Love Unites Reading

At Reading Pride, we acknowledge the 50 year anniversary since homosexuality was partially decriminalised in England and Wales. Since that time, we have achieved many equalities in the UK, such as the right to marry, and for same-sex couples to adopt children. While the legal changes have made good progress over the years, the same cannot be said for people’s attitudes which are still taking time to catch up to modern society. Incidents of homophobia, biphobia, transphobia etc are still prevalent within society, demonstrating that LGBT+ people are still not completely safe and that more work is needed to achieve social equality.

A gay couple on a Reading train were set upon by 4 homophobic youths in West London on 20th February 2017. In another homophobic attack, a man was glassed in Peckham on 10th March 2017. Five women in Portsmouth were attacked on Easter Sunday. A 19-year-old man was attacked by two men in a brutal homophobic attack in Bristol on 12th May 2017. Another gay couple was brutally attacked by a gang of nine while walking home in Whitchurch on 6th June 2017. These are just examples of the violence perpetuated against our community, but many other attacks go unreported.

This should not be what equality looks like in 2017. There are many arguments that could be given for the startling number of attacks that are still taking place. Whatever those reasons are, it is time for them stop.

There are minorities within our own LGBT+ community who not only face discrimination for their sexuality or gender, but face further discrimination based on their ethnicity or religion. There is widespread assumption that being LGBT+ is only happening within white communities in Britain.

Black LGBT+ communities are disproportionately affected by violence, abuse and harassment because of their identity. They are more likely to experience physical abuse, more likely to experience harassment from a stranger and equally likely to have experienced verbal abuse as their white British LGBT+ counterparts, and due to the pressures of discrimination and victimisation, are more likely to have poorer mental health.

There is no excuse for racism and it is crucial that we all stand together, whatever our background, ethnicity, religion, or identity. It is essential that we come together and present a united front. Pride is a time for us to stand up and be counted. It is a celebration of all that we are, and all that we stand for.

So, the theme of our event this year is love unites. If we start changing attitudes within our community we can start changing attitudes within society as a whole. When we say love wins or love unites, let’s lead by example. This year, let’s celebrate love.