2020 marks the 15th LGBT History Month and since its inception in 2005, this has been a month of both reflection and action.
Over the last few years, we’ve made some amazing leaps for equality, including seeing same-sex marriage legalised in Northern Ireland just a few months ago. However, it is important to remember there is still a long way to go before we reach true equality.
Over the last few years, we’ve made some amazing leaps for equality
LGBT History Month is celebrated in February to coincide with the repeal of Section 28 of the Local Government Act. This was an abhorrent act which prohibited the so-called promotion of homosexuality. This law was not only discriminatory and homophobic, but it was also a massive step back in the fight for equality. We fought this act from the onset, and the work we put into getting it repealed is something we should all be proud of.
The repeal of Section 28 paved the way for civil partnerships in 2005, the Equality Act in 2010 and the passing of the Marriage (Same-sex Couples) Bill in 2013, amongst others. With the passing of each of these bills, we get closer to equal rights. As more rights are enshrined in law, we see a change in attitudes, and people becoming more accepting of the LGBT+ community.
While LGB rights are have moved forward, protections for the T part of the acronym are still far behind.
But we can’t sit back and congratulate ourselves quite yet. Attitudes may have come a long way in the last few years, but we still see news stories like the horrible attack on two lesbian women a bus simply because they are attracted to the same sex. Not to mention, homophobic bullying is still taking place in schools and rates of suicide, depression and anxiety disproportionately higher within the LGBT+ community. This is not good enough.
While LGB rights are have moved forward, protections for the T part of the acronym are still far behind. When the Liberal Democrats proposed a policy of self-identification, as a policy which allows trans people to live as themselves, it was criticised. This attitude of suspicion towards protections for trans people is one which will take time to overcome. But hopefully, as more rights become protected by law, these attitudes will shift.
As Liberal Democrats, we will continue our proud history of fighting for the rights of the entire LGBT+ community. We will be relentless and until true equality is achieved.
So, this month, let’s celebrate the battles we have won and reflect on why those battles were necessary. Let us be mindful that full equality has not yet been achieved and keep fighting until it is.