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Chiltern Liberal Democrats

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February is LGBT History Month

February 14, 2020 7:13 PM
By Rachel Dineley

LGBT History Month

February is LGBT History Month and a chance to look back at changes in the law, to see the progress we have made and our will to pursue it. Each year it gives us an opportunity to recognise the power and impact of the LGBT+ community. Throughout this month we celebrate the battles won over hate and intolerance and we also reflect on how we can better advance rights for the entire LGBT+ community.

We opposed Section 28 (a discriminatory law which prohibited the so-called promotion of homosexuality) right from the start. This provision, found in the Local Government Act 1988, was finally repealed in Scotland on June 21, 2000, then in the rest of the UK on November 18, 2003. Sadly, the implications of Section 28 are still visible today.

Adoption law was reformed, to allow single parents and same sex couples to adopt and came into effect in December 2005. Similar legislation was adopted in Scotland, with effect from 28 September 2009. Northern Ireland followed suit in December 2013.

Liberal Democrats fought hard for the introduction of civil partnerships in 2004 and in due course, same sex marriage, when in coalition government. Because of our campaigning more thousands of same-sex couples have been able to get married.

We were the first political party to support trans people changing their legal gender, with the Gender Recognition Act 2004. Today we are still campaigning to streamline the law to allow individuals to self-identify without unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles. There is draft legislation in Scotland, but the rest of the UK lags behind.

Actor Ian McKellen came out in 1988, in order to oppose section 28, but it was only in February 2020 that TV presenter Philip Schofield felt able to come out as gay, after 27 years of marriage to his wife. It's clear that fear of discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and identity remains a challenging issue; unsurprisingly so, when discriminatory treatment is still the common experience of many in the LGBT+ community.

Rachel Dineley, Diversity Officer, Chiltern Liberal Democrats