February marks the month of LGBTQ history month for many people across the nation. We celebrate and remember all of the people who have made it safer for us to exist in this world as we freely are and not be ashamed of being someone society has shunned in the past. Although, this does not mean that all of the community’sl problems and fears have entirely disappeared today.
Through the years LGBTQ individuals such as Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, Stormé DeLarverie, Alan Turin, James Baldwin, Colette and many more, have fought for our rights to live and exist. The Stonewall riots are probably one of the most known landmark events of LGBTQ history. The Stonewall Inn was a popular place for people to go to for refuge and escape prosecution, in New York at the time it was illegal to have same-sex relations. However, gay bars like the Stonewall Inn were subject to regular police harassment.
In 1969 a police raid turned into the well know Stonewall Riots, some 400 people are said to have rioted and the police conducting the raid had to barricade themselves in the bar with the community throwing debris and bottles. This is said to be the first time that all individuals of the community, lesbians, transgender individuals and gay men came together to protest as a single force. The riots continued for 6 days, this was a catalyst for a massive change in human rights around sexuality and gender that had been struggling during the 1960s.
However, even today there are still 69 countries in the world that criminalise homosexuality in the LGBTQ community. The death penalty is still used as the legally prescribe punishment for homosexuality in Brunei, Iran, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and in the northern states of Nigeria. There is still a lot of progress elsewhere, so far 28 countries have legally recognised same-sex marriage and 34 others have some kind of legal recognition for same-sex partnerships. In addition to this in 2020 there were 81 countries had laws in place for discrimination in the workplace on someone’s sexual orientation, in comparison to 15 countries 20 years ago.
This doesn’t mean that things are all, non-ironically, smiles and rainbows, even within the UK the LGBTQ community has had to fight to be heard and seen, especially those in the trans community. Changes to the gender recognition laws were ruled out by government officials back in September 2020. This would have allowed transgender and non-binary identifying people to easily change their birth certificates and self-identify their gender identity without an invasive medical evaluation. This was a massive set back for the TNBI community, especially alongside the lack of NHS funding for specific trans-related services.
Even though in recent years we have faced set backs close to home it doesn’t mean that we will be in a dark place forever. Hopefully with more political movement around the globe increasing, even those to do with other goals, this might put pressure on those in power to seriously take notice of the problems and dangers that exist. On a better note people such as Elliot Page, Chella Man, Lady Phyll and Laverne Cox are still pushing the boundaries of LGBTQ rights, paving a hopeful path that we can follow in. But of course, this month is for reflecting on those who have helped our lives be what they are today and among those reflections could be a new movement.