At last the first Same Sex Marriages can take place in England & Wales (with Scotland to follow later this year) and couples may celebrate their love and commitment with each other. It has certainly been a real pleasure over the last few months to have worked with registrars across South Wales to help them understand the issues faced by Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people and I’m looking forward to being a guest at my first Equal Marriage ceremony in June 2014!
It has been a long journey towards equality in the UK from the 16th century (when homosexual acts were first made illegal) through the late 20th century when talking about same sex couples in school was legislated against (Section 28, Local Government Act 1988) to the Civil Partnership Act in 2004 and finally the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013. With various steps on the way to equalise the age of consent and ensure same sex couples are not discriminated against in employment or in the provision of goods and services, is the battle over?
Legislation is now in place to stop open discrimination against Lesbian, Gay Bisexual and Transgender people but this does not stop people being more subtle in how they choose to discriminate. Stonewall’s School Report 2012 shows that young people still face bullying on a daily basis (55% of those surveyed) and yet teachers still seem reluctant to address (60% of those surveyed stated that teachers did not intervene). Let’s not forget homophobic bullying in our schools is not limited to Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual people, anyone regardless of their sexual orientation may find themselves subjected to this form of attack.
Work needs to continue to change attitudes and ensure that everyone may expect to live their lives to the fullest without fear of discrimination and attack. We’re really pleased to be doing our part to address this through delivering awareness sessions in the workplace and in schools.