As June kicks off, you may notice a rainbow takeover. From online to your local high street, businesses, organizations, institutions, and services are showing their support for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, plus (LGBT+) community for Pride Month 2023.
This is a time to celebrate the progress that has been made for the LGBT+ community, and to continue to fight for equality. It’s also a time to remember the history of the LGBT+ rights movement, and to honour those who have fought and continue to fight for equality.
Let’s explore the history of Pride Month.
Pride Month started in the USA to commemorate the Stonewall riots that took place in June 1969, which advanced the LGBT+ civil rights movement in the USA. It highlights the ongoing pursuit of equal justice under the law for the LGBT+ community.
In the UK, although by 1970 homosexuality has been partly decriminalised by the Sexual Offences Act 1967, thousands of homosexual men were still targeted and convicted of other offences. No legal protection against discrimination existed.
On 27 November 1970 in Highbury Fields, the London Gay Liberation Front held its first demonstration, described as a ‘gay-in’, with fireworks and participants holding balloons and streamers. Often referred to as the ‘‘Pride before Pride”.
The first Pride march in the UK was held in London on 1 July 1972. The date was chosen to be the nearest Saturday to the anniversary of the Stonewall riots and it aimed to show that the LGBT+ community was proud, not ashamed, and to demand LGBT+ liberation in law.
It’s no longer illegal to be LGBT+, or classed as a mental health disorder (since 1992), and we have the Equalities Act 2010 that protects some, though not all of the LGBT+ community against discrimination. Same-sex marriage and LGBT+ people adoption is legal. Section 28 was repealed, and local authorities can talk about LGBT+ lives. In the 2021 Census LGBT+ people could self-identify for the first time. We have made major strides in terms of rights.
However, we still face many challenges, and rights that have been hard fought for can be taken away as we have seen in the USA with the barrage of anti LGBT+ legislation in many states. In Europe anti LGBT+ laws have been passed in Russia and Hungary, and in Africa most recently in Uganda.
In the UK, we have seen our ranking in terms of LGBT+ rights slip in the European rankings accessed by ILGA Europe, conversion therapy is still legal, LGBT+ hate crime has increased, as have attacks on education being inclusive of LGBT+ lives. Most worryingly we have seen continued attacks on the transgender and non-binary communities and a return to rhetoric last seen in the 1980s to justify Section 28. It’s fair to say for many of us that we are exhausted, frustrated at having our lives debated and concerned as to where this may lead.
As a sector, it’s important we show our support for the LGBT+ community, not only during Pride Month but throughout the rest of the year.
Housing associations play a vital role in providing safe and inclusive housing for the LGBT+ community.
In the UK we have a disproportionately high rate of youth LGBT+ homelessness, a lack of representation in senior leadership and board level and inadequate provision of housing for LGBT+ older people.
As a sector we can demonstrate our commitment to the LGBT+ community in many ways.
Here are a few ideas: