Michael Gill Co- Chair of Riverside’s LGBT staff group Spectrum discusses why it is important to continue to work toward LGBTQIA+ equality, diversity, and inclusion, and have visible role models and supportive allies.
I decided to write a blog for this year’s IDAHOBIT event to draw attention to ongoing issues and discrimination around the world.
But first, what is IDAHOBIT?
IDAHOBLIT (International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia, Lesbophobia and Transphobia) is an awareness day created in 2004 to draw attention to the violence and discrimination experienced by LGBTQ+ people. The date of May 17 was chosen to commemorate the World Health Organisation’s decision in 1990 to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder. The 2022 theme is ‘Our bodies, Our rights, Our choice’.
I delivered a number of training sessions last summer with Lyn Bowker called ‘What’s it all about LGBTQIA+’. In this session we covered Allport’s Scale of Prejudice, which describes how low-level incidents of prejudice and discrimination are just the foundation in pyramid to extreme consequences. This research was based on how the Holocaust happened and the processes that the German society went through and the passivity of internal and external bystanders.
The scale is in five layers:
- Anti-locution: bad mouthing, gossiping etc.
- Physical attacks
This video explains well https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SHNZiDcU8Dg
You may be thinking that this is quite abstract, this is just history and in the past, but I’d like you to think about these examples from around the world and here in the UK.
- Current attitudes to LGBT Rights in Russia and anti-LGBT+ Legislation Love Russia, hate homophobia | Peter Tatchell Foundation
- LGBT camps in Chechnya Anti-gay purges in Chechnya – Wikipedia
- There are still 71 countries that criminalise consensual same sex relations and 11 countries which still have the death penalty for same sex activity and 15 countries that criminalise gender identity and expression of transgender people. Maps of anti-LGBT Laws Country by Country | Human Rights Watch (hrw.org) & Map of Countries that Criminalise LGBT People | Human Dignity Trust
- LGBT free zones in Poland https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/stories-54191344 , Inside Poland’s ‘LGBT-Free’ Zones | Insider Docs – YouTube, In Poland’s ‘LGBT-free zones,’ existing is an act of defiance – CNN.com.
- LGBT Rights in Brunei where sex between two men has the death penalty by stoning and gender affirming surgery is banned
Sadly, we have our own home-grown issues here in the UK with many examples of negative messaging in the media especially regarding anti- trans rhetoric such as:
- The fact that conversion therapy exists for LGBT+ people in the UK and around the world. Some suggested viewing Pray the Gay away and Boy erased and Ban conversion therapy picket of Cabinet Office | Peter Tatchell Foundation
- The fear that is perpetrated about Transwomen as predatory and a threat to cis-women in gendered spaces: Trans ‘extremists’ and ‘rapists’: How the media reported on trans people in 2018 (pinknews.co.uk)
This paints quite a grim picture, and that is why it is important for Riverside to continue its work LGBTQIA+ equality, diversity, and inclusion and also why we need visible role models in leadership and our allies supporting us. We’ve made great progress on this over the years and have been recognised as the most friendly LGBTQIA+ housing association in England in the Stonewall Top 100 Work Equality Index, with our highest ever ranking of number 12.