Every year LGBT+ History Month takes place in February across the UK. This annual campaign was created in 2005, as a means of raising awareness and celebrating the lives and history of the LGBT+ community. The Welsh Government want to make Wales an inclusive country in which people from all backgrounds are welcomed. This annual campaign provides an opportunity to enable the rich diversity of LGBT+ people to be visible, safe and proud.
This month long celebration was a response to the abolishment of Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988. This clause in the Act banned the ‘promotion’ of homosexuality by local authorities and in Britain’s schools. LGBT+ History Month was established by the educational charity Schools Out UK, to promote the welfare of LGBT people, especially young people within the education system to enable them to achieve their full potential.
Although we’ve come a long way, there’s is still work to be done. The Equality Act 2010 protects people from discrimination in the workplace and in wider society. Under this Act, it is against the law to discriminate against anyone because of their sexual orientation or gender reassignment. However, in 2018 Stonewall Cymru figures show that more than a third of LGBT workers in Wales hide their sexuality over fears of discrimination.
Every year, the UK Government releases police data on hate crime. The 2018/19 statistics highlight a 25% increase in reported homophobic hate crimes from 11,592 incidents to 14,491. Gender reassignment hate crime was up 37%, from 1703 to 2333. As in previous years, sexual orientation hate crime was the second most commonly recorded hate crime in the vast majority of Police forces (38 of 44). Stonewall Cymru note how 4 in 5 LGBT people who experience hate crime do not report it to Police and that a third of LGBT people (30%) avoid certain streets because they do not feel safe there.
For this year’s campaign we are very grateful to receive the valuable input of the North Wales LGBT Social Group. They explained how hate crime and feeling isolated in the region remains a very real concern. Members also highlighted a lack of social activities, visibility and support groups, especially for younger people. Please find attached some of their members’ lived experiences of living in North Wales. Anyone who is interested in joining the group and attending events in the region, please feel free to join their Facebook page!
Conwy County Borough Council’s Portfolio holder for modernisation which includes Equality & Diversity, Emma Leighton-Jones said: “LGBT History Month is important for commemorating individual losses and celebrating collective achievements. It is a festival of equality, but sometimes events around the World act as a warning not to become too comfortable - we still see fierce hostility and acts of hatred around the World, as well as tangible obstructions to LGBT rights. In eliminating prejudice, education is paramount and an aim of LGBT History month is to ‘educate out prejudice’ whilst ‘celebrating the diversity of society as a whole’. Our schools and allies play a major part in providing help and advice to our young people. Is there more to do in modern society? Yes, and we can all play a greater part by being visible and communicating the importance of diversity. We can share experiences, whether it be a blog on what LGBT History Month means or sharing role models and their stories. We can be interested and attentive and attend sessions on LGBT History Month, taking part in its webinars, ensure mentoring programmes are available and learn something new. We all have a role to play in creating a more diverse society.”
If you experience or witness homophobic or transphobic hate crime please contact North Wales Police on 101 (999 in an emergency) or report to the Victim Support National Hate Crime Support and Reporting Centre on their FREE 24 hour helpline on 0300 30 31 982 or online at www.reporthate.victimsupport.org.uk
For further information on LGBT History Month 2020, please contact:
Lived Experiences (Word)