Since 2005, the UK has celebrated LGBT+ History Month every February – to mark the repeal of Section 28, a part of legislation which prohibited the ‘promotion of homosexuality’. The month is a chance to celebrate, remember and reflect on the LGBT+ activists who have passionately fought and continue to fight for the equality of all in the community.
The Liberal Democrats have a rich history of LGBT+ liberation: it was our current leader, Ed Davey, who moved the motion which abolished Section 28 in Parliament, whilst Lynne Featherstone fought for the introduction of same-sex marriage whilst in government. In Wales, Kirsty Williams has introduced compulsory inclusion of queer identities in sex education and gender-neutral school uniforms.
Making LGBT+ history is also something the Liberal Democrats can be proud of. Former Young Liberals Vice Chair Bernard Greaves became the first openly gay man to hold national office in a UK political party – and is remembered fondly for passing a ‘men dancing with men’ motion at Young Liberal conference in 1972. Another historic moment involves Jenny Bailey became the first transgender mayor in the UK, serving as mayor for Cambridge from 2007-2008. In 2013, MP John Leech, the architecture of the Alan Turing law, secured the pardons of Alan Turing and over 75,000 other people convicted of homosexuality. More recently, Layla Moran became the first openly pansexual person to serve in parliament and last year won the Pink Award for ‘Politician of the Year’ for her campaigning in Parliament. As well as this, Jo Swinson gained praise throughout her time as leader for passionately fighting the rights of trans and non-binary people.
LGBT+ History Month gives us a chance to reflect on those LGBT+ heroes that fought for our community. Throughout time, famous LGBT+ figureheads have helped shaped the UK, including the likes of William Shakespeare, who was open about his relationships with men. Writers such as, Alan Turing whose smarts helped the victory of the allied forces during World War Two and Vita Sackville-West who shared stories of relationships with other women. Musician Elton John whose philanthropy has helped to try and end the stigma of those infected with HIV.
Thanks to the activists of the past, we can celebrate who we are today. Pride is celebrated across the country, including Black Pride which began 15 years ago to celebrate African, Asian, Middle Eastern, Latin American and Caribbean-heritage LGBTQ+ people.
LGBT+ History Month is particularly important to celebrate in schools, where we can use this month as a platform to share the struggles the LGBT+ community have faced in the past and continue to face. It is also a platform to teach the students about inclusion and celebrations of the LGBT+ community and the contribution we have in society today. Each year, a theme is given, and this year’s theme is ‘Body, Mind and Spirit’ linked to the subject of PSHE.