This Saturday I’m marching with Norwich Pride. Come and join in!
Norwich Pride is a celebration of the LGBT+ community for everyone. As your local MP, I love Norwich because it’s a real community city, and this annual celebration is a way to show that everyone can feel safe and proud to be themselves. It’s all about pride in who we are and it’s all about Norwich!
Norwich Pride is a grass-roots, do-it-yourself celebration organised by a collective of friendly, creative and enthusiastic volunteers. More here: http://www.norwichpride.org.uk/
I’ll be joining the parade in front of City Hall with many others. It would be great to see you there and walk with you in support of our city and our community, so please find me in the crowd.
I’ve long engaged with LGBT+ issues for constituents, including as an early supporter of equal marriage which I was proud to vote for in Parliament. I oppose any argument to weaken those rights and I'm pleased that Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May and Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson, who is gay, have publicised categoric reassurances that this government is firmly behind those rights.
Thanks to the hard work and courage of campaigners, there’s been a lot progress in improving life for LGBT+ people in Britain. As well as equal marriage now being law, the age of consent is now equal; LGB people can serve in the military; same-sex couples can adopt; Section 28 is gone and schools can deal better with homosexuality; and the Equality Act protects lesbian, gay and bi people when accessing goods and services.
I welcomed that a further £1million is being invested in tackling homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying in schools, which builds on the previous £2 million fund between 2015 and 2016 that funded eight projects across the country and trained over 20,000 teachers.
The first ever parliamentary committee for Women and Equalities has begun to get things done too. Its first report was into transgender issues and the Conservative government - led by Equalities Minister Justine Greening, who is in a same sex relationship - has responded including by proposing improvements to the Gender Recognition Act in order to streamline and demedicalise the gender recognition process.
These issues are for everyone: not just those who are out, but those who don’t yet have that confidence. Not just those in big cities, but in villages and towns up and down Britain. And not just Britain, but around the world.
In the news spotlight or out of it, there is much more to do internationally.
As a world-leader for LGBT+ rights, Britain can extend its influence around the world. I welcome the support given to activists and groups in countries around the world, and the funding made available by the Government Equalities Office to international projects.
Since 1990, 40 countries have decriminalised homosexuality and over 30 have outlawed homophobic hate crimes. As of 2016, 22 countries recognise same-sex marriage.
Yet huge challenges remain. Sex with someone of the same sex is illegal in 72 countries, and punishable by death in 8. That means billions of people live under laws which punish gay, lesbian and bisexual people for being themselves.
Around the world today, LGBT+ people are more likely to risk arrest, violence and discrimination for publicly speaking out against homophobia, transphobia and biphobia, than they are to have their rights protected. I have been particularly concerned about the situation in Chechnya.
We can all help create a world where everyone has the right to love, and the right to life.
We can all be leaders in our communities, our workplaces, our schools, colleges or universities, our sports teams. We can work out what it means to be ourselves; understand the issues that may be affecting others; step up in practical ways; behave in a way that allows everyone to have pride.
We can all be role models and allies of the Pride movement.
So, whoever you are, whatever you do, be proud to be out in the city this Saturday, and support the Norwich community through Norwich Pride – I’ll be there!