Last Thursday (17 May) was International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia*. Here's a piece that I wrote for Lib Dem Voice on behalf of LGBT+ Lib Dems, of which I am Secretary. The original piece can be found on Lib Dem Voice, and on the LGBT+ LD site.
On this day in 1990, the World Health Organisation removed homosexuality from its list of ‘mental disorders’. Since 2004 the anniversary of this has been used to promote awareness of the legal and cultural discrimination LGBT+ people still experience around the world.
In the UK that we have come a long way towards achieving equality – and yet we know that, for many, there is still a stigma around their sexuality or gender identity. Imagine being a teenager struggling to reconcile same-sex attraction with the teachings of their parents, or religion. Think about why you may not know many people who are openly bisexual, or those who have multiple partners in consensual polyamorous relationships. Consider the workings of the “spousal veto” which insists a trans person’s husband or wife must consent in order for them to gain gender recognition.
IDAHOBIT is about celebrating the diversity of human sexual and gender expression and challenging the barriers to people living their lives as openly as their cis, straight peers.
In the UK, this year’s day takes place against a backdrop of the current media storm over self-ID for trans people. This is the proposal to reform the Gender Recognition Act such as to reduce the hoops that trans people have to go through to replace their birth certificates. Despite what you may have read, it’s not a licence for any man who wants to perv at naked women to walk into the female changing rooms at the local swimming pool. There are, after all, already rules against that sort of thing. It is merely the UK catching up with such notoriously socially liberal states as Ireland.
This year’s theme for IDAHOBIT is “alliances for solidarity” – and that, to us, sums up what we’re about as an organisation: solidarity with all under-represented, discriminated and persecuted groups. LGBT+ Lib Dems believe that you can’t build equality on the back of another minority or under-represented group. This is why we are vociferous in opposing those who hide their transphobia beneath a cloak of “feminism”. It is why we insist on referring to Same-Sex Marriage as just that – it’s not “Equal Marriage” whilst the spousal veto remains. It is also why we strive to ensure that we do what we can to give additional weight to the L, B and T+ in LGBT+: in a society that has become more accepting of gay men, there is much that remains to be done.
Tackling discrimination in all these forms, and others, is not just an LGBT+ fight, but a Liberal fight. After all, as the preamble to our party constitution has it, “No one [should] be enslaved by … conformity.”
*IDAHOBIT in the UK and Australia, IDAHOTB in the rest of the world. An explanation of this can be found here.