Documenting and reporting sexual orientation discrimination

The “model” questionnaire

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3. The “model” questionnaire
The standard questionnaire is attached. It covers physical violence and psychological harassment, discrimination at work, and in housing, the health services, other services, and faith institutions. It also includes questions on social attitudes and the family.
There are many questions that address (directly or indirectly) whether or not a person is open about their sexual orientation. This is most important: research in many countries shows that a very significant proportion of LGB people conceal their sexual orientation either all, or some, of the time. This greatly reduces the risk of individual acts of discrimination. It also means that the real level of discrimination is much higher then the survey results suggest. So questions about whether respondents are open about their sexual orientation should be retained - without these, responses lose much of their significance.
In the questionnaire space has been left for respondents to describe the incidents that they have experienced. This information is most important, and numerous examples of the incidents should be included in the report. So design the questionnaire form with plenty of space for this information. Even where these data are not analysed in the report, they are still vital in putting a human face to the statistics, both for key audiences such as politicians, and particularly for the media.
The time period covered by the questionnaire requires careful consideration, and will depend on the purpose of the project. In the model questionnaire we suggest limiting the information to events in the last two years, so that the results present an up-to-date picture. A much longer time frame, for example, 10 years, might result in the criticism that, with the rapid development of social attitudes, the information does not represen the current situation and does not justify the changes called for. Another factor is that, the further back events are, the more difficulty respondents will have in remembering them accurately..

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