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Two thirds of gays keep it a secret in workplace

TWO thirds of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in the workforce keep their sexuality secret from their colleagues.

Research by the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network has found that there are more than 300,000 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Ireland and about 130,000 of these are in the workforce.

They also found that almost 60pc of LGTB workers surveyed were not "out" in the workplace.

"Many feel being open about their sexual orientation with their colleagues could damage their career, promotion prospects or professional relationships," said Davin Roche, director of the Gay and Lesbian Network at the launch of an equality guide for employers.

"This is something we need to address and change as a society if we are to be truly competitive on a global scale."

Tanaiste Mary Coughlan, who launched the Workplace Diversity Guide, stressed that "openness to diversity including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people will be a critical part of our success as an advanced, competitive and smart global economy".

In a foreward to the guide, the Tanaiste highlighted the role of diversity in the economy saying that employers and trade unions needed to "come out" to their LGBT employees as offering positive and inclusive places to work.

"Diversity brings with it an openness to new ideas, more creative workforces and innovation, which is at the heart of where Ireland wants to be as a participant in the wider global economy," said the minister.

The new guide published by the Network has the backing of employers group IBEC, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, Business in the Community, the Equality Authority and IBM.