By Reece Hobson-Adams, CSR Manager
This year is a significant year for the Pride movement and the LGBTQ+ community as we commemorate 50 years since the first Pride took place in the United Kingdom.
The theme for 2022 will commemorate the past 50 years and the evolution as a movement; acknowledging those torch bearers who have come before us and their achievements. As a gay man, Pride Month is an important month for me as we celebrate the progress made, but more importantly reflect on how that progress was made.
In the series of communications that we’re going to share over Pride Month, we’ll celebrate, recognise the challenges still faced by the LGBTQ+ community nationally and globally and give hope for the future.
What has changed in the U.K in the last 50 years? The proportion of the British public who say they approve of same-sex partnerships has soared over the past 30 years. 86% of the UK agreed that same sex relationships should be accepted by society, according to a 2019 Pew Research Centre poll.
This is due to changes in the law, such as in 1967 the decriminalisation of homosexual acts in private between two men, aged 21 in England and Wales. Societal attitudes changing played a big part, with the trend of social liberalisation amongst young people, who then over the last 50 years turned older and instilled these values in their children.
Legislation that has changed LGBTQ+ rights in the last 50 years: · 1980 & 1982 – Decriminalisation in Scotland and Northern Ireland
- 1994 – The age of consent for two male partners is lowered to 18
- 2000 – The ban on gay and bisexual people serving in the armed forces is lifted; the age of consent is equalised for same and opposite-sex partners at 16
- 2002 – Same-sex couples are given equal rights when it comes to adoption
- 2004 – A law allowing civil partnerships is passed
- 2007 – Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is banned
- 2010 – Gender reassignment is added as a protected characteristic in equality legislation
- 2014 – Same sex marriage becomes legal in England, Wales, and Scotland
- 2020 – The UK Government extends same-sex marriage to Northern Ireland, in the absence of the Northern Ireland Assembly.
Without this change in legislation and societal attitudes, I would not be able to openly live my life as my authentic self, a gay man. A recent piece of legislation that has made a difference to my life is same sex marriage coming into law in England. This allowed me on the 6th May 2022 to take the next step in our 7-year relationship and marry my now husband.
What challenges are still faced by our community nationally and globally?
There is a lot of progress to be celebrated, it doesn’t mean that we can rest on our laurels as there are still a lot of challenges faced by the LGBTQ+ community.
In the UK, homophobic and transphobic hate crimes reported to police in the UK rose sharply after lockdown restrictions eased, new data shows. However, this doesn’t give a full picture as a lot of hate crimes are not reported to the police.
Unfortunately, transgender, non-binary people and gender fluid people bare the biggest brunt of this hate, with 2 in 5 experiencing hate crime because of their gender identity in the last 12 months.
In 2021, I was the victim of a homophobic hate crime, three times, once actually during Manchester’s biggest weekend for the LGBTQ+ community; Manchester Pride. On all occasions, the perpetrators used homophobic language and tried to insult me, simply because I am gay. Luckily, I have a very thick skin, so it didn’t affect me, however that’s not the case for every LGBTQ+ person, especially young LGBTQ+ people.
It’s also really important to reference the hostile environment for Trans people in the UK. To be a Trans person (transgender, non-binary or gender queer) is to be debated, questioned and made to feel exhausted, almost on a daily basis.
For example, in the last few years, the question of should trans women be able to use women’s spaces is regularly debated, often without Trans people, even though this has been allowed legally since 2010 with the Equality Act, and no evidence that Trans women are a danger in women’s only spaces. There are also global issues for LGBTQ+ people, such as:
- 71 jurisdictions criminalise private, consensual, same-sex sexual activity for men.
- 43 jurisdictions criminalise private, consensual, same-sex sexual activity for women.
- 11 jurisdictions in which the death penalty is imposed or at least a possibility for private, consensual same-sex sexual activity.
- 15 jurisdictions criminalise the gender identity and/or expression of transgender people, using so-called ‘cross-dressing’, ‘impersonation’ and ‘disguise’ laws.
- The Chechen Republic (Russia) routinely abducts gay men and sends to concentration camps.
However, there is progress being made across the globe, with legislation being proposed in the following countries to reverse the criminalisation of same sex relations:
- Saint Lucia (expected by 2023)
- Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
What is my hope for LGBTQ+ community in the next 50 years?
In an ideal world, every country or territory in the next 50 years will have no anti-LGBTQ+ laws, allow same-sex marriage and Trans people to self-identify with all the legal protections afforded. However, I need to be realistic. That unfortunately won’t happen in 50 years, or even the next 100 years. It will be slow progress at best, however slow progress is still progress.
As a minimum, I would like to see as many countries as possible to remove legislation that criminalises same-sex relationships and gender identity and expression. There are countries that have anti-LGBTQ+ laws on their books, but are unenforced such as Singapore, Pakistan, and Lebanon. These would be the best places to kickstart a domino effect across the globe to stop criminalising people for who they love or for living as their authentic selves.