This month takes a look at LGBT rights across the world in 2019 – and how, sadly, persecution is still part of the daily life of a member of the LGBT+ community.
A brief history of LGBT rights in the United Kingdom & Why we celebrate and recognise Pride
The Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885 UK made any homosexual act illegal. The Act became better known as the Blackmailer’s Charter as it was so ambiguous, even a letter between two male friends showing a sign of affection could bring prosecution.
It wasn’t until 1967 that the UK Government implemented recommendations from a report written nearly a decade prior, resulting in the Sexual Offences Act 1967. This legalised same-sex acts in the UK between men over the age of 21.
The month of June was chosen for LGBT Pride Month to commemorate the Stonewall riots; a series of spontaneous, violent demonstrations by members of the gay community against regular & violent police raids which occurred at the end of June 1969 at the Stonewall Inn, NYC . Police raids on gay bars were routine in the 1960s.
The Stonewall Riots were followed by several days of demonstrations in New York and was the driver for the formation of the Gay Liberation Front as well as other gay, lesbian and bisexual civil rights organisations. It's also regarded by many as history's first major protest on behalf of equal rights for homosexuals. These groups came together to concentrate efforts on establishing safe places for gays and lesbians to be open about their sexual orientation without fear of being arrested.
So, 52 years later, where are we with LGBT rights in the UK and the World?
Having sex with a partner of the same sex is illegal in over 70 countries around the world, many still resulting in life imprisonment and even punishable by death.
A quick Google search for ‘LGBT rights around the World 2019’ brings up 112 million results in less than half a second. That is an awful lot to read, take in and fact check against.
So we thought we would highlight some of the top articles of the first quarter of 2019 showing the variety of opinions expressed around the world:
1. January 2019 – Japan’s top court upholds a ruling that transgender people must be sterilised before changing gender.
2. March 2019 – Thailand elects its first transgender MP, filmmaker Tanwarin Sukkhapisit.
3. April 2019 – The City of London Corporation undertook a survey (back in 2018 but have only just released the results) on trans inclusion in public services. Of those surveyed 68% said that people should have access to services, including toilets, which match their gender identity and not birth gender (if different). Perhaps more surprising is that 29% of those who took part in the survey thought the users should provide proof of their gender identity at single-gender services and facilities.
4. April 2019 – Lyra McKee, gay journalist and LGBT rights activist, shot dead while reporting at the scene of riots that broke out in Northern Ireland. Police believe she was not targeted specifically but was wounded when a republican fired shots into the crowd. Lyra was described as a rising star of investigative journalism. It is important to note that while her death is not necessarily related to her being an LGBT rights activist, the LGBT community around the world suffered a great loss over the Easter weekend.
5. April 2019 – Brunei implements stoning to death under anti-LGBT laws.
6. May 2019 - Taiwan recently pledged to say yes to equal marriage. The first of any Asian state to legalise same-sex marriage with the passage of legislation giving gay couples the right to marry.
7. May 2019 - Transgender no longer recognised as 'disorder' by WHO, The World Health Organization.
Many people see the fight for LGBT rights in Western civilisation as being finished. However, though the UK has taken huge steps in such a short space of time, persecution is still part of the daily life of a member of the LGBT community.
HOWEVER! We received some fantastic news last month when the House of Lords gave its backing to mandatory LGBT-inclusive sex education in English schools. A landslide vote of 538 to 21 means that, from September 2020, the new regulation will come into effect, ensuring a whole new generation will be equipped with the education and knowledge to help combat the ignorance and prejudices which fuel homophobic, biphobic and transphobic abuse.
So as we start to come into Pride seasons around the UK, why not go along and help the LGBT community celebrate their individuality, the huge steps forward the UK have made and most importantly the pride of being who you want to be. Get Involved in this year’s Swindon & Wiltshire Pride Festival of Identity!