Love Unites Reading

We acknowledge the 50 year anniversary since homosexuality was decriminalised in the UK. Since that time we have achieved many equalities such as the right to marry, and for same-sex couples to adopt children. While the legal changes have made good pace over the years, the same can not be said for social attitudes which are still taking time to catch up. We are referring to recent incidents of homophobia which demonstrate that LGBT+ people are still not 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. 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 homophobic 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 a widespread assumption that being gay is a phenomenon purely of white people in Britain, amongst all racial groups.

Black LGBT+ communities are disproportionately affected by homophobic violence, abuse and harassment. They are more likely to experience physical abuse, more likely to experience harassment from a stranger and were 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.

Homophobia in the Black British community is prevalent in the United Kingdom. Many gay people in the black community get married or have significant others of the opposite sex to hide their sexual orientation. Some of the Black British community sees homosexuality as a “white disease”. Many Black British gay people face not only being socially isolated from their communities but the possibility of being assaulted.

Those who speak on behalf of Black and Minority Ethnic communities sometimes reinforce conservative attitudes towards sexual orientation; this is experienced as oppressive by many British South Asian LGBT+ people. Homophobia taints the British Asian community, and while within the south Asian community, being gay is often deeply taboo, the gay community should do more to help South Asians, especially as a result of racism of White British gay men.

So, the theme of our event this year is to reinforce that love unites, and that is within our community and outside of it. If we start charging attitudes within our community we can start changing attitudes within the wider community, and when we say love wins or love unites, let’s show everyone that we really mean it and lets put a stop to these attacks and lead by example.