Pride is by far the most all-inclusive event for the LGBT+ community world-wide. It affords the community something no other event does – visibility. This visibility is vital to remind law makers that the community exists, and more broadly, is supported by siblings, friends, colleagues and many other allies. Support that manifests as a strong, albeit rather opinionated, voting bloc.
Many of the laws directly associated with the LGBT+ community are amendments to former, less inclusive, laws, and by definition are much easier to reverse than they were to legislate in the first place. Without LGBT+ community visibility, the reality of this occurring is frighteningly probable.
Marriage Equality legislation is more about equality than the nuptials it allows LGBT+ folk to enter into. The broad reaching legislative amendments attached to most marriage acts rights many of the previously ignored wrongs and fortifies principles of inclusion and equality. Although not all LGBT+ folk will tie the knot, all will benefit from being treated as equals in the eyes of the law, particularly in areas of employment, last wills and testaments, next of kin, taxation, and wealth creation.
The next obvious step is to be truly counted.
Reliable data on the proportion of the population that is lesbian, gay, bi-sexual or transgender will be gathered for the first time in next year’s census, with members of the public asked to provide information about their sexual orientation and gender identity.
The questions – which will be voluntary and for people aged 16 and over – will help to build a clearer picture for policy-makers and service-providers, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.
“Without robust data on the size of the LGBT population at a national and local level, decision-makers are operating in a vacuum, unaware of the extent and nature of disadvantage which LGBT+ people may be experiencing in terms of health, educational outcomes, employment and housing,” Iain Bell, the ONS deputy national statistician, told the Observer.
While there are estimates of sexual orientation at national and regional levels, the once-a-decade survey would provide data at local authority level in England and Wales. Bell added: “And there is no robust data available on gender identity at all. This data is needed by local authorities and service providers.”
Distrust of authority and government has deep seated roots in the LGBT+ community. This is not without serious foundation. For many years the community has been deliberately treated as second class citizens, told (by lack of action to resolve the issues) that they don’t deserve equality, and that both their orientation and sexual practises are abhorrent and against God. Changing this reticence to trust the authorities by providing personal information is not going to be easy to overcome. It is however something that must be done.
Census data, by the sheer nature of the process, is confidential. The gathered data however is vital in maintaining visibility and augmenting what Pride does on an internal government level. Whilst understanding not all people who identify as LGBT+ are “out”, those who are need to step up to the plate and inform law makers of both the significant proportion of the population that does identify as LGBT+ and that the community’s needs are real and should be seriously addressed.
If we simply take one area of great concern, health, we realise the impact changing hearts and minds will have. It is well documented that the health needs of LGBT+ folk is unique. Men’s health, trans* health, and bi-sexual health being three incredibly important areas not currently being fully addressed in a manner that minimises discrimination, promotes easy access, and effectively addresses the full range of physical and mental health requirements. Targeted health services are urgently required and census data is used to establish this need in a very real and legislative fashion.
I strongly urge all LGBT+ folk to take this opportunity to authentically be counted and fill in the census form correctly and fully. Disclosing information of this kind may be uncomfortable, but it is essential and the benefits widespread and lasting.
Pride365 Certified CEO
As seen in page 18 – 19 of GNI Magazine.