Philip Baldwin 

It is difficult writing about Pride Month. Many of the LGBTQ+ rights achievements of the past two decades are now under threat. There is a sense that after 13 years in government, the Conservative Party is lacking in both talent and ideas to meet the challenges faced by people in Britain today.

Credit: Mareike Günsche

Squeezed between Labour and the Liberal Democrats they have resorted to fuelling culture wars, often at the expense of LGBTQ+ people. A general election cannot come soon enough. Every month they are in power they damage our country further.  

The current government is considering changing the definition of ‘sex’ to ‘biological sex’ in the Equality Act 2010, which would have profound implications for trans people. Beginning a process of dismantling this important piece of legislation is dangerous for all LGBTQ+ people and for anyone protected under the Act. Furthermore, it would undermine the protections afforded by the Gender Recognition Act 2004. A few years ago, the perception was that the Gender Recognition Act needed to be updated and strengthened. Now the government wants to invalidate it.  

There has also been an attack on LGBTQ+ education in schools. Having been bullied myself at school for being gay and as a Stonewall School Role Model from 2016 to 2021, where I visited many schools, I know how vital LGBTQ+ education is. LGBTQ+ people should be under no illusions that the current government is looking to roll back our rights by up to 25 years. And don’t take it for granted that adoption rights or equal marriage won’t be next. Increasingly desperate, I am shocked every week by the new depths the Conservative Party sinks to on LGBTQ+ and human rights. 

In terms of Pride Month and the Pride events taking place across our country, they are now more important than ever. I understand that you may want to enjoy yourself and party. However, we are in the midst of a trans moral panic, hate crime is soaring, a meaningful ban on conversion practices seems elusive and LGBTQ+ people claiming asylum often have their lives destroyed by the process. 

For this reason, Pride needs to be more of a protest than ever. Again, in terms of protesting the Conservative Party have fundamentally attacked this democratic right. As we witnessed at the coronation of Charles III, peaceful republican protesters were rounded up beforehand and arrested without any reason given.  

The hypocrisy of the government’s stance on protests is almost unimaginable. On the one hand they pontificate on the importance of freedom of speech, how gender critical views must be heard and the dangers of so-called cancel culture. However, when the majority object to their increasingly far-right policies, they use every mechanism to silence people. 

By law, the police do still need to inform you why you are being arrested. Make sure you know your rights. Attend protests with friends and do not get isolated, as this will make it more difficult for the police to corner you and misrepresent your behaviour. Also, you do not have to speak to the police if they try to speak to you. Do not be rude, but just smile politely and walk away. One of my friends recently told me that he always attends protests wearing a suit now. 

I am not suggesting we all go suited and wearing loafers to Pride. Pride parades should still be safe places to express yourself and display placards. This year, for Pride, maybe see which organisations are taking part and find out if you can march with them? Think about the LGBTQ+ issue that concerns you most and prepare a placard. Post to your socials and share your concerns with straight allies, who may not be aware of what is happening. And then afterwards, enjoy the party! 

instagram.com/philipcbaldwin 

 

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