During #LGBTHistoryMonth, we reflect on how far we’ve come in the struggle for LGBTQ+ rights and we celebrate the lives of the LGBTQ+ activists and allies that came before us.
We know that we cannot be complacent. Unfortunately, we’re in an age where it can feel like our rights are at risk of being rolled back. As LGBTQ+ people we all too often still face discrimination and harassment.
We must learn lessons and redouble our efforts towards greater equality.
In Wales, we stand for unity over division, inclusion rather than exclusion and hope not hate. Everybody deserves to feel safe to be themselves, free from fear and discrimination.
I want to see a Wales where people like me don’t need to wonder whether it is safe to hold our partner’s hand in public; a Wales where slurs and snide remarks – whether online or on the streets – are no longer commonplace, and a Wales where hate is consigned to history.
Just over eighteen months ago, Dr Gary Jenkins was murdered in a homophobic attack in the heart of our capital city. A man remembered by loved ones as a ‘kind soul’ who was ‘incredibly generous’, his death was a terrible and tragic reminder of the hate our LGBTQ+ communities continue to face.
Forty years ago, gay people were subject to hateful slurs and prejudiced attacks. Today, trans people are being subjected to a similar barrage of hate-fuelled tirades. Our trans communities are hurting, they’re afraid, and they’re experiencing harm. As a society, we can and must do better than this.
Their struggle, along with the deep sorrow and injustice still being felt following the death of Dr Gary Jenkins, are appalling reminders that we still have a very long way to go in the campaign for equality.
Extending rights for one group does not mean eroding rights from another. We do not believe improving rights for trans women will damage rights for cisgender women and girls.
We stand with all our LGBTQ+ communities and remain committed to supporting trans and non-binary people. Unequivocally, our starting point is that trans men are men, trans women are women and non-binary identities are valid.
Above all, we have made our vision and ambition for Wales clear. Through our LGBTQ+ Action Plan, we want to make Wales the most LGBTQ+ friendly nation in Europe.
Upon its launch, I called it a plan “with hope at its heart”. This is a plan that aims to change lives not just change legislation, which is why it reaches across Government to ensure it is more than a wish list but instead measurable actions that will make a real difference.
We are committed to meaningful change for LGBTQ+ communities.
This plan strengthens protections for LGBTQ+ people, promotes equality for all, and helps co-ordinate actions across Government, communities, and the country.
Publication of the plan was a key step in our journey but let me reassure you that our work to improve equality for LGBTQ+ people has already begun.
I hope that by launching the LGBTQ+ Action Plan during LGBTQ+ History Month, we are also paying tribute to the activists and the allies, the campaigners, and the change makers, those who have lived through it all and those whose lives have been cut far too short.
The greatest tribute we can pay to the pioneers who paved the way is to continue to speak up, stand up and play our own part in achieving a fairer future where we feel safe, are supported, with our rights secured, and celebrated.
Hannah Blythyn, Deputy Minister for Social Partnership