At Stonewall, we love the Human Rights Act. It underpins a lot of LGBT equality. Here's a quick look at what it does for our community…
Our right to live and work freely
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 seek justice.
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.
Our right to be who we are
Human rights legislation paved the way for the Gender Recognition Act, providing rights for trans people in Britain. The GRA needs reform but the Human Rights Act started us on a journey to trans equality.
Our right to be safe
LGBT people should be able to walk down the street without fear of abuse, hate or violence. We should be free to hold our partner’s hand without fear and be free from bullying at work and at school.
Our right to make sure everyone, everywhere is accepted without exception
We’ve secured great protections for LGBT people. But internationally the picture is very different. In some countries, LGBT people face not discrimination but state-endorsed persecution. Human rights legislation has ensured that can never happen here.
About the Human Rights Act
What is the Human Rights Act?
The Human Rights Act is a piece of UK legislation that protects our human rights. It was passed in 1998 with the intention of ensuring that our rights are incorporated into the heart of UK law. This means you are entitled to defend your rights in the UK courts and that all public organisations and institutions have an obligation to respect everyone’s human rights.
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.
Why is it so important?
The Act protects ALL OF US. Many of us are fortunate enough to have never had to worry about our rights being abused. But for LGBT people who’ve wanted to start a family, to be recognised as who they are, to serve in the military or to access housing the Act helped protect them.
It's also important because it means public bodies in the UK must take our rights into account when making decisions about things like housing, healthcare, schooling and other areas that impact our day to day lives. If they don’t, we can use the Act to challenge them.
It's also enabled some pretty amazing things to happen for LGBT equality over the past 15 years and it means the UK can hold other countries to the standards we measure ourselves by, so that everyone, everywhere can be accepted without exception before the law.
1997 - Ruling supporting the introduction of an equal age of consent
2000 - Ruling that LGB people should be able to serve openly in the military
2002 - Ruling supporting legal gender recognition for trans people
2004 - Ruling giving same-sex couples equal tenancy rights
What about Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland?
The Act also is a part of the 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.
How can I learn more?
Take a look at some of the links below to learn more about the Act and how it protects all of us: