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OPEN AND SAFE AT WORK? BETWEEN UNCOMFORTABLE PRIVACY AND UNDECIDED/HOMOPHOBIC PUBLIC Dr. Artūras Tereškinas Vytautas Magnus University and Vilnius University.

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Presentation on theme: "OPEN AND SAFE AT WORK? BETWEEN UNCOMFORTABLE PRIVACY AND UNDECIDED/HOMOPHOBIC PUBLIC Dr. Artūras Tereškinas Vytautas Magnus University and Vilnius University."— Presentation transcript:

1 OPEN AND SAFE AT WORK? BETWEEN UNCOMFORTABLE PRIVACY AND UNDECIDED/HOMOPHOBIC PUBLIC Dr. Artūras Tereškinas Vytautas Magnus University and Vilnius University

2 EQUAL project Open and Safe at Work National Partners: Office of the Equal Opportunities Ombudsman Office of the Equal Opportunities Ombudsman Lithuanian Gay League (LGL) Lithuanian Gay League (LGL) Vytautas Magnus University Vytautas Magnus University Gaumina Ltd. Gaumina Ltd. European Social, Legal and Economic Projects European Social, Legal and Economic Projects Center for Equality Advancement Center for Equality AdvancementObjectives: Explore discrimination and homophobia from the point of view of Lithuanian LGBT people (interviews with LGBT people) Explore discrimination and homophobia from the point of view of Lithuanian LGBT people (interviews with LGBT people) Analyze public opinion of the Lithuanian population towards LGBT people (representative survey of public opinion) Analyze public opinion of the Lithuanian population towards LGBT people (representative survey of public opinion) Reduce homophobia, discrimination and intolerance in the workplace (policy analysis and recommendations) Reduce homophobia, discrimination and intolerance in the workplace (policy analysis and recommendations)

3 The Scope of the Conducted Research Two-fold research: Sociologists of Vytautas Magnus University conducted 40 interviews with Lithuanian gays and lesbians (32 recorded by dictaphone and 8 documented by written notes because informants refused to be recorded). The informants lived in Vilnius, Kaunas, Šiauliai and Druskininkai. The age of informants ranges from 21 to 55 years. For this presentation I will use the material of 32 recorded interviews available for me. From 32 respondents, 22 were males, 10 females. Sociologists of Vytautas Magnus University conducted 40 interviews with Lithuanian gays and lesbians (32 recorded by dictaphone and 8 documented by written notes because informants refused to be recorded). The informants lived in Vilnius, Kaunas, Šiauliai and Druskininkai. The age of informants ranges from 21 to 55 years. For this presentation I will use the material of 32 recorded interviews available for me. From 32 respondents, 22 were males, 10 females. On July 13-16, 2006, Market and Opinion Research Centre "Vilmorus Ltd." conducted a representative survey Discrimination against Various Social Groups Lithuanians from different regions and cities of Lithuania participated in this survey. On July 13-16, 2006, Market and Opinion Research Centre "Vilmorus Ltd." conducted a representative survey Discrimination against Various Social Groups Lithuanians from different regions and cities of Lithuania participated in this survey.

4 Preliminary Findings of the Conducted Research: Issues to be discussed today Can Lithuanian gays and lesbians have a public identity at work? Can Lithuanian gays and lesbians have a public identity at work? Do they experience discrimination in the workplace? Do they experience discrimination in the workplace? What types of discrimination are most visible? What types of discrimination are most visible? How does the Lithuanian public view gays and lesbians in the context of other social groups? How does the Lithuanian public view gays and lesbians in the context of other social groups? How does the Lithuanian public treat homosexuals at work? How does the Lithuanian public treat homosexuals at work?

5 Part I. COMING OUT IN THE WORKPLACE: IS THERE A COMFORTABLE PRIVACY? 1. Hiding identities: 1. Hiding identities: The range of the respondents professional occupations in the sample was very broad: from a hairstylist to a university teacher, a shop owner, a lawyer, an interior designer, a teacher of music, a researcher, a waiter, a bartender, a computer salesman, a post- office worker, a journalist, a businessman and a businesswoman, a croupier, a manager of cultural projects, a physician, a worker at the Lithuanian AIDS centre and a head of the department of the Secret Investigation Service of Lithuania (STT). The range of the respondents professional occupations in the sample was very broad: from a hairstylist to a university teacher, a shop owner, a lawyer, an interior designer, a teacher of music, a researcher, a waiter, a bartender, a computer salesman, a post- office worker, a journalist, a businessman and a businesswoman, a croupier, a manager of cultural projects, a physician, a worker at the Lithuanian AIDS centre and a head of the department of the Secret Investigation Service of Lithuania (STT). Most homosexuals still hide their identity in the workplace. It is a context in which they most often conceal their sexual orientation. Only about 1/3 of the respondents were open at work. 2 were relatively open, i. e. one or several co-workers knew about their sexual orientation. One respondent said that she was not open but would tell about herself if her co-workers asked. Most homosexuals still hide their identity in the workplace. It is a context in which they most often conceal their sexual orientation. Only about 1/3 of the respondents were open at work. 2 were relatively open, i. e. one or several co-workers knew about their sexual orientation. One respondent said that she was not open but would tell about herself if her co-workers asked. Most respondents attempt to enact the accepted norms of masculinity and femininity at work by controlling their appearance, dress, gestures and informal communication. Most respondents attempt to enact the accepted norms of masculinity and femininity at work by controlling their appearance, dress, gestures and informal communication. You must constantly play the role in your family and at work... (Egidijus, 24 y. o.). You must constantly play the role in your family and at work... (Egidijus, 24 y. o.). I accepted myself but I had to pretend sometimes... For instance, to invent stories about my adventures with women [at work], etc. (28 y. o. Marius). I accepted myself but I had to pretend sometimes... For instance, to invent stories about my adventures with women [at work], etc. (28 y. o. Marius).

6 COMING OUT IN THE WORKPLACE: IS THERE A COMFORTABLE PRIVACY? (continued) 2. Openness vs. secrecy: The male respondents of feminized professions such as stylists, designers, hairstylists, shop assistants were most willing to disclose their orientation. The male respondents of feminized professions such as stylists, designers, hairstylists, shop assistants were most willing to disclose their orientation. It is easier for homosexual men to affirm their identity in female-dominated areas since women are less homophobic and more accepting of gays and lesbians than men It is easier for homosexual men to affirm their identity in female-dominated areas since women are less homophobic and more accepting of gays and lesbians than men More gay men were closeted and described anticipated discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation in typically male-dominated organizations which promote traditional masculinity such as the Secret Investigation Service of Lithuania (STT) or private business enterprises. More gay men were closeted and described anticipated discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation in typically male-dominated organizations which promote traditional masculinity such as the Secret Investigation Service of Lithuania (STT) or private business enterprises. People who work in smaller organizations are also more open about themselves than those from larger companies. People who work in smaller organizations are also more open about themselves than those from larger companies. Most frequently respondents avoided to reveal their orientation at work because it involved two-fold risks: their coming out might not only worsen their relationships with their co-workers but also make them leave their jobs because of the increased tensions and discrimination. Most frequently respondents avoided to reveal their orientation at work because it involved two-fold risks: their coming out might not only worsen their relationships with their co-workers but also make them leave their jobs because of the increased tensions and discrimination.

7 COMING OUT IN THE WORKPLACE: IS THERE A COMFORTABLE PRIVACY? (continued) 3. Dynamics between direct and indirect discrimination: The respondents more frequently encountered various forms of indirect or informal discrimination than direct discrimination. The respondents more frequently encountered various forms of indirect or informal discrimination than direct discrimination. Some gays and lesbians experienced constant verbal violence, insults and ridicule directed towards them. Derisive jokes about gays and lesbians at work. Some gays and lesbians experienced constant verbal violence, insults and ridicule directed towards them. Derisive jokes about gays and lesbians at work. The growing distance among them and colleagues after their coming out. In Rimas (36 y. o.) words, This communication [at work] took place as if I didnt exist, as if I did not participate in this party [of my co-workers]. And you felt some kind of silent, passive but nonetheless rejection… The growing distance among them and colleagues after their coming out. In Rimas (36 y. o.) words, This communication [at work] took place as if I didnt exist, as if I did not participate in this party [of my co-workers]. And you felt some kind of silent, passive but nonetheless rejection… Direct or formal discrimination was infrequent. However, some instances of this discrimination, namely the obstruction of promotion and firing from their jobs, occurred among the respondents. 28-year-old Aurimas who currently works at the Lithuanian AIDS centre had to leave a couple of his previous jobs because his co- workers found out that he was gay. Direct or formal discrimination was infrequent. However, some instances of this discrimination, namely the obstruction of promotion and firing from their jobs, occurred among the respondents. 28-year-old Aurimas who currently works at the Lithuanian AIDS centre had to leave a couple of his previous jobs because his co- workers found out that he was gay. Problem: a large part of the respondents did not consider indirect discrimination such as jokes about gays and lesbians as discriminatory. Problem: a large part of the respondents did not consider indirect discrimination such as jokes about gays and lesbians as discriminatory.

8 COMING OUT IN THE WORKPLACE: IS THERE A COMFORTABLE PRIVACY? (continued) 4. Private (secret)/public divide: The interviewed gays and lesbians drew the clear and rigorous lines between the private and public: The interviewed gays and lesbians drew the clear and rigorous lines between the private and public: Private life is private… what I mean is that [sexual] orientation is not problematic. But the most important thing is not to show it publicly because Lithuania still remains Lithuania, a country of villagers… (24 y. o. Albertas). Private life is private… what I mean is that [sexual] orientation is not problematic. But the most important thing is not to show it publicly because Lithuania still remains Lithuania, a country of villagers… (24 y. o. Albertas). I would like to say that there is no need to publicize everything because even without it we have difficult lives… (30 y. o. Giedrius). I would like to say that there is no need to publicize everything because even without it we have difficult lives… (30 y. o. Giedrius). Paulius (25 y. o.) wanted to live quietly: Essentially, I dont want to reveal what I am... I mean it is easier for me than to other gays because I am not campy or mannered. I am just a guy... And I live how I want to live. But I dont publicize [my orientation] because I dont need unnecessary problems... It is so good to live quietly... Paulius (25 y. o.) wanted to live quietly: Essentially, I dont want to reveal what I am... I mean it is easier for me than to other gays because I am not campy or mannered. I am just a guy... And I live how I want to live. But I dont publicize [my orientation] because I dont need unnecessary problems... It is so good to live quietly... It is a pity that I cant show everything what and who I am in reality without being afraid of scorn and derision. But if I cant do it, I cant. I got used to it (33 y. o. Viktoras). It is a pity that I cant show everything what and who I am in reality without being afraid of scorn and derision. But if I cant do it, I cant. I got used to it (33 y. o. Viktoras).

9 Part II. The representative survey Discrimination Against Various Social Groups [in Lithuania] 1. In your opinion, which of the following groups are most discriminated in our society?

10 Part II. The representative survey Discrimination Against Various Social Groups [in Lithuania] (Continued) 2. Distribution of opinions about the discrimination of homosexuals according to age. In your opinion, which of the following groups are most discriminated in our society? (homosexuals)

11 Part II. The representative survey Discrimination Against Various Social Groups [in Lithuania] (Continued) 3. More people with high school and special education (about 31 %) and university education (29%) than with unfinished high school education (only about 18 %) thought that homosexuals are discriminated in Lithuania

12 Part II. The representative survey Discrimination Against Various Social Groups [in Lithuania] (Continued) 4. Predictable distribution of opinions according to social position. To the same question In your opinion, which of the following groups are most discriminated in our society? (homosexuals) people of different strata responded the following way:

13 Part II. The representative survey Discrimination Against Various Social Groups [in Lithuania] (Continued) 5. Attitudes towards homosexual co-workers. How would you react if you found out that your female co-worker was lesbian: How would you react if you found out that your female co-worker was lesbian:

14 Part II. The representative survey Discrimination Against Various Social Groups [in Lithuania] (Continued) 6. Attitudes towards homosexual co-workers. How would you react if you found out that your male co-worker was gay: How would you react if you found out that your male co-worker was gay:

15 Part II. The representative survey Discrimination Against Various Social Groups [in Lithuania] (Continued) 7. If I found out that my neighbors were gays. 8. If I found out that my neighbors were lesbians.

16 Part II. The representative survey Discrimination Against Various Social Groups [in Lithuania] (Continued) 9. I agree with the laws that defend homosexual people in the workplace

17 Part II. The representative survey Discrimination Against Various Social Groups [in Lithuania] (Continued) 10. Homosexual persons should not work in a police

18 Part II. The representative survey Discrimination Against Various Social Groups [in Lithuania] (Continued) 11. Homosexual persons should not work at schools 11. Homosexual persons should not work at schools

19 Part II. The representative survey Discrimination Against Various Social Groups [in Lithuania] (Continued) 12. Respondents had to answer 16 statements about homosexuals, the legal provisions for homosexual people and their opportunities in the labor market (paradoxical and contradictory responses)

20 Part II. The representative survey Discrimination Against Various Social Groups [in Lithuania] (Continued) AgreecompletelyAgree Neither agree nor disagree Disagree Completely disagree NTotal Homosexual persons must have the same opportunities in the labor market as heterosexuals % I would be afraid if my childrens teacher was homosexual % Laws prohibiting homosexual relations could decrease the number of homosexuals in society % A thought about homosexual relations between men makes me sick %

21 Part II. The representative survey Discrimination Against Various Social Groups [in Lithuania] (Continued) AgreecompletelyAgree Neither agree nor disagree Disagree Completely disagree NTotal A thought about homosexual relations between women makes me sick % Homosexuals should be treated medically % I would not like to belong to any organizations which accepts homosexual members % Gays and lesbians should have a right to adopt children % Same-sex marriage should be legalized %

22 Part III. CONCLUSIONS: HOMOSEXUALS LIMITED RIGHT TO PUBLIC IDENTITIES AMONG HOMOPHOBIC PUBLIC The closet is still, to use Eve Kosofsky Sedgwicks words, the fundamental feature of social life (Kosofsky Sedgwick 1990: 68) for most Lithuanian gays and lesbians. It still shapes their lives. The closet is still, to use Eve Kosofsky Sedgwicks words, the fundamental feature of social life (Kosofsky Sedgwick 1990: 68) for most Lithuanian gays and lesbians. It still shapes their lives. The largest part of the discussed gays embrace a politics of privatization that offers them both property value and an affirmation of identity in a language of respectability and mainstream acceptance (Warner 1999: 164). The largest part of the discussed gays embrace a politics of privatization that offers them both property value and an affirmation of identity in a language of respectability and mainstream acceptance (Warner 1999: 164). The public is still exclusive of homosexuality: it incorporates lesbians and gay men only in certain respects and contexts. Therefore, passing as heterosexual in the public sphere is still a way of life for the interviewed gays and lesbians. The public is still exclusive of homosexuality: it incorporates lesbians and gay men only in certain respects and contexts. Therefore, passing as heterosexual in the public sphere is still a way of life for the interviewed gays and lesbians. The dominance of heteronormativy forces gays and lesbians to adopt traditional heterosexual norms of behavior particularly at their jobs. Afraid of open discrimination, ridicule and violence, most interviewed gays and lesbians prefer to stay in the closet. The dominance of heteronormativy forces gays and lesbians to adopt traditional heterosexual norms of behavior particularly at their jobs. Afraid of open discrimination, ridicule and violence, most interviewed gays and lesbians prefer to stay in the closet. The repression and policing of sexualities labelled as aberrant still play a significant role in politics and everyday life in Lithuania. The repression and policing of sexualities labelled as aberrant still play a significant role in politics and everyday life in Lithuania.

23 Part III. CONCLUSIONS: HOMOSEXUALS LIMITED RIGHT TO PUBLIC IDENTITIES AMONG THE HOMOPHOBIC PUBLIC The representative survey of the Lithuanian population presents rather contradictory results: The representative survey of the Lithuanian population presents rather contradictory results: On the one hand, 28 % of population acknowledges that homosexuals are discriminated against in Lithuania. 42 % agrees that laws should defend homosexual persons from discrimination at work. On the one hand, 28 % of population acknowledges that homosexuals are discriminated against in Lithuania. 42 % agrees that laws should defend homosexual persons from discrimination at work. On the other hand, asked to answer concrete questions, Lithuanians fall back onto homophobic perceptions: 50 % thinks that homosexuals should not work in a police (27 % are undecided) and even 69 % of Lithuanians think that homosexuals should not work at schools. On the other hand, asked to answer concrete questions, Lithuanians fall back onto homophobic perceptions: 50 % thinks that homosexuals should not work in a police (27 % are undecided) and even 69 % of Lithuanians think that homosexuals should not work at schools. Responses to other questions and statements also demonstrate high level of intolerance and prejudice. Responses to other questions and statements also demonstrate high level of intolerance and prejudice.

24 For more information about the project, see: For more information about the project, see:


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