16 February 2009
Until recently most LGBT people preferred to avoid attention to escape victimisation and harassment.
PCS members from Proud, the PCS LGBT network, marching at London Pride 2008. Photo: Guy Bell.
This prejudice was enforced by law. In the UK it is only 40 years since homosexuality was decriminalised.
More recently the notorious Section 28 restricted any positive debate about homosexuality especially in schools.
Section 28 was finally repealed in 2003, but its legacy means that many schools and local authorities fail to have any positive debate about LGBT issues in the classroom.
Much progress has since been made and now legislation protects rather than prosecutes LGBT people.
But homophobic bullying is prevalent in our schools and workplaces, and prejudice is still alive and well.
In many countries around the world people from LGBT communities are marginalised, and face persecution, and in some countries even the death sentence.
LGBT history month is important to counter these centuries of marginalisation. PCS is proud of its achievements in supporting and promoting equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people in the union, in the workplace and beyond.
Proud is the equality group representing lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans members within PCS.
Proud works hard to support LGBT members in the workplace and organises training to help members tackle any prejudice or other problems they may face because of their sexuality or trans status.
Jeff Grist, chair of Proud recounts how he overcame hardship through Proud despite “losing friends, workplace issues, being queer bashed, health issues and more recently losing both of my parents, I grew into a person who would and could not sit back and accept what was given to me – I become a strong, confident individual who could never make do, who could never sit back and see others suffer if there was something I could do to help.”
Jeff and his colleagues at Proud have worked hard through PCS and the TUC to campaign for LGBT rights and are always there to support colleagues.
PCS as a union is committed to supporting equality for all.
LGBT history month is an opportunity for us to celebrate the contribution made by lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people, and to reflect on the damage that centuries of homophobia has caused.