As London’s 2023 New Year fireworks displays the ‘acceptance’ of LGBT+ individuals in England and the rest of the UK, it is easy to forget the true nature of what individuals have gone through to get to this point. To an onlooker, it may seem that the fight for equality is nearly over.
From the decriminalisation of sexual activity between men in 1967 to the legalisation of gay marriage in the in 2013, the fight for equality in the UK has been a consistent notion for over 55 years and continues to be so.
As we use this month to remember the individuals who fought for a voice throughout this period, we must not forget the current incidents that are undermining the LGBT+ right to equality. Most noteworthy recently, the government’s block of Scotland’s Gender Recognition Bill in January, which will remove the current overly bureaucratic ‘evidence’ needed for a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC).
While this is significant on a legal basis, it also continues to highlight the sustained anti-trans rhetoric pushed by the UK government and media spheres, continuing the invasive procedures that transgender individuals have to go through for recognition. This is sustained further through conversion therapy in regard to both gender and sexuality, and the back-and-forth discussion of its overdue banning. While there are current talks of this happening in autumn of this year, it has been met with caution and scepticism as it is not the first time that the government has promised such a thing (note the LBGT Action Plan in 2018). This banning is in urgent need, as 1 in 20 LGBT+ individuals have been pressured to access these ‘services’, with it increasing to 8% for disabled LGBT+ individuals and 9% for BAME LBGT+ individuals.
Therefore, there is no better time to find your voice and help continue to fight for LGBT+ rights than this LGBT+ History Month. The fight is far from over, no matter how many glamorous firework displays portray the opposite.
- Jade Rowe, LGBT+ Officer
- Ashton Mallard, Trans and Non-Binary Officer