LGBT History Month reminds us how far the community has come, but battles remain for equality.

This year’s LGBT History Month, which takes place throughout February, focuses on the theme of citizenship, PSHE, and law, to mark the 50th anniversary of the decriminalisation of male homosexuality in England and Wales (Scotland and Northern Ireland wouldn’t decriminalise until 1981 and 1982 respectively). It’s a time where local councils, government departments, and other public and private sector buildings fly the rainbow flag in a show of increasing tolerance and solidarity to its LGBT employees and the wider public.

As a gay guy, I find such acts a comfort, and proof of how far the community has come in its fight for equality over the decades, and in the past 20 years specifically: equality in the age of consent; civil partnerships; equal marriage; the Gender Recognition Act; the repeal of Section 28 (and the subsequent apology from then PM, David Cameron); the ability for LGBT people to openly serve in the military – the list is long.

But more can, and must, be done – especially with regards to the trans segment of the community, which continues to find itself playing catch up in terms of ‘acceptance’ from society and in legislature.

Home Office statistics released in 2016 revealed that of the 62,518 hate crime offences recorded by police in 2015/16, 12% were motived by the victim’s sexual orientation, while 1% was against transgender people. Such a stat would suggest hate crime against trans people was very much in the minority, but figures from Stonewall (citing research from the 2012 Trans Mental Health Report from Gender Identity Research and Education Society) reveal that over a third – 38 percent – had experienced physical intimidation and threats, while 81 percent had experienced so-called ‘silent’ harassment.

In fact, trust in the police to actually follow up and seriously investigate hate crimes of the trans and wider LGBT community is stubbornly low. Two-thirds of LGBT individuals who experienced a hate crime or incident did not report it to anyone, let alone the police. The fact that less than 10 percent of victims who reported hate crimes to the authorities said it led to a conviction further undermines the Home Office stats.

It’s a sad fact that such are the levels of discrimination experienced by trans people, that The Equalities Review in 2007 stated more than a third of trans adults – 34.4 percent – had attempted suicide once, with 14 percent attempting suicide at least twice. Last month on Political Intrigue I commented on how the fight for trans rights has to continue. As LGBT History Month takes place, we can only hope that battles continue to be won, so that stark facts and figures like these also become part of the past.

More information on LGBT History Month can be found at: http://lgbthistorymonth.org.uk/

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