1998: Human Rights Act opens the door to LGBT rights
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Human Rights Act

1998: Human Rights Act opens the door to LGBT rights

One of our favourite pieces of legislation becomes UK law. Why do we love it so much? Because it protects our rights to be treated as equals with equal access to protection regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race or age.

In the years that followed the Second World War, an international treaty now called the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) was formed to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms in Europe. The Human Rights Act incorporates most of the rights in the ECHR and puts them at the heart of UK policy and law-making process.

While the ECHR sets out a range of entitlements, it’s the Human Rights Act that puts them into action in the UK.

The Act protects all of us! Some of us are fortunate enough to have never had to worry about our rights being abused. But for LGBT people, many things people take for granted – like starting a family – have been difficult, or illegal, to do in the past.

Whether it’s going to work, serving in the military, staying in a hotel or accessing healthcare, human rights legislation helps protect us from discrimination. If this is denied, we can now seek justice.

It also protects our right to love. LGBT people can start a family, get married and share their lives with the people they love. Human rights legislation protects our right to family life and it means the state can’t discriminate.

The Human Rights Act also paved the way for the Gender Recognition Act, starting us on a journey to trans equality. The current GRA needs reform, but it was the Human Rights Act that began the process of ensuring equality for trans people.

We’ve secured great protections for LGBT people. But internationally the picture is very different. In some countries, LGBT people face not only discrimination but state-endorsed persecution. Human rights legislation has ensured that can never happen here.

The Act also is part of a devolution settlement in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Any changes will have an impact in all three nations and will need to be agreed with the devolved parliaments and assemblies.

We have made incredible progress toward LGBT equality over the last 30 years, but the fight is far from over.