What to watch out for in 2019
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What to watch out for in 2019

As we catch our breath after a very hectic 2018, we’ve dusted off our crystal ball and asked some of the wisest voices in Stonewall what they are on the lookout for as we head in the uncharted waters of 2019…

Laura Russell, Head of Policy. It’s all about Brexit… 

“The UK’s relationship with Europe - the issue that’s entirely dominated the UK’s political agenda since June 2016 (and will undoubtedly dominate for decades to come) - comes to a head this year. Without any change of course, we’re set to leave the European Union at 11pm Friday 29 March 2019. 

“One thing that hasn’t made too many headlines is that, even though the EU (Withdrawal) Act was meant to be a copy-and-paste of EU law into our own statute books, it has actually removed some important equalities and human rights rules that act to protect LGBT people’s rights, including the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. 

Brexit must not mean a loss of the hard-won rights

“While the UK’s political situation is more uncertain than ever, we’re clear that Brexit must not mean a loss of the hard-won rights that generations of LGBT people and their allies have fought for. This year, a big focus for us has to be working to make sure that the fundamental rights and equalities we enjoy today are protected and advanced, not rolled back while people are distracted.” 

Lucy Devine, Director of Communications. Stonewall reaches a big milestone. 

“2019 is the year that Stonewall reaches the ripe old age of 30 years old. We love any excuse for a celebration, and hitting this milestone is a great reason to look back at what we’ve achieved. In the scheme of things 1989 was not that long ago, but what life was like for LGBT people then can read like pages from a dystopian novel: teachers couldn’t support LGBT pupils for fear of losing their jobs, same-sex couples couldn’t marry or adopt, LGB people couldn’t serve openly in the military, trans people weren’t legally recognised at all and as recently as 2003 you could be fired from your job simply because of your sexual orientation.

“Hundreds of individuals and organisations have been involved in tackling these massive barriers to equality and making things better for LGBT people in Britain over the decades. But there is still so, so much for us to do. We want to use 2019 as an opportunity to mark what we’ve achieved together, celebrate, and regroup to focus on the major challenges ahead – to name but a few: tackling the horrific levels of hate crime and discrimination LGBT people still experience, making trans equality a reality and, crucially, working hard to make sure the rights we’ve fought so hard for don’t slip backwards in these uncertain times.” 

Paul Twocock, Director of Policy. A big year for trans equality?

“2019 has the potential to be a milestone year for trans equality. Both the UK and Scottish Government have announced plans to improve the way trans people can have their gender legally recognised, by reforming a law called the Gender Recognition Act. The public consultations on this reform in 2018 brought out a lot of support for trans equality, but were also incredibly difficult at times. Opponents of reform spread vicious misinformation and myths, seeking to sow doubt among people who would naturally support equality, and causing a lot of harm to trans people on the receiving end of attacks in the media and social media. Unfortunately, I think those attacks will continue in 2019, because opponents of reform (who actually want to wind back equality laws and strip back rights for trans people) are increasingly worried they are going to lose this. 

Together we will win the fight for trans equality.

“We are optimistic that together we will win the fight for trans equality, but as allies we need to make sure we look out for our trans colleagues, friends and families throughout the year and ensure they know they are loved and supported by us, and that we are committed to playing our part in achieving their right to fair and equal treatment. Next year is the year where we could reach that tipping point of support: reforming the law and ending the daily discrimination that trans people face in our communities will follow from that.”

Jehmeil Lemonius, Sport Campaigns Manager. The Women’s World Cup hits France.

‘’2019 looks set for the Women’s World Cup to take centre stage in the sporting world and build on the excitement that the men’s World Cup in Russia 2018 generated. 

“In tabloid football reporting, there is a continual obsession with hunting down the first Premier League player who will finally ‘come out’. What people are often less aware of is that there are many openly lesbian and bi role models already playing within the women’s game, and many will be performing on the international stage next year during France 2019. 

"A couple of weeks ago UEFA, the governing body for European football, announced that England will be host of the Women’s European Championships in 2021. This is a great opportunity to work closely with the FA on how we can use those amazing role models within the Lionesses structure to help improve the lives and experiences of LGBT people within the wider game. It’s an exciting time for women’s football – all kicking off in France next summer.‘’

Andrew White, Director of Stonewall Cymru. We believe that children (and young people) are the future…

“One of Stonewall’s founding objectives was the repeal of Section 28 – a nasty piece of legislation that banned teachers and other local council employees from ‘promoting homosexuality’ - and a major part of our work today is still making up for the damage it caused.  

“Over the past year I’ve been really excited by a series of announcements from governments across the UK promising big leaps forward in LGBT+ inclusive education.  In 2019 I’ll be watching out for these promises becoming real action. In England the Government will publish guidance so that all schools can start implementing LGBT inclusive relationships and sex education, in Scotland the Government have promised to roll out the world’s first LGBT inclusive curriculum, and at home in Wales the development of fully inclusive (and statutory) relationships and sexuality education is set to continue apace. These changes are a huge step forward in our history but more importantly, they are an amazing investment in our future and will transform the support and validation that LGBT young people experience at school.”

Sara Hall, Head of International Campaigns and Policy. UK steps up as global leader on equality.

“In June 2019 the UK government – working jointly with Argentina - will step into a global leadership role as co-chair of the Equal Rights Coalition. The coalition is a group of 40 member states who work together to try and advance the rights of LGBTI people in their own countries, and influence inclusive development in those countries that are currently not part of the membership. Over 70 organisations, like Stonewall, also actively engage with the Equal Rights Coalition to support their work.

We look forward to accelerating acceptance without exception for LGBT+ people across the world.

“It’s a coalition with huge influence and huge potential, so the UK acting as co-chair is a really positive development. We welcome the UK Government stepping up as a global leader on LGBT+ equality and we look forward to accelerating acceptance without exception for LGBT+ people across the world, working together with the UK government and a global network of civil society voices.”

Robbie de Santos, Head of Campaigns. We mark 50 years since New York’s Stonewall uprising.

“2019 isn’t just our 30th birthday, it also marks 50 years since the Stonewall Riots in New York - an uprising started by a group of LGBT people in response to a brutal police raid at the Stonewall Inn in New York (an LGBT venue) on June 28 1969. The uprising was led by lesbian activist Stormé Delaverie and trans women of colour Marsha P Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, alongside a host of other LGBT people there taking a stand for their rights.

“It was a pivotal moment in the history of LGBT equality. It led to the formation of the Gay Liberation Front in the US, Canada and Britain, and the birth of the now global Pride movement. The activism, community support and mass mobilisation that was kickstarted by those events has built acceptance and won rights for LGBT people across the world.

“We can all learn a lot from our history, and have a part to play in making sure that stories and voices from that time are listened to and heard – to understand the grim context of the late 1960s, and celebrate the brave campaigning their actions have inspired over the decades that followed. Activists from that time in Britain are alive, kicking and determined to keep making the world a better place. Voices from around the world will be marking this big anniversary in June next year, and we at Stonewall will certainly be listening, learning and celebrating with them.” 

Colin Macfarlane, Director Stonewall Scotland. A new programme to open up Scottish workplaces for LGBT people.

‘’In Scotland, we’re really excited to be launching our new Workplace Placement programme for young LGBT people in early 2019.  The programme will place young LGBT people with an employer that we know is inclusive, and give them personal support from a mentor to build skills and valuable work experience. It’s a programme that’s really needed: our research shows that, for example, a third of bi staff are not open with anyone at work about their sexual orientation, and 18 per cent of trans people aren’t open with anyone a work about their gender identity. Young people we work with tell us they are often scared and daunted about entering the workplace for the first time and worry they won’t be able to be themselves. We hope this programme will help change that.

“We’re hoping to open up placements in a variety of organisations in the public, private and third sectors in Scotland.  We will soon be looking for people to apply and if you’re currently in school, college, university or if you’ve been out of education or employment for a while, keep an eye out on twitter @StonewallScot for up to date information.”