In July 2000 Stonewall hosted a joint event with the then brand new Welsh Government to discuss setting up a ‘Lesbian & Gay Forum for Wales’. The discussion was their first public meeting and during the next two years the forum established a steering group.
It was co-chaired by Gloria Jenkins and John Sam Jones and working with Stonewall this fledgling steering group recruited two part-time coordinators.
From the outset this partnership aimed to ‘make equality a reality for LGB people in Wales’ and to do this through sharing experiences, building communities and advising the young National Assembly on legal equality and social justice.
The LGB Forum Cymru’s inaugural conference took place on 13 April 2002, attracting more than 200 people from all parts of Wales.
First Minister Rhodri Morgan described the new forum as ‘an asset that would ‘provide a voice for LGB communities across Wales’. Angela Mason, the then Chief Executive of Stonewall said speaking for Stonewall spoke of the growing influence Wales would have on legislation and her hope that the LGB Forum Cymru would help Wales ‘lead the way on issues of community empowerment and good practice.’
Together the Forum and Stonewall made some significant early gains including, in 2002, the effective repeal of Section 28 in Wales, through Assembly Guidance, and the publication of the first major research study of the lives of LGB people in Wales.
This research revealed that more than a third of LGB people in Wales had experienced physical violence or bullying and that over half felt unprotected by the law.
In this era before employment protections 24% of Welsh LGB people reported having been dismissed because of their sexual orientation (more than twice the UK average for LGB people at the time.)
Early momentum also meant increased demand and a decision was taken to combine the work of the Forum and Stonewall in Wales to create a single all-Wales organisation. From 1 April 2003 this new organisation would be called Stonewall Cymru. Today Stonewall Cymru employs a team of 10 full time staff and operates in both national languages right across Wales.