“Pride must remain a protest – there is still too much to fight for to let Pride become merely a celebration, a chance for businesses to fly a rainbow flag to promote themselves.”
By Kate Osborne MP
54 years ago, courageous activists fought back against discrimination in the Stonewall riots.
As Pride Month comes to an end, we should remember this pivotal moment in history but also remember why it is so important to continue to protest and fight for our LGBTQ+ community.
Pride is a protest where we stand up and fight inequality – calling out homophobia, biphobia and transphobia still experienced by the LGBTQ+ community.
During this Pride Month we have seen a government that is intent on rowing back on the hard fought for rights that LGBTQ+ individuals have in this country.
We have seen multiple attacks on our LGBTQ+ community from petitions to Parliament to politicians in the Chamber bringing ten-minute rule bills that would force schools to out children to their parents to the Prime Minister himself making jokes at the expense of our Trans community.
We have seen attempts to take us back to the days of Section 28 – where it was forbidden to talk about LGBT people in schools. In fact if the Government have their way, it will be worse than Section 28 – forcing teachers to out kids to their parents – and putting them at risk in the process.
2023 marks twenty years since Section 28 was repealed, and yet the fear-mongering and hostile environment we are seeing today towards transgender individuals is reminiscent of the battles we had in the 80s, the same vitriolic language and inflammatory rhetoric – the vilification of trans youth – and the attacks on those of us who are speaking out.
For standing up for our community in Pride Month I myself have been called a nonce, had threats on twitter and a tirade of homophobic abuse.
This is why Pride must remain a protest – there is still too much to fight for to let Pride become merely a celebration, a chance for businesses to fly a rainbow flag to promote themselves.
The reality is LGBTQ+ rights have gone backwards under Sunak. The UK have plummeted in the equality rankings – in 2015 we were number one in Europe – now down to 17th and likely to fall further.
This Government continues to escalate tensions with its war on woke – throwing minorities and LGBTQ+ people under the bus to distract from the Tory made cost of living crisis.
MPs must ask what side of history will they be on, as when LGBT populations came under attack from homophobes, and when AIDS arrived in the UK.
Growing up LGBTQ+ is still unacceptably tough – 42% of LGBTQ+ pupils have been bullied in the past year, twice the number of non-LGBTQ+ pupils.
Our society has come a long way in recognising LGBTQ+ rights, from legalising same-sex marriage to being officially counted as part of the Census. But we must all continue to stand in solidarity and fight against discrimination, as there are still parts of our community under attack.
This is unsurprising when the Government has consistently used trans people as a political football. In blocking the Scottish Gender Recognition Reform Bill, they failed the most marginalised in our community, proving that they will go to great lengths to stoke a culture war in our society. So much so that they are putting real lives of real people on the line and using dangerous rhetoric to vilify and dehumanise them.
Anti-trans campaigners argue that by fighting to remove inclusivity in schools they are making children and young adults safer, yet the opposite is happening. Recent research by the charity Just Like Us found that LGBTQ+ young adults were three times more likely to face a mental health condition than their non-LGBTQ+ counterparts.
Putting limitations on how individuals can identify, and their freedom to do so, is not creating a safe environment and it is undeniable to me that as the toxic debate around the transgender community grows, the review into RSE is being used by some to push the anti-trans agenda.
The Conservative Party argues, along with anti-trans campaigners, that they are protecting women by restricting the rights of transgender individuals. If the Tories really cared about women, they would tackle the gender health gap, deal with the poor conviction rates for people who have committed violence against women and girls and address the gender pay gap.
Trans rights are human rights, they are not a game.
Pride to me means continuing to fight for equality, yes to celebrating our diversity, but also pledging to keep standing up for the LGBTQ+ community and to fight off this government’s attempts to legislate us out of existence.
- Kate Osborne is the MP for Jarrow and a regular contributor to Labour Outlook. You can follow her on Facebook, twitter and Instagram.
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