It is more than 50 years since the first UK Pride march – when hundreds of LGBTQIA+ people and their allies gathered in London to protest a society where we were not safe to be ourselves. Physiotherapy student Sam Hopkins reflects on why we still need Pride
As we find ourselves in UK Pride Month, we once again prepare ourselves for the annual debate: ‘Do we still need Pride anyway? Really? A whole month?’ Same-sex marriage is legal in the UK, and LGBTQIA+ people have legal protection against discrimination.
But beyond the rainbow capitalism of various corporations zhuzhing up their logos for 30 days, Pride month is an opportunity to discuss how far we’ve come – and how much further the UK needs to go. A political and social storm has put the safety and well-being of LGBTQIA+ people in increasing jeopardy, particularly for transgender and non-binary people. Home Office figures last year show a 56 per cent rise in hate crimes against transgender people and a 42 per cent rise in homophobic hate crimes. In 2021, a study found that LGBT+ youths were twice as likely to contemplate suicide, with a staggering 89 per cent of Black LGBT+ young people having experienced suicidal thoughts.
Homosexuality is still criminalised in 64 countries. In America, 474 anti-LGBTQIA+ bills have been introduced in state legislatures, including a push to ban access to gender-affirming health care for trans youth and a ban on drag performances.
Just last month, UN independent expert Victor Madrigal-Borloz released an 18-page statement of concern, after visiting the UK, about the impact of current political and social narratives on the rights of LGBTQIA+ persons, the final line of which reads: ‘The evidence shows that there is nothing to fear in the existence of LGBT persons, and much to celebrate in the diversity that they bring to our common humanity. Keep calm. Examine the evidence. Respect diversity.’
So on 1 July the CSP LGBTQIA+ network, alongside allies, will don biodegradable glitter, placards in hand, and march in Pride London not just to celebrate how far we’ve come, but also to fight for the protection of LGBTQIA+ people. Soon after, corporation logos will return to their original colours but for us, the fight will continue. You can support your LGBTQIA+ colleagues and patients – this month and beyond – by displaying the CSP’s new posters in staff and waiting rooms, as part the Call Out Microaggressions campaign.
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