And breathe… put those rainbow flags down, roll up those pro-equality banners and get back to your everyday lives, because the quest for LGBT+ equality is done now…right?
It was heartening to see my Facebook and Twitter feeds full to the brim with rainbow adorned profile pictures last week in the wake of the Supreme Court of the United State’s ruling that bans on same-sex marriage were unconstitutional. This follows a same-sex marriage legalisation in Ireland a few weeks ago, both of which seemed oddly more celebrated than when the Lib Dems delivered the same ruling for Britain but the point remains, these heart-warming victories for marriage equality don’t end the procession of LGBT+ rights and they certainly shouldn’t serve as a reason for the Tory government to rest on its laurels.
There is still so much to do before parity between cisgender heterosexuals and the rest of society will be a reality. Whilst marriage equality has long been the centrefold issue of LGBT+ activism, we must now turn our focus to other areas. For instance, the MSM (men who have sex with men) blood donation ban, which stops those who have had intercourse with another man within the last year from donating blood even if its perfectly healthy – a review of this could not only legislate for greater equality but save thousands and thousands of lives. Whilst we’re at it, let’s actually achieve marriage equality, let’s push same-sex marriage in to Northern Ireland and end the abhorrent spousal veto which requires a spouse’s permission for a person to legally change their gender. We need to put external pressure on nations in the EU and the Commonwealth to raise their game when it comes to LGBT+ rights.
We need to protect mental health services from ideological Tory cuts to help one third of LGBT+ youths that will suffer from anxiety or depression. We need to take a proactive approach to drastically reducing the disproportionate homelessness among LGBT+ youth, which is eight times higher than for young straight people. On top of this, despite protestations from the right that it’s inappropriate, we need to provide age appropriate sex and relationship education in schools for not only gay, lesbian and bisexual students but for asexual students too. During my years at school the concept of any of these types of relationships was never discussed in the classroom, it was treated like an invisible taboo which could cause so much mental damage to a young person.
For too long we have been complacent on biphobia, we need to tackle the myth that a person cannot be attracted to people from more than one gender. As well as this, we must stand up for the rights of transgender people too and drag them up to parity with LGB equality. There needs to be a review on how transphobic hate crimes is documented to ensure those callous offences aren’t going undetected, as well as this redrafts of legal documents like passports must be made to include an ‘x-gender’ option to those who fell they’re neither male nor female.
The whole point of this endless ramble of LGBT+ issues is that there’s still a lot of work to be done. Truthfully, I have barely scratched the surface on the social and legislative inequalities still faced by LGBT+ people in Britain and abroad. Unfortunately, whilst there was good work done by the Liberal Democrats over the last five years, we are now left with a Conservative government. A party who voted en masse in opposition to same-sex marriage. As we saw with UKIP and their embarrassingly disrespectful parade invasion at London Pride, the right only ever want to be seen to help LGBT+ people – they never actually do it. That is why it is more crucial than ever for a progressive alliance to topple this Tory government and ensure we don’t lose ground on the race for equality.
Labour are too busy fashioning false cocksure banners and the SNP are still flogging a dead-horse with the defeated one issue they care about. Instead, the rest of Britain’s progressives must align and challenge the Tories when they profess to be LGBT+ rights champions – they’re not. Nicky Morgan may be the Equalities Minister, but she famously voted against same-sex marriage too. The prevailing point of this article is that LGBT+ issues are as important now as ever, maybe even more so, a marriage certificate is a great step forwards but it’s still not enough – we’ve managed to get our foot in the door, let’s work together and push that door wide open.