The Ongoing Struggle

A man dancing in the street in a pink t-shirt

Violence against the LGBTQ+ community did not stop with Stonewall. Violence and oppression motivated by hate continues today. 

Werk for Peace

Werk For Peace was set up in response to the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, the worst incident in history of violence against the LGBTQ+ community in the US. The project aims to use dance as a form of peaceful protest, bringing people together through the healing powers of dance. Their project WerkNotWalls advocates for bridge building and a “world free from violence, oppression and occupation”. 

A woman dancing in the street with a Pride flag

© Werk For Peace

A man dancing in the street in a pink t-shirt

© Werk For Peace

Dorchester Protest

In early 2019, the Sultan of Brunei introduced new strict Islamic laws that would include punishing gay sex with death by stoning or flogging. This led to international outcry and calls to boycott luxury hotels around the world owned by the Sultan. In April there were a series of peaceful protests at the Dorchester Hotel in London calling for the British Royal Family and the Commonwealth to cut ties with the Sultan based on this. Some activists staged a peaceful protest inside the restaurant, using loudspeakers to call for a boycott.

As of May 2019, the Sultan has stated that in the midst of international backlash, boycotts and peaceful protests the death penalty will not be enforced. However activists are still concerned that the laws remain in the penal code and show no sign of being repealed.

You can watch a video of this peaceful protest by Jordan Tannahill, Crispin Lord and Nick Finegan in April 2019 filmed by Andy Field here:

Watch the video
A protest outside of The Dorchester hotel in London

© Ella Braidwood/PinkNews.

© Ella Braidwood/PinkNews.

© Ella Braidwood/PinkNews.

© Ella Braidwood/PinkNews.

© Ella Braidwood/PinkNews.

© Ella Braidwood/PinkNews.

Placard reading: Trans Women Are Women

Two placards 'Trans Women are Women’ and 'This Lesbian Supports Trans Women'. The placards were used at Leeds Pride 2018 where Trans Groups led the march in response to a transphobic protest at London Pride and a general transphobic climate in the media.
© ‘West Yorkshire Queer Stories’.

Gender Identity

Trans issues and gender identity has come to the forefront in recent years since more legal equality was given to gay, lesbian and bisexual people. There have been some steps to legal equality for transgender people; the 2004 Gender Recognition Act allows people to legally change their gender. However, many campaigners feel this does not go far enough and does not recognise the complex nature of the gender spectrum. It remains a difficult and long process to change your gender, requiring multiple medical milestones and often taking years to the reach the top of waiting lists.

In May 2021, it was announced that the government had disbanded an LGBT Advisory Panel because of disagreements over self identification for gender recognition certificates. Currently, adult trans men and women can apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) under the Gender Recognition Act (GRA), which allows for a new birth certificate to be issued in the correct sex. However, they are required to provide medical reports and have a diagnosis of gender dysphoria before they can apply for a GRC. A 2018 public consultation showed public support for removing this requirement.

Some feel there has been a cultural backlash against trans people now there is more visibility and recognition of gender diversity within the media. There are also divisions within the wider LGBTQ+ community and clashes with some feminists who feel that trans women are a threat to women’s rights. On the other hand, activists have argued that as transfolk were systematically excluded from historical Gay Liberation movements, it is now the duty of the LGBTQ+ community to rally around the trans community to help them fight for their rights. Whilst there is still progress to be made on multiple fronts in the LGBTQ+ community, and many worthy causes being fought by hard working activists, the trans community remains one of the most vulnerable with higher risk of violence, discrimination, homelessness and mental health issues.

There are various organisations that campaign for trans rights, including Transmission in Bradford, who provide trans spectrum information and support.

Placard reading: This Lesbian Supports Trans Women

Two placards 'Trans Women are Women’ and 'This Lesbian Supports Trans Women'. The placards were used at Leeds Pride 2018 where Trans Groups led the march in response to a transphobic protest at London Pride and a general transphobic climate in the media.
© ‘West Yorkshire Queer Stories’.

Pro-trans march in Manchester, UK

Manchester Lesbians Stand By Your Trans, courtesy of Rosanne Robertson.

LQBTQ+ Education

In early 2019, a series of protests took place in Birmingham by some parents and Muslim and Evangelical Christian organisations that opposed the No Outsiders programme; a series of lessons which aimed to show a broad range of different families and relationships, including those involving LGBTQ+ individuals. Campaigners against the lessons raised fears about the sexualising of children and falsely claimed that teachers were demonstrating gay sex positions with clay dolls, claims which have been disputed by the school, teachers and fellow parents.

In September 2020, the UK government made it compulsory for schools to teach about sexual orientation and gender identities. Pupils will learn about consent, relationships, contraceptives, pornography, LGBTQ+ rights and using the internet safely. All schools, including faith schools, have to comply. It is the first change in sex education in 18 years.

Marriage Equality

In the UK, same-sex marriage has been recognised and performed in England and Wales since March 2014, followed by Scotland in December 2014. In Northern Ireland it did not become legal until January 2020.

In Northern Ireland, campaigners have worked tirelessly to achieve marriage equality through peaceful activism. Celebrations took place across Northern Ireland to mark it becoming legal in January 2020. The first same-sex marriage took place on the 11th February 2020 between Robyn Peoples and Sharni Edwards from Belfast.

Mural of the first same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland, painted by Emma Blake

Mural created by street artist Emma Blake from the Hit the North art festival in Belfast, 2018. It was painted in Kent Street Car Park in Belfast city centre and called for same-sex marriage to be legalised in Northern Ireland. Emma has created multiple street murals to peacefully campaign for the improvement of LGBTQ+ rights across the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and across the world. Credit: © Emma Blake

Lyra McKee

Lyra McKee grew up working class and gay in Northern Ireland. At home, Mckee was a primary carer for her disabled mother whilst dealing with her own speech and hearing impairment. In her career, McKee was an investigative journalist and known as someone who would “tirelessly pursue the truth”. She faced difficulty in her career in a profession that was biased against her on the basis of her class, and often had to undertake unpaid internships to pursue her passion.

Her journalistic work was informed by her work as a vocal social critic and activist. She campaigned for LGBTQ+ (both LGB and T) rights in Northern Ireland and for peace and justice.

McKee was shot dead on the 18th of April 2019 whilst reporting on unrest in Derry by a gunman believed to be a member of the New IRA. The New IRA, a dissident republican group in NI, claimed the shot was intended to hit the police. She was 29 when she died.

Murak of Lyra McKee, painted by Emma Blake

Mural from Hit the North street art festival in 2019. It is a tribute piece to Lyra McKee, painted on Kent Street in Belfast city centre directly across from another piece of street art painted by Emic. There are photos of Lyra posing in front of this mural online. Credit: © Emma Blake