The UK Government has announced its LGBT Action Plan following the largest ever survey of the LGBT community in the United Kingdom including Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Pride in London welcomes this attempt to make positive changes to the lives of the LGBT people across the UK. However, there are significant missed opportunities to address inequality and there is no inclusion of how the UK Government proposes to work with devolved administrations among other issues.
We are disappointed by the lack of provisions within the action plan to bring the rights of LGBT+ people in Northern Ireland into line with the rest of the United Kingdom. Thousands of same-sex couples in Northern Ireland are still denied their basic human right to have their relationships recognised through marriage. Despite the complexities of politics in Northern Ireland, there is no justification for this omission. The political vacuum created by the collapse of the Stormont Executive must not be used as an excuse to delay the introduction of same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland, and the UK Government must take immediate action to ensure the rights of LGBT+ people across all of the UK are validated.
Creating the role of an LGBT Health Advisor within NHS England is a welcome step, but we welcome this with caution. The role of LGBT Health Advisor needs to be a clinical appointment of an individual who is specially trained to address the current failures within the NHS for the LGBT community, specifically the trans and intersex communities. Further, this role does not extend beyond England, failing to address LGBT health concerns in communities across the UK as a whole.
Pride in London welcomes the Government’s commitment to a LGBT-inclusive curriculum in both primary and secondary schools. We need assurances that every school in the United Kingdom teaches children the values of respect and inclusivity. At secondary level, it is now widely accepted that every young person needs impartial sex and relationship education and it is about time this is recognised and that LGBT relationships should be included within education curriculum, no matter what type of school a child is in. Homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying is all too common among young people and it can only be resolved through understanding and education. The Government should be resolute in its approach to its commitment that all young people receive an inclusive education and stand firm against faith and interest groups seeking to prioritise their own views over the interests of young people. In response to the UK Government LGBT Action Plan, Co-Chairs of Pride in London, Alison Camps and Michael Salter-Church said:
"For members of the LGBT+ community and allies these findings aren’t new. Our recent Pride Matters report included a number of similar results and we are just one of many LGBT groups who have been highlighting these issues for years. We are disappointed that yet another year has been lost before meaningful changes are made.
“However, we welcome the scale of this research and that the government has committed to act on the results, but we now expect action to follow quickly. The measures set out need to have real teeth and there is a danger that events such as Brexit could delay legislative progress.
"What is missing from the report is an acknowledgement that we do not have equality across the whole of the UK. The Prime Minister and the Minister both mention the UK’s global leadership on LGBT+ rights. The truth of the matter is that other countries have overtaken us and there has been a failure to address fundamental issues in our country; the lack of equal marriage in Northern Ireland and cohesive relationship, gender and sex education being the most obvious. We call on the government to specifically address these points.
"Above all, what we see is that Pride matters as much as it ever has. This Saturday, the UK’s biggest Pride parade will take to the streets 46 years after it started. We will be there not just to celebrate how far we’ve come, but to march and protest for how much further we need to go in London and beyond”.
While the LGBT Action Plan is a wide-ranging and welcome strategy, it is too late - this is long overdue. There is a significant requirement to address societal and cultural issues, as well as fundamental human and civil liberties as we found as part of our “Pride Matters” report.