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Celebrating the journey towards a more accepting world

by Sarah Dimmelow, Chief Operating Officer

“Love one another”; sounds so simple. This straightforward entreaty sits at the heart of ethics – whether your touchstone is the Bible or Aristotle’s agape love – and is intended to guide our daily interactions. In any values-driven organisation, it acts as a rudder steering organisational practice, interactions with those for whom we are responsible, and collegiate relationships. But for LGBT colleagues, that is not always the case.

Some of us in the LGBT community have witnessed change that we never dreamed possible as teens coming to terms with our identity. I find myself happily married, two beautiful children and a life where laws protect me from discrimination as a citizen and as an employee. I am privileged to live in a city where diversity is celebrated. And, most days, I can blissfully forget the pain and suffering of those LGBT activists upon whose shoulders I stand. Most days. But not every day.

We all saw in the news recently the tragic death of Dr Gary Jenkins, tortured and killed in a homophobic attack in Cardiff. And the less serious although nonetheless insidious circumstance where a gay couple in Essex were refused the right to buy a house simply because they were gay and the sellers did not approve. Statistics evidence that hate crimes related to sexual orientation and gender identity have increased year on year since 2015. In the first three months of 2020, “sexual orientation hate crimes rose by 19% to 15,835, and transgender identity hate crimes by 16% to 2,540 – averaging more than 50 reports each day”. Stonewall says that since 2017, four out of five of such incidents go unreported. Laws against hate crimes do not stop hate crimes:

  • Almost one in five LGBT people (18 per cent) have experienced homelessness at some point in their lives.
  • More than a third of LGBT staff (35%) have hidden that they are LGBT at work for fear of discrimination.
  • One in four trans people (26%) aren’t open with anyone at work about being trans. This number increases to about two in five non-binary people (37%) who aren’t out at work.
  • Almost one in five LGBT staff (18%) have been the target of negative comments or conduct from work colleagues because they’re LGBT.
  • Two-thirds (64%) of LGBTQ+ people had experienced anti-LGBT+ violence or abuse.
  • Of these, 9 in 10 (92%) had experienced verbal abuse, 3 in 10 (29%) had experienced physical violence and 2 in 10 (17%) had experienced sexual violence.
  • 42% of LGBT+ school pupils have been bullied in the past year, double the number of non-LGBT+ pupils (21%).
  • Almost one in four LGBT people (23%) have witnessed discriminatory or negative remarks against LGBT people by healthcare staff.
  • Seven in ten trans people (70%) report being impacted by transphobia when accessing general health services

[Statistics courtesy of Stonewall]

In LGBT History Month, we rightly celebrate the journey towards a more accepting world and those who passed the torch to us. As hate targets us, we are increasingly aware of how fragile that acceptance is. So as we celebrate, we also commit ourselves to a future of acceptance and a more values-driven world where “Love is love”.

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