LGBT History Month

LGBT History Month is an annual celebration that provides education and insight into the issues that the LGBT+ community faces.

The primary aim of LGBT History Month is to teach young people about the history of the gay rights movement and to promote an inclusive modern society.

In April 2019, the government announced new regulations for teaching relationships and sex education in England. This is 31 years after Margaret Thatcher banned state schools from teaching or promoting the ‘acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship.’ This wasn’t repealed from English law until 2003 when I was 17 and struggling to come to terms with my own sexuality.

The regulations – which were rolled out in September 2020 – mean that secondary schools now teach pupils about sexual orientation and gender identity, and all primary schools teach about different families, which of course includes LGBT families.

However, despite this, a YouGov poll of more than 1,000 teachers working in UK primary or secondary schools found that LGBT bullying is the most prevalent type of bullying in schools, with the research showing it was more common than incidents relating to racism, sexism or religion. I’m shocked and surprised by this. I genuinely thought secondary schools had changed and that our culture and society had moved forward…how long is it going to take?!

In Britain conversion therapy is still legal! (The term “conversion therapy” covers a range of practices that falsely claim to change a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or expression to ‘cure’ them.)

Despite all major UK therapy professional bodies and the NHS rejecting it and stating that it is dangerous, some practitioners continue to conduct conversion therapy.

In 2018, the government pledged to ban conversion therapy, but this has not yet happened. On 20 July 2020, Boris Johnson described gay conversion therapy as “absolutely abhorrent” and said it “has no place in a civilised society, has no place in this country”. Yet his response to this is to do a ‘study’ to see what is happening, how prevalent it is and then bring forward plans to ban it. WHY?! Why does the government need to do a study? If they say they’re going to ban conversion therapy, why don’t they just ban it?! It’s 3 years after they pledged to and still nothing has actually been done. Meanwhile there’s a possibility some people are being subjected to this horrendous and heinous act. It’s medieval!

The  Trevor Project, a charity focused on suicide prevention efforts among LGBTQ+ people, states that conversion therapists use “a variety of shaming, emotionally traumatic or physically painful stimuli to make their victims associate those stimuli with their LGBTQ identities”. A national survey of 108,000 members of the LGBTQ+ community suggested that two per cent have undergone the practice, with another five per cent having been offered it. This may seem like a small percentage, but this means that more than 2000 people have been subjected to this!

Meanwhile research conducted by Stonewall found that one in 10 health and social care staff have witnessed colleagues express the belief that sexual orientation can be “cured”, which rises to one in five among health and care staff in London.

The idea that conversion therapy exists, and that people think that being lesbian, gay, bi or trans is a mental illness that can be “cured” is unfathomable!

It makes me so angry! First of all,…. being lesbian, gay, bi, trans etc is NOT a mental illness! People have suggested to me that the reason I am a lesbian is because of my parents splitting up and being raised by my Mum…. what a load of bollocks. It has absolutely nothing to do with that whatsoever.

It’s my opinion and strong belief that just as people are born with different ethnicities, different eye colours, different hair etc. people are also born with different sexualities. Just because you can’t see someone’s sexuality doesn’t mean it’s not there from birth. I believe it’s in your genes. However, the way society generally is, promotes certain norms including that of the average couple still consisting of a man and a woman and parents being a mum and a dad. How we’re brought up and what we are exposed to will have a part to play in how we perceive ourselves. I will talk about this more another time.

Worldwide, only Brazil, Ecuador and Malta currently have national bans on conversion therapy. Of all the countries in the world I was surprised to learn this. Here’s hoping that it won’t take decades for every country in the world to ban it. Fingers crossed!

There’s still a long way to go when it comes to LGBTQ+ rights….it was only 17 years ago when same-sex couples could enter into a civil partnership and it took another 10 years (2014) before same sex marriages became legal in England, Wales and Scotland. A year afterwards Ireland followed suit, yet it was only last year when it became legal in Northern Ireland.

Out of 195 countries in the world only 25 have legalised gay marriage. The Netherlands became the first country to legalise gay marriage in 2001 whilst the latest country to join the list was Northern Ireland in 2020.

However unfortunately there are still some countries that are so adamant about not legalizing gay marriage that they criminalize homosexuality to the full extent of the law. Most of Africa doesn’t permit the expression of sexuality beyond heterosexuality and members of the LGBTQ+ community could face imprisonment up to a full life sentence.

In the most extreme situations, you might be facing the death penalty, simply for being homosexual. The same is true in many Asian countries and a few eastern European nations. Russia is an example of a nation that does not necessarily criminalize same-sex couples, but the government places serious restrictions on people who are gay, which is still a way of censoring relationships that are not heterosexual.

I genuinely hope that within my lifetime I see all countries throughout the world recognise LGBTQ+ rights and that every country de-criminalizes homosexuality.

After all, love comes in all shapes and sizes and we have right to love freely. I may fear judgement, not be fully open about who I may love but I will never apologise for who I may love or for being a lesbian. I know I want my children to be able to love whoever they want without fear of judgement, all I want for my children is for them to be happy and healthy, I hope all parents feel the same and that their love for their children would NEVER waiver because of anything, especially their sexuality.

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