Equality is about the right of all individuals to live in a society where they are treated fairly, their rights are respected and they have the opportunity to fulfil their full potential. In the UK equality is enshrined in law; the Equality Act came into force in October 2010 and rolled up all UK equality legislation into one single act of Parliament, outlawing discrimination and placing a duty on public bodies to actively promote equality.
A key concept of equality is inclusiveness; the right of all people to play an equally valued role within society. UK legislation makes a point of referring to specific groups who, in the past, have been discriminated against. This includes outlawing any form of discrimination on the grounds of race, gender, sexuality, belief, disability or age.
Gay people have a long history of prejudice and discrimination in this country. In fact, male homosexuality was illegal until the 1960s. The law in the UK now forbids discrimination against lesbian women, gay men, bisexual men and women and transgender individuals (LGBT). Alongside recent changes to legislation, attitudes throughout society in general have dramatically changed in recent years. Particularly amongst younger people, whether or not someone is gay is rarely regarded as an issue any more.
Unfortunately, this is not the case in some parts of the world and there are still some eighty countries where homosexuality is treated as a criminal offence. In a small number of countries, most notably Iran, being gay can even lead to the judicial imposition of a death sentence.
The concept of gay pride originated in the United States in the 1980s and has now spread throughout the world. Pride is about celebrating gay identity, raising the visibility of gay people within society and promoting greater understanding.
Gay pride has now grown to encompass countless parades, festivals and other events in cities throughout the world. This year has marked the launch of an international gay anthem: You Make Me Proud. The song is composed by British musician, Howard Alexander, and has been recorded by the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Choir of Australia. It was performed by an international ‘virtual’ choir this May as part of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.
Looking ahead, the next big issue for gay people in Britain is the campaign for same-sex couples to move beyond civil partnership and be given full equality in terms of the right to marry.
This article has been written by You Make Me Proud Project, to help improve equality and gay right around the world.