What you can do

Speaking out and standing up on International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia

Today Parliament debated issues very close to our heart as part of International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT).

It’s great to see these matters being discussed in the highest forum in the UK. It’s a welcome platform for a broader discussion that could change hearts and minds - and lives.

There’s a lot to do. LGBT people here and around the world face hate, discrimination and violence every day. If we all stand up, speak out and take action, acceptance without exception will be one step closer.

We’re pleased that the new Minister for Women and Equalities, Penny Mordaunt MP, has today reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to launching the consultation on reforming the Gender Recognition Act 2005 (GRA) soon. The delay is causing distress to trans people. The vacuum created by the hold up has allowed a small but vocal group to run a campaign against them that is full of misinformation and hate.

Sensationalised press coverage has emboldened some people to question the right of trans people to exist at all – despite it being a non-disputable fact already settled in UK law. Trans men and women currently live under a law that treats them as having a mental illness.

We all need the law to change so trans people can have their identity officially recognised without having to go through the bureaucratic and demeaning process they face at the moment. It’s a simple step that will let them get on with living the lives they were meant to lead.

We also want to stand up today – and every day – for those who endure verbal or physical attacks because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.

Home Office figures show that recorded hate crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity increased by 27 per cent and 45 per cent between 2015/16 and 2016/17.

And those figures are the tip of the iceberg. Our LGBT in Britain: Hate Crime and Discrimination report (2017) found that four in five LGBT people who experienced a hate crime didn’t report it to the police. And if you’re LGBT and black, Asian or minority ethnic or LGBT and disabled, you’re even more likely to be targeted.

We share the Law Commission’s view that crime based on sexual orientation, gender identity or disability should receive as severe a sentence as those based on race and faith, which is not the case at the moment.

We share the Law Commission’s view that crime based on sexual orientation, gender identity or disability should receive as severe a sentence as those based on race and faith, which is not the case at the moment.

And we need to improve the way LGBT hate crime is dealt with by the police and prosecutors so that more people feel more confident in reporting their experiences.

We’re also speaking up for our LGBT family around the world. Violence and criminalisation is part of everyday life in too many countries. And discrimination in education, health and employment is never far away. Lesbians, bi women and trans people are particularly marginalised.

We understand the importance of collaboration in bringing about change. That’s why we work with LGBT organisations across the world. Recently we worked with 13 LBT activists from Southern Africa to tackle key issues such as violence, poverty and exclusion.

Listening to the voices of LGBT activists is vital.

Listening to the voices of LGBT activists is vital.

Which is why we hope LGBT issues will be added to the agenda at a summit about the Western Balkans in London in July. It’s a part of the world where 25 per cent of LGBT people have been attacked because of their sexuality or gender identity. We’d love to see LGBT delegates from the Western Balkans officially invited to the discussion table too. 

Some of these steps might seem too remote and beyond our reach. But actually every one of us has a role in building acceptance in our communities, our workplaces, our schools and the wider world. Every time we step up, makes a difference.

International Day of Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia will soon be over. The hate that makes such a day necessary, won’t be. So, stand up and speak out. Come out for LGBT, today, tomorrow and beyond.

Further information

Contact Stonewall’s parliamentary team on policy.parliamentary@stonewall.org.uk.