As we celebrate the progress made in LGBT Rights let's also work to improve them further
50 years ago The Sexual Offences Act, 1967 became law — it legalized homosexual acts (in private) between two consenting adults over the age of 21. However, many restrictions were placed on what was considered ‘private’, and the law only applied in England and Wales.
Even after the passing of this law, LGBT citizens were far from achieving equality. It would take another 13 years for a similar law to be passed in Scotland, and 15 for Northern Ireland. And, progress soon came to a holt when in 1988 then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher introduced Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988.
Section 28 stated that a local authority, “shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality” or “promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship”.
But, it has since been 14 years since the repeal of Section 28, and ever since we have made leaps and bounds in terms of advancing rights for the LGBT Community. In 2002, same-sex couples were given equal adoption rights, in 2004 same sex couples were allowed to have Civil Partnerships, and in 2007 discrimination based on sexuality was outlawed. Then, on March 29th, 2014 the first Same Sex marriage took place, after the passing of the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act the previous year.
Because of landmark decisions such as these a whole generation of LGBT citizens in The UK will have grown up not knowing a world where the law discriminates against them simply because of who they are.
Earlier this week a poll — asking three questions regarding attitudes to homesexuality — was released. These were the findings;
While, some were happy to see that the majority of people sided with The LGBT Community, on all questions, others were concerned that such a large minority of people said they didn’t think primary school children should be taught about gay relationships.
On the whole these polls show that there is still work to be done on changing opinions, but they also show that we are moving in the right direction, with the next generation (18–24 year olds), overwhelmingly backing the teaching of gay relationships in schools (64% v. 23%).
Though, we shouldn’t then assume that progress is inevitable. The support for these pro-LGBT viewpoints is mainly down to the LGBT Rights Movement, which has exposed prejudice and discrimination, and put forward the case for equality. And, in doing so has turned the tide of opinion, in favour of further equality. But, now is not the time to be complacent. Instead, now is the time to fight harder than ever, for the rights of The LGBT Community — so that its next generation won’t have to face the same discrimination the one before it did.