Standing beside the LGBTQ+ Community in the Fight for Equality: Acceptance without Exception
by Assistant Litigation Executive, Jessica Roberts
June is Pride month; 30 days dedicated to celebrating LGBTQ+ communities across the world. It is a time to come together and share love, friendship, advocacy and promotion of how far LGBTQ+ rights have come. In essence, Pride is about teaching tolerance, education in Pride history and continuing to move forward and stand together in the fight for equality.
An essential aspect of Pride calls for individuals to remember the damaging effect homophobia, biphobia and transphobia has on individuals and society. It calls for us to reflect upon the daily fight LGBTQ+ communities face, heterosexual privilege, institutional biases and how one can be a good ally by supporting equal civil rights, gender equality and social movements.
The Stonewall Riots took place in the context of broader civil rights movements. The Revolutionary People’s Constitutional Convention in 1970 was a key moment in which activists from Black Power, feminist and gay liberation movements came together, saw common cause and learned from each other. This paved the way for social reform and set the foundations for many of the rights we celebrate today. For instance, in the UK, the LGBTQ+ movement has won employment rights, parenting rights, partnership rights and equal age of consent. This we must applaud. However, we cannot fail to acknowledge that there is more work to be done. Despite victories in the name of equality, the LGBTQ+ community continue to face daily barriers that do not afford them the same equality that white, cisgender, heterosexual individuals enjoy.
The Stonewall Report
The Stonewall Report LGBT in Britain – Hate Crime and Discrimination highlighted the unacceptable levels of hate crime and discrimination that LGBTQ+ communities still face today. One in five LGBTQ+ people have experienced a hate crime or incident due to their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. What is more, access to justice is hindered as Stonewall reports 81% of those who have experienced a hate crime didn’t report it to the police. The report also found that 36% of LGBTQ+ people do not feel comfortable walking down the street while holding their partner’s hand. This increases to 58% within gay men.
These figures show that whilst policy change and law reform are fundamental in the progression and application of equal rights, some battles cannot be won solely within our legislative and judicial chambers. LGBTQ+ communities still face discrimination, fear and hate that results in physical, mental, and emotional harm and we must act to prevent this.
Supporting LGBTQ+ communities
I stand by Stonewall’s following recommendations for all individuals who want to fight against hate crime and discrimination directed towards the LGBTQ+ community:
Take a visible stand against LGBTQ+ hate crime, campaign and show your support for LGBTQ+ equality in all forms. Encourage your friends, family and colleagues to join campaigns and the wider movement.
Call out online abuse whenever you see it, so long as it is safe to do so. Support those being targeted by letting them know you are an ally.
Report incidents of homophobic, biphobic or transphobic discrimination you experience when accessing public services to the service provider so they can take action.
Pride month is a momentous occasion which allows the LGBTQ+ community and allies to stand together proudly and recognise all the achievements that have been obtained in the fight for equality. We must promote acceptance, education and equal treatment as individuals, and we cannot stop until everyone can be accepted for who they are – without exception.