We’ve made great gains in the UK but more gains need to won
By Peter Tatchell, Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation
Pride in London Souvenir Guide 2014 – June 2014
I am proud to support London LGBT Pride. The lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community makes a vibrant, positive contribution to London; enlivening and enriching its cultural diversity. Bravo!
As well as being a fabulous celebration and party, Pride is an important manifestation of our continuing campaign for LGBT dignity, acceptance and human rights.
Despite having secured the repeal all major anti-LGBT laws, our rights are not yet fully won.
It is great that we’ve overturned the ban on same-sex marriage. Big thanks to the thousands of people – LGBT and straight – who supported the campaign against homophobic discrimination in marriage law.
But the new legislation – despite being a welcome advance – is not equality. Same-sex marriage exists under a 2013 law; whereas opposite-sex marriage exists under a law from 1949. Separate is not equal. Why are we being legally segregated from straight couples? And why is there continuing discrimination against same-sex spouses (and civil partners) in pension inheritance?
In addition, over 50% of LGBT young people report having been bullied at school. Yet half the country’s schools still don’t have an anti-bullying programme that specifically addresses homophobic and transphobic bullying.
One third of LGBT people have been victims of hate crimes; including violent attack. Extremist clerics who incite the murder of queers are never prosecuted. All the equality laws have exemptions for religious organisations; in certain circumstances they are allowed to discriminate against us.
LGBT refugees fleeing persecution in countries like Uganda and Iran are often put in detention centres, refused asylum and sometimes deported back to their home countries to face further victimisation.
In other parts of the world, the situation is much bleaker for LGBT people. Nearly 80 countries still criminalise homosexuality, with penalties ranging up to life imprisonment and even the death penalty. More than half of these countries are members of the Commonwealth. They defy – with impunity – the Commonwealth Charter’s pledge of equality for all.
The battle for LGBT equality is a worldwide struggle. Despite recent setbacks in Russia, Cameroon, India, Nigeria and Uganda, in most countries LGBT people are making gains. Queer freedom is an unstoppable global trend.
My appeal to Pride supporters is: Dream of a world with equality for all LGBT people. Let’s carry on the fight to make homophobia, biphobia and transphobia history – in the UK and everywhere.