What you can do

Government Action Plan is a welcome first step

Last year, the government asked LGBT people to tell them what life is like in Britain today. The response was overwhelming – over 108,000 lesbian, gay, bi and trans people shared their experiences. 

This morning, the results of that survey have been released, and the picture they paint isn’t a pretty one.  Some people will be shocked by the findings. But for anyone who is LGBT, or has a family member or friend who is, these results will be sadly recognisable.

Laws have improved and attitudes have changed but our society still treats LGBT people like second-class citizens.

Laws have improved and attitudes have changed but our society still treats LGBT people like second-class citizens.

This survey is important because the reality of this needs to be revealed.

We’re pleased the government has not only asked, but listened.  

Having a central action plan to help tackle this widespread inequality is essential and it’s a welcome demonstration from government on how serious they are about changing the lives of LGBT people.

And this action plan is looking at all areas of society because discrimination has far-reaching consequences, sometimes life-threatening.

While most health and social care staff want to deliver the best possible service to lesbian, gay, bi and trans people, discrimination still exists and this puts the health of LGBT people at risk.

That makes the government’s commitment to appoint an LGBT health adviser to improve access to vital services hugely welcome news.

A few years ago we did research that found one in ten health and care staff across Britain witnessed colleagues express the dangerous belief that someone could be ‘cured’ of same-sex attraction.

Sadly, this survey reveals that conversion therapy is still happening, with five per cent of respondents saying they had been offered a ‘cure’ while two per cent had been subjected to this dangerous practice.

It’s absolutely vital that more is done to stamp out this demeaning and unethical act. 

Hate crime is also something that still blights the lives of LGBT people.

Hate crime is also something that still blights the lives of LGBT people.

Stonewall’s recent research found that four in five anti-LGBT hate crimes and incidents go unreported, with younger LGBT people particularly reluctant to go to the police.

We need investment and training to improve LGBT people’s confidence that they will be taken seriously when they report a hate crime. We are also asking the Government to update the law so that hate crimes against LGBT people treated with the same severity as hate crimes based on faith and race.

But where we need urgent reform is trans equality. As this survey shows, and our research backs up, the situation for trans and non-binary people is a national disgrace. 

The situation for trans and non-binary people is a national disgrace. 

Even without this research, anyone who has witnessed this past year’s public debate on gender will have seen first-hand how appallingly trans people are being treated by elements of the media and groups online. It has strong echoes of the vicious anti-gay headlines we had to endure back in the 90s.

Reforming the Gender Recognition Act is an essential step forward that we need to take, as it will replace a dehumanising process with one that is based in respect and dignity.

But while legislation will help create a stronger framework for equality for all LGBT to flourish, it is up to all of us to create a society where people can truly be free to be themselves.

It’s a sad fact that holding hands in public isn’t something same-sex couples do with the ease that carefree love encourages. It’s an act that’s fraught, it’s uncomfortable – the thoughts of ‘are we safe’ overwhelm the moment.

That sense of safety is not something legislation can achieve. That’s for all of us to work towards.

Today’s news is an important first step but we must see action that leads to tangible change.

Today’s news is an important first step but we must see action that leads to tangible change.

You, me – we all have a part to play in listening to the voices today of hundreds of thousands of our LGBT siblings, and working hard to create a society where every lesbian, gay, bi and trans person is accepted without exception.

The next steps for us is to analyse the plan in detail and we’ll issue further insight as soon as possible.

Further information