1st February marked the beginning of LGBT+ History Month. Launched in 2005, LGBT+ History Month is a time when people come together to share and tell stories of the experiences, lives and achievements of LGBT+ people throughout society.
Bromley Liberal Democrats strongly believe that we are stronger the more diverse, open and caring we are as a society. It is also important to reflect and understand what others have gone through and the discrimination people have and still face, whether it is to do with where they come from, how they look or who they love.
LGBT+ History Month reminds us of the progress made, but also warns us about the injustices that the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans (LGBT) communities have only recently escaped - and injustices that are still with us.
Back in 2005 when LGBT+ History Month was first introduced in the UK, things were quite different. Section 28, which "prohibited the promotion of homosexuality" by public authorities, had only been off the statute books for two years in England; there was no same sex marriage (and civil partnerships only came into effect in December 2005); and the life blood donation ban for men who have sex with men was in full effect. In 2021, things are different in lots of respects.
Whilst there has been progress, there are still many challenges facing LGBT+ people in the UK and around the world. Same sex sexual activity is still illegal in at least 72 countries. Of those, 11 have the death penalty as a possible punishment. And at least 15 countries criminalise the free expression of one's gender identity (with many more than 15 proving a hostile environment to trans people).
Alarmingly, in the UK, the Conservative Government has yet to ban gay conversion therapy when they promised to do so. Additionally, in September 2020 the Government published the results of the public consultation in relation to reforming the Gender Recognition Act which showed wide support for all aspects of reform, including: 64% in favour of removing the requirement for a diagnosis of gender dysphoria and 80% in favour of removing the requirement for a medical report. However the Government decided not only to not change the current law, but started an open consultation where they detail plans of policing gendered toilets & scrap Gender Neutral Toilet facilities.
The Liberal Democrats will always fight against these injustices and will use our platform to support those who have been discriminated against. Our constitution states:
"The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no-one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity."
Unlike the Conservatives and Labour, the Liberal Democrats' LGBT+ equality body is an official part of the party and it can be seen by the body's timeline how we as a party have always stood up for LGBT+ rights.