Happy Pride month!

Written by Ross Thomas

Happy Pride month!

I see it as a three-pronged opportunity to:

  • celebrate equality, diversity and inclusion in its widest sense
  • take stock of what the LGBTQ+ community has achieved
  • pledge ourselves anew to campaign for positive change, recognising that for too many LGBTQ+ people the world-over, equality is yet to be achieved

Every now and again, I hear people intimate “…you’ve got your rights, what’s the need for Pride?”

Ah! Well – there has been progress in some rights, for some people, in some places… but for others, little to no progress, or even a backward slide. It is impossible to ignore that Pride 2023 comes at a time of increased polarisation of social attitudes, no less for the trans community which has faced a barrage of hate and anti-trans sentiment in recent months.

And therein lies the risk: complacency. It can happen in all walks of life, especially for those with protected characteristics and more so again when you take into account intersectionality. History tells us that rights are rarely easily won. In fact, in many cases, aside from dogged determination and political pressure, the battle to have rights introduced and respected can be ugly.

And so it is true that rights can easily be watered down, stripped back or scrapped entirely. It’s why Pride is so important.

You need only look to the near continent to witness how rights can change depending on the attitudes of those in power; the new government in Italy, for example, rowing back on parental rights for same-sex parents or the increase in hate-speech across Europe and Central Asia, fuelled by prominent, right-wing politicians. If and when ‘normalised’ into every-day language, it only serves to embolden those who hold views of prejudice. Only last year, there were two fatal attacks on the streets of European capital cities – one outside a gay venue in Oslo, killing two people, and another in Bratislava, also killing two people.

Just a couple of weeks back, on International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia, ILGA Europe published its 2023 ‘Rainbow Map’, benchmarking 49 European countries on legal and policy stances for LGBT+ people. Its findings weren’t necessarily much of a surprise – broadly, Northern and Western Europe ranks highly.

Interestingly, Malta takes the top spot scoring 89%, followed by Belgium, Denmark and Spain. The UK holds a middle-ranking spot at 53% – we know there is work to do!

At the bottom of the scale, considered to be ‘gross violation of human rights and discrimination’ Azerbaijan (2%), Turkey (4%), Russia and Armenia (=8%).

In Wales, we have a devolved government committed to ensuring we are “…Europe’s most LGBT+ friendly nation. That’s a pledge backed by an Action Plan, helpfully shaped by stakeholders from across the spectrum. But plans only come to life with sustained commitment – and in this case, powered by a sense of social justice and equality. It’s with that in mind that we look not just to safeguard progress to date, but to enhance it.

So this Pride month, take a chance to think about how you or your organisation can help contribute to that sense of inclusivity in order that we can continue making strides towards equality for all.

Ross Thomas is Head of Policy & Public Affairs at Tai Pawb

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