On the Need to Deal with a Legacy of (Continuing) Discriminatory Attitudes

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2006 National LGBT Conference
28 July 2006
Carried as Amended

Conference notes the very long and extensive reach of a legacy that pervades the whole of our culture and society, with regard to the treatment of LGBT people.

Whilst there has been recent progress, including the removal of discriminatory laws, provision for same sex couples and some public bodies that are ready to be supportive of LGBT equality Conference notes that:

1.The past legacy of homophobia still affects us today. This includes many people who have been brought up without awareness of LGBT people and hence the continued presence of discriminatory attitudes and practices;

2.Legal equality in our society is still very recent, with all of the major recent gains in our legal situation occurring after 2000. The vast majority of today’s LGBT community grew up under a thoroughly discriminatory regime;

3.There continue to be powerful forces in society that denigrate LGBT people and support discriminatory attitudes towards us.

4.Notably in regard to religious institutions, such practices are sanctioned by the exemptions from legal protections from discrimination, which in many cases is accompanied by outright hostility towards LGBT people which Conference judges to be both unacceptable and unconscionable (especially noting the impact of religious views on children and young people via faith schools and the family);

5.Fear of violence continues for all of us (how many of us feel safe enough to hold our partner’s hand in public?) as well as in many instances actual violence;

6.Continued evidence of health inequalities in areas such as depression and self harm, anxiety, smoking, alcohol and drug use and under-funding of sexual health services go hand in hand with relative disregard of LGBT health concerns.

Conference, while welcoming recent legislative advances, believes that justice and fairness necessitates the need for effective redress against the backdrop of this legacy – it is not enough to remove the harm there needs to be an effective form of equalisation and only this will be effective in bringing about real equality.

Whilst affirming this analysis for the LGBT communities, Conference believes that this will also be valid for race, gender and disability based disadvantage and discrimination.

Conference believes such an agenda must entail the following:

A.Active support for the LGBT community by government at local and national levels (LGBT organisations, LGBT events such as Pride and LGBT History Month);

B.Active support for the development of young people’s identities as LGBT people through schools and young people’s services with clear strategies to address Homophobic bullying;

C.Clear support for same sex and trans parents as equally valid family units and clear equality in family and relationship law;

D.Leisure and cultural services that are LGBT affirming and inclusive;

E.Assistance to people coming to terms with negative experiences of organised religion;

F.Clearly defined legislation against harassment (in any context – not just employment and goods, facilities and services), incitement to hatred and incitement to violence, with a high profile commitment by public bodies to enforce this;

G.A clear, high profile duty for public bodies to promote equality across all equality strands;

H.A commitment to older LGBT people who have borne the brunt of the worst of society’s homophobia so that they will be cared for in old age with particular regard to the need to protect them from further homophobic abuse and ensure their needs are not disregarded given their overwhelmingly negative experiences of the past.

Conference believes that only such a clear, comprehensive LGBT equality agenda can even begin to deal with a legacy of discrimination and prejudice that continues to impact on our lives and communities. Merely removing discriminatory laws is not enough – true equality is required.

Conference therefore calls on the National Committee to incorporate these issues in to its ongoing campaigns on comprehensive equality legislation and work on the Single Equality Act, provision of goods and services and work towards addressing the need for LGBT visibility.