The Importance of Pride

With Lincoln hosting its Pride festival for the LGBT community this last weekend, it is important to remember why the LGBT community still holds these events, not only up and down the country, but across the world.

Although LGBT rights have come a long way since the decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1967 across England and Wales; such as the end of Section 28, Civil Partnership and now Equal Marriage, adoption rights for LGBT couples, being openly gay in the British forces and an the right to legally change your gender; there are still some areas that need to be tackled.

Lincoln Pride flag in 2009
Lincoln Pride in 2009

The LGBT community still faces opposition and discrimination in many forms. It was reported by The Lincolnite last week that many homes within the city received a leaflet through their door condemning homosexuality. This comes after similar events in Leicester and Brighton. I respect people’s right to have an opinion and to express it; however the leaflets residents received pushed the bounds of decency and locals never requested to receive such opinions through their letterboxes. It has caused offence to many members of the community whether they are gay or straight and I am pleased the police are taking this matter seriously.

There are also still large numbers of incidents of members of the LGBT community who are attacked simply for being who they are. In 2011/2012, the UK saw over 4,000 incidents of ‘gay bashing’ with some police forces showing a rise of up to 40%. A survey, published in 2013, showed that a quarter of gay people had been attacked at some point in their lives across the European Union.

Lib Dems marching at Brighton Pride in 2010
LGBT+ Lib Dems at Brighton Pride in 2010

We need to head abroad for the biggest challenges in the fight for LGBT rights. Across the world, 81 countries still have laws that make homosexuality illegal; from Algeria through Egypt and Morocco to Zimbabwe in Africa, Afghanistan and India to Singapore and Yemen in Asia and the Middle East, Barbados to Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago in the Caribbean. But 38 of these countries have laws that make homosexuality punishable by death. I find the possibility of someone being punished by death for being gay intolerable.

We have also seen an anti-gay propaganda law in Russia passed by President Putin which has led to a number of attacks and arrests through the country on members of the LGBT community.

London Pride March 2010
London Pride March in 2010

I am pleased to see that that Lincoln Pride is continuing to grow from strength to strength over the last couple of years. The LGBT community is part of a diverse and growing city, and I am happy that so many people supported the event, even though I could not make the event myself. The comments from The Lincolnite‘s coverage of Lincoln Pride also show that many people still do not understand the true meaning of why Pride takes place. More education should take place in our schools as to equality and diversity to help people understand the need for such an event.

We do need to remember that many of the LGBT community across the global are not so lucky. By the LGBT coming together to celebrate, it gives us time to reflect that this country, despite coming a long way since the 1960s, we have a long way to go before true equality here and a duty to help other LGBT communities across the world.