This February is LGBT History Month, making it an exciting time to reflect on the many positive changes the LGBT community has witnessed over the last decade in the UK. A number of momentous landmarks have taken place in terms of the rights enjoyed by LGBT people, including the passing of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013. Over 15,000 same-sex couples married within 18 months of the legislation coming into force, with several couples tying the knot just after midnight on 29 March 2014. The American Supreme Court decision last year on same-sex marriage has added a global stimulus to the drive for equality.
There were great legislative advances over the last decade in the UK, creating the platform for a truly equitable society. Legislation in 2007 ensured that LGBT people cannot be discriminated against concerning the provision of goods or services. It was on this basis that last year a bakery was prosecuted for refusing to bake a cake to celebrate same-sex marriage. The 2008 Criminal Justice and Immigration Act made “incitement to homophobic hatred” a crime. Publications and websites may not make homophobic remarks or perpetuate lies about LGBT people. Legislation in 2009 meant that same-sex couples are now treated the same in relation to the provision of fertility treatments, making it easier for them to be recognised as the parents of their child. The 2010 Equality Act simplified a range of existing legislation, grouping a number of laws protecting LGBT people in one place.
In terms of visibility there are more LGBT people in public life than ever before. In 2015 the public voted for the gayest parliament ever, with the most gay MPs and candidates. There are an increasing number of LGBT people on television, from chat show hosts such as Graham Norton and Ellen DeGeneres to the stars of our favourite soaps. Across the country and in all walks of life there are an increasing number of openly LGBT people. Caitlyn Jenner has received an incredible response from the public, challenging stigma around trans identity. The Church of England has made some progress on LGBT issues, although I was saddened that Justin Welby decided to censure the US Episcopal Church on same-sex marriage at the recent Anglican Primates Conference. I’ve had my own amazing journey with Christianity and have been met with only tolerance and acceptance by the Church of England.
The UK is more diverse and accepting of LGBT people than at any other time. The previous decade has seen much progress concerning LGBT rights and I look forward to this trend continuing.
Click here to read our fabulous interview with the inspirational Philip Chistopher Baldwin in the July 2015 edition of SLOAN Magazine.