As this year’s LGBT History Month draws to a close it’s important that we reflect on LGBT history and what has already been achieved but also consider where the fight for LGBT equality goes next.
In a previous blog I reflected on the sense in parts of the LGBT community that equality has been achieved, that there is nothing left for us to do. The fact is that both legal and social equality remain a distant goal rather than a reality for so many LGBT members and our wider community, in the UK and around the world.
As I type this blog discussions continue around the Gender Recognition Act. This is the Act that allows transgender individuals to legally change their sex on their birth certificate and to achieve full recognition in their acquired sex in terms of UK legislation.
Two years ago the Westminster Women and Equalities Committee produced its Transgender Equality Report which contained over 30 recommendations on how the UK government could improve its policies in regards to the transgender community.
One of these was to improve the Gender Recognition Act, moving away from the current medicalised approach to one based more on a self declaration basis, offering greater dignity and personal autonomy to those seeking to legally amend their gender.
The Scottish government, at the time of writing, is just days away from closing their consultation on the issue, which looked at making the change recommended in 2016 as well as potentially introducing legal recognition for those who identify as non binary (a person who neither identifies as specifically male or female).
Despite several countries around the world already adopting such policy, the Westminster government seems to have decided to try to kick the matter into the long grass. It’s important that we support our Trans members and the wider Trans community and do not allow this to happen, and that we continue to push for greater equality across the whole of the UK for LGB and T members.
In Northern Ireland the Irish Congress of Trade Unions continues to campaign for marriage equality as part of the Love Equality campaign. Despite being introduced across England, Wales and Scotland almost a decade ago our members and Northern Ireland’s LGBT community continues to see same sex marriage blocked politically, despite majority support among the Northern Irish population.
As part of this year’s LGBT History Month, Love Equality, in partnership with Amnesty International, has launched a petition calling for an end to this situation through the Northern Ireland Assembly or, failing this, the Westminster government. You can help support the campaign by signing the petition.
In my last blog I highlighted that half of the countries which currently criminalise their LGBT population are part of the Commonwealth of Nations.
In 2022 many of these countries will be represented at the Commonwealth Games which will be taking place in Birmingham.
When the Games took place in Glasgow in 2014, LGBT equality played a key part of the message of the Games, including the first Pride House as part of a Commonwealth Games.
It’s important that we look at how these Games can be used to continue to campaign for greater equality and how we can support LGBT activists across the world in solidarity both within PCS and across the rest of the trade union movement before, during and after the Games.
Standing up for equality
On a more day to day level each of us must continue to stand up to homophobia, biphobia and transphobia, wherever we witness it.
Legal equality may not be perfect but it is improving, but meanwhile levels of hate crime continue to remain high, not just for LGBT people but across the board.
Our union’s Charter for Equality makes clear PCS’s position on equality. We all have a part to play in ensuring this becomes a reality for every single one of us. If you witness something, report it.
And if you’ve not already, join Proud, PCS’s LGBT members’ group, and help us to continue the fight for LGBT equality. Membership is open to all PCS members, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.