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  • Writer's pictureElizabeth Dennis-Harburg


June is #PrideMonth It marks the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots and the start of the #LGBTQ+ civil rights movement, and is when many hold their annual #Pride celebrations. But this year’s festivities in Britain feeling strangely muted. The annual Rainbow Report ( marks the continued decline of the UK in European inclusivity rankings. In 2015 we were rated the most inclusive country for LGBTQ+ rights in Europe. This year we’ve slumped to 14th. For those who’ve been following Boris Johnson’s government and its attacks on equality it will come as no surprise that the decline accelerated after he became Prime Minister.

Government asylum policy places LGBTQ+ people at risk. Many are held in detention centres within the countries they are fleeing from, and where they have experienced homophobic and transphobic hate. Add into this the government’s decision to send refugees to Rwanda – a country hardly known for its tolerance of the LGQTQ+ community – and it’s clear why we’re failing to meet the grade in this area. The process is against those fleeing persecution for being themselves. At outset, applicants for asylum must provide officials with documents proving their sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sexual characteristics. This isn’t exactly something you’ll have if you’ve been hiding from persecution or had to flee with little time to organise your belongings. The government’s response? “We’ll train our staff better”.

Hate crimes against the LGBTQ+ community are increasing. Bias and prejudice aren’t helped by the media, with newspapers publishing one trans-phobic article EVERY DAY in 2021. 39 equality organisations signed an open letter last May calling on the Equality and Human Rights Commission to step up and do more to support the LGBTQ+ community.

The dither, delay, flip-flopping, u-turn over conversion therapy this year showed how out of touch the Tories are with the LGBTQ+ community. It shouldn’t have taken groups pulling out of a conference for Boris Johnson & co. to realise trans conversion therapy is wrong. Being queer or trans isn’t a choice, illness, or something which needs to be cured, therapised or exorcised. It is who people are and it’s about time we discussed and celebrated this maturely without resorting to policies which other and dehumanise people.

The bias of this government against equality becomes clearer when you look to its education and employment decisions.

The Tories have cut funding for anti-LGBTQ+ bullying programmes in schools despite 46% of LGBTQ+ pupils feeling unsafe at school. 91% of LGBTQ+ students have heard or been subject to negative language about being LGBTQ+ in the last year. If this is where bias is at school, what does that say for the future inclusivity of our society. Those working in education will hardly be surprised by this approach. A Department for Education paper – mysteriously vanished during the conversion therapy debacle – instructed staff not to discuss LGBTQ+ issues with pupils, a worrying throwback to the days of s.28.

Liz Truss, when Minister for Women and Equalities, instructed government departments to withdraw from Stonewall’s employment scheme. The irony of an equalities minister telling organisations not to engage in a programme promoting safe spaces and inclusive workplaces is a bitter pill to swallow.

So, while I’ll be celebrating our progress this month, I know we are still in a fight for our rights as a community, facing one of the least progressive and inclusive governments in recent times and I will play my part.

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