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Guest blog: Why do we celebrate Pride month and why does it still matter?

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We spoke to Berkeley Wilde, Director at The Diversity Trust, about the history of LGBT+ Pride Month, why it still matters and how his team are working with partners to create a safer and fairer society.

“Every year, during the month of June, there are gay pride festivals and events throughout the world. These celebrations mark the anniversary of the Stonewall riots, which started outside the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village in New York City in late June 1969. This weekend of riots is acknowledged as the birthplace of the modern gay liberation movement. It was the first time queer communities fought back against the regular police raids on the gay communities’ bars and clubs.

“Subsequently, in the UK and across Europe, we have seen incredible strides in legal and social reforms from decriminalisation of male homosexuality in the late 1960’s, through to the liberation movements of the 1970’s, 80’s and 90’s; to almost total legal equality with the advent of reforms including gender recognition, civil partnerships and equal marriage.

“However, data published by the International Gay and Lesbian Association (ILGA World) shows there are many countries throughout the world that criminalise and oppress LGBT+ people; including 49 countries which punish homosexual acts with imprisonment and 11 countries that can apply the death penalty against LGBT+ people.

“Here in the UK hate crimes against LGBT+ people are on the increase and many crimes go unreported. Stonewall estimate over 80% of hate crimes and hate incidents against LGBT+ people go unreported. Unfortunately, there is still a lack of understanding and awareness of domestic violence and abuse in same-sex relationships. There is a significant level of underreporting of violent crime and a lack of help-seeking among LGBT+ people in abusive relationships. Many LGBT+ people fear further discrimination if and when they do seek help.

“At The Diversity Trust we work with the police and victim services to educate and inform. We participate in strategic forums, community forums and actions; we partner with the police and many other organisations to advocate and campaign on behalf of our communities.

“We need Pride Month to both support the community, as well as to educate and inform wider society about the harm and damage homophobia, biphobia and transphobia has on everyone. Pride began with riots in New York City but has become a global celebration of visibility.

“We need openly LGBT+ role models, and allies, to stand up for our rights and freedoms, freedoms we should never take for granted.”

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