In 1966 when England won the World Cup and The Beatles played their last full concert at Candlestick Park in California, homosexuality was illegal in the UK.
In your lifetime or the lifetime of some close to you, the police could arrest and charge someone for being gay. Heck, as recently as 2014, it was forbidden for two members of the same sex to get married in the UK.
Thankfully, since sex between two men over the age of 21 ‘in private’ was decriminalised in England in 1967 (it remained illegal in other home nations for some time), we’ve made steady progress. Society, on the whole, is more diverse and tolerant and the UK is one of the best countries in Europe for LGBT rights.
But steady progress is slow progress and we’re still a long way off LGBT people being able to feel truly accepted.
Take a look at these findings from the National LGBT survey:
- LGBT respondents are less satisfied with their life than the general UK population (rating satisfaction 6.5 on average out of 10 compared with 7.7). Trans respondents had particularly low scores (around 5.4 out of 10)
- More than two-thirds of LGBT respondents said they had avoided holding hands with a same-sex partner for fear of a negative reaction from others
- At least 2 in 5 respondents had experienced an incident because they were LGBT, such as verbal harassment or physical violence, in the 12 months preceding the survey. However, more than 9 in 10 of the most serious incidents went unreported, often because respondents thought ‘it happens all the time’
- 2% of respondents had undergone conversion or reparative therapy in an attempt to ‘cure’ them of being LGBT, and a further 5% had been offered it
- 24% of respondents had accessed mental health services in the 12 months preceding the survey
One in five LGBT people have experienced a hate crime or incident related to their sexual orientation or gender in the last 12 months and four in five victims have not reported it to the police, many because they feared they would not be taken seriously.
And while 66% of respondents to a British Social Attitudes (BSA) survey said same-sex marriages “were not wrong at all,” that number is down from 68% in 2018, meaning a third of Britons are slightly or very uncomfortable with it.
We could throw stats at you all day, but the point is clear: the UK as a whole isn’t doing enough and you and I can do more.
- Shout up LGBT role models
- Support events like Pride and Trans Day of Remembrance
- Volunteer at LGBT community organisations
- Donate to impactful organisations
- Fight for the policies and protections that matter to LGBT people
- Talk, learn and educate others
Albert Schweitzer once said: “The first step in the evolution of ethics is a sense of solidarity with other human beings.”
Let’s speed things up a bit.