February is LGBT+ History Month. Initiated in the UK by Schools Out UK, the first took place in February 2005, to raise awareness and fight prejudice against the LBGT+ community. The overall aim of LGBT+ History Month is to promote equality and diversity for the benefit of the public. This is done by:
- Increasing the visibility of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (“LGBT+”) people, their history, lives and their experiences in the curriculum and culture of educational and other institutions, and the wider community;
- Raising awareness and advancing education on matters affecting the LGBT+ community;
- Working to make educational and other institutions safe spaces for all LGBT+ communities;
- Promoting the welfare of LGBT+ people, by ensuring that the education system recognises and enables LGBT+ people to achieve their full potential, so they contribute fully to society and lead fulfilled lives, thus benefiting society as a whole.
LGBT+ History Month is an opportunity to review, reflect, and celebrate LGBT+ rights and how they have changed and adapted over the centuries and moulded the community today. A question which often gets asked: Why do we need LGBT+ History Month?
1. It is important to remember those without rights.
There are still 71 jurisdictions/countries in the world where ‘private, consensual, same-sex activity’ is criminalised. 11 of these still have the death penalty: Iran, Northern Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Yemen, Afghanistan, Brunei, Mauritania, Pakistan, Qatar and UAE
2. Remember laws which made us rise up.
The first publication which suggested punishment for homosexuals was ‘Fleta’ in 1290, and The Buggery Act 1533 was the first time that male homosexuality was targeted for persecution in the UK, punishable by death. Luckily, people have been fighting it ever since! Generally, since The Wolfenden Report in 1957, I think that rights have been on a slow and steady rise, well, apart from Margaret Thatcher’s government and Section 28.
This year’s theme “The Arc is Long” is inspired by a Martin Luther King quote:
‘The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.’
The quote is thought to mean that although it is taking a long time, we are curving/moving towards social justice and fairness.
This theme provides us with the opportunity to explore the idea of social justice and changing attitudes towards LGBT+ people. While we have come a long way in terms of inclusion and attitudes towards same gender relationships and equal marriage, there is still a great deal of work that can happen in terms of positive trans (including non-binary) representation and inclusion.
To find out more about LGBT+ History Month visit: LGBT+ History Month – The Proud Trust