problem with political correctness and policing free speech as anyone. I have no problem with people asking me questions about being bisexual and I do worry that sometimes important discussions aren’t had for fear of offending which I think always leaves the most venerable people worse off.
However, bisexuality has become a tolerated form of discrimination. People have no fear of bullying a bisexual for their orientation and that has to change. Perhaps this development by the CPS will serve as a catalyst to not only reassure bisexuals that they don’t have to suffer in silence but also to force others to reflect on the way they treat bisexuals.