Celebrating the histories, lives and experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people
Today marks the beginning of LGBT History Month - a time when across the country events take place to celebrate and reflect on LGBT lives throughout history. The month also marks the 50th Anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in England and Wales.
Yesterday, on 31 January, thousands of men convicted of offences that once criminalised homosexuality were posthumously pardoned under a new law. There have been many other positive developments in recent years, including in 2013, the historic passage of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill: a landmark in terms of equality for lesbian and gay couples.
As a gay man, working as CGL’s National Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Lead, I feel fortunate to work in an organisation where I am able to be out and proud and for my individuality to be valued. I’m aware however that this isn’t necessarily the experience of every LGBT member of staff, volunteer or service user, and as 2017 gets underway it’s beginning to feel as though there are potentially difficult times ahead for many of us that belong to a minority group or community. It is also apparent that despite the progress made in relation to LGBT equality over the past decades, many LGBT people continue to face disadvantages in their day-to-day lives; from employment, education and healthcare, to reporting a crime.
Research undertaken by Stonewall (the LGBT equality rights organisation) has identified that:
- One in six lesbian, gay and bi people have experienced a homophobic or biphobic hate crime or incident over the last three years;
- More than a third of Transgender people have experienced physical intimidation and threats and almost all have experienced silent harassment (e.g. being stared at/whispered about);
- One in five lesbian, gay and bi employees have experienced verbal bullying from colleagues, customers or service users because of their sexual orientation in the last five years;
- Nearly half of Transgender people are not living permanently in their preferred gender role because they fear it might threaten their employment status;
- In the health and social care sector, a quarter of patient-facing staff have heard colleagues make negative remarks about lesbian, gay or bi people;
- One in five have heard similar disparaging remarks about Transgender people
Here at CGL, we are committed to ensuring that everyone who accesses our services is treated with fairness, dignity and respect, irrespective of their background. This was an area we looked at in our service user survey undertaken last year, where we found that 87% of those responding to the survey (including LGBT respondents) said that they felt they had been treated in this way. While this is reassuring, response rates to the survey from LGBT service users were low (in comparison to the wider service user population) and we recognise that we need to do more to engage with them. In a previous blog I talked about the work some of our services are undertaking to support gay men who are engaged in Chemsex.
While recognising that Chemsex is an issue which affects a small minority of gay men and the wider LGBT community, we will be continuing to focus on improving our support in this area during 2017. We have also identified that an effective way of engaging more with LGBT communities is to participate in LGBT Pride events. Last year we participated in 6 events throughout the UK and in 2017 we are aiming to at least double that.
As LGBT History Month is a time of celebration I wanted to close by highlighting that CGL has climbed 36 places on this year’s Stonewall Workplace Equality Index. The Index features organisations who have done exceptional and pioneering work to help make sure that every LGBT employee can be themselves in the workplace. We are now ranked 251 out of 439 inclusive organisations and are also in the top fifty per cent of third sector organisations on the Index. This is a great start to the year and I am looking forward to continuing with the work to improve the experience of our LGBT staff, volunteers and service users and to achieving an even higher index rating in 2018.
If you are interested in supporting the Pride Planning Group (which is open to staff, volunteers and service users whether they are LGBT or not) please contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Further information about LGBT History Month can be found here.