Looking back to move forward for LGBT equality

During LGBT History Month, Kris looks at the impact of the anti-LGBT legislation Section 28 of the Local Government Act.

1988. An important year as we enter LGBT History Month as it marks a significant milestone for LGBT equality and the UK’s LGBT community. It was the year that saw the last piece of truly anti-LGBT legislation introduced by a UK government, Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative Party’s, Section 28.

Section 28 of the Local Government Act stated that a local authority "shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality" or "promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship".

It was a horrific piece of legislation, fueled by a mass-media driven moral panic that left many young LGBT people in schools subjected to years of bullying and harassment with teachers unable to do anything about it for fear of losing their jobs.

Thirty years on, many of the legal obstacles that existed for LGBT people in 1988 have been consigned to the history books where they belong: Section 28, an unequal age of consent, LGBT military ban to name just a few. In their place we’ve seen advances such as the Gender Recognition Act, the Equality Act, civil partnerships and eventually same sex marriage.

However Proud, our union’s LGBT members’ group, recognises that for all the achievements our community has had over the past three decades there is still a job to do.

For our LGBT members in Northern Ireland the choice to marry their partner continues to be prevented politically. Across the UK many in the transgender community are campaigning for improvements in gender recognition legislation and greater protections for those within the wider trans and non-binary communities.

But our challenge goes beyond legislation. Discrimination remains an almost daily occurrence for many of our members in the workplace and in local communities. Rates of poor mental health remain disproportionately higher among the LGBT community, much of it linked to the LGBT phobia of the past and so many young people growing up in such a poisonous environment.

Proud encourages all members to get involved this LGBT History Month, engaging with their branch to promote Proud and LGBT equality. We’ve produced a number of downloadable resources to help you.

We’ll also be posting a range of blogs throughout February to highlight some of the issues facing the LGBT community in the UK and around the world as part of this year’s LGBT History Month.

Proud is open to all PCS members, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Sign up today.

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