Religious parents more than twice as likely to respond badly when an LGBT+ child comes out

  • 70% of kids whose parents reject them struggle with anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts.
Naz and Matt.

LGBT+ people with religious or ‘conservative’ parents are 2.5 times more likely to face rejection when they come out.

Moreover, 70% of people whose parents react negatively suffer from anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts.

Those are the main findings of a new survey by the Naz & Matt Foundation. Matt Mahmood-Ogston set up the charity after his fiancé Naz died by suicide. Naz’s Muslim parents had confronted him about his sexuality shortly before.

However, the survey does show that most people’s parents do accept their sexuality.

Indeed, only 25% of people from a religious or conservative background said their parents were negative when they came out. Moreover, that falls to just 10% of people whose parents aren’t religious or ‘conservative’. Others parents may have been positive, neutral or not responded.

Mahmood-Ogston said: ‘Homophobia triggered by religious or culturally conservative families is widespread.

‘We commissioned this new survey to better understand the challenges LGBTQI+ people face and the sometimes devastating impact it has on their mental health.’

Less likely to be out

The researchers found that LGBT+ people from a religious or culturally conservative background are 30% less likely to be out to their parents or families compared to other LGBT+ people in the UK.

Indeed, 27% said they didn’t come out because they feared disappointing their parents. Moreover 23% feared anger and aggression and 19% worried their parents would disown them.

These fears appear to be well-founded. Of those who did come out and had a negative reaction, 43% faced anger and 13% received abuse.

Meanwhile COVID-19 had taken a toll on many LGBT+ people’s mental health. And this survey again confirms that trend.

It found that LGBT+ people from religious or culturally conservative families in lockdown with those families are more likely to have hidden their true identity.

Spreading hope

The foundation wants families to stand with them for their Out and Proud Parents’ Day on Thursday (30 July).

In particular, they want parents who are proud of their LGBT+ children to share their pride on social media. 

Mahmood-Ogston said: ‘We want parents to post photos, videos and messages that show their love for their LGBTQI+ child using the hashtag #OutAndProudParentsDay.

‘In doing so they may help provide the vital reassurance and confidence needed for more religious and culturally conservative parents to learn how to accept their children.’

Help is out there

If you need help or advice, just reach out. You can find a list of LGBT+ resources and helplines all around the world here. Please note, some of the helplines may have different operating hours during the pandemic.