February marks LGBT+ History Month in the UK, to “promote equality and diversity for the benefit of the public” (lgbthistorymonth.org.uk/about). It’s a month to celebrate pioneers of equality for LGBT+ folks, raise awareness of LGBT+ issues, and educate people.
The theme of LGBT+ History Month this year is ‘Geography: Mapping the World’, which has marked recently both Australia, and sixteen more North American states have legalised same sex weddings. LGBT+ History Month first began in the UK in February 2005 following the abolition of Section 28 in the UK in 2003. Section 28 followed the decriminalisation of gay sex for over twenty-ones in the UK, but it meant that people who were homosexual could still be discriminated against. In 2003, this was finally abolished.
Whilst there are parades and celebrations going on around the UK, UEA also has a bunch of events happening this month. For example, during Do Something Different Week, UEA has Open Door Sessions for different sexualities and genders, so people who identify as LGBT+ can discuss their experiences at university and beyond.
There’s also screenings of the film Pride, as well as pizza socials, discussion groups, and some UEA panels. There’s also a discussion with the charity Leeway about abuse in LGBT+ relationships.
So why is the fact that UEA celebrates LGBT History Month important? Of course, it’s about raising awareness and educating people, but it’s also about inclusivity. Whilst the UK has made leaps in terms of LGBT+ rights, it still has a way to go.
The SU’s LGBT+ officers posted on their blog: “We still have a long way to go. It is more important now than ever before, as we look forward and think about how we can solve the vast inequalities LGBT+ people still face around the world, to look back at our history and acknowledge and appreciate the incredible people who paved the way for us.”
You can check out what events are lined up at UEA to celebrate LGBT+ History Month on their website, or you can pick up a flyer at the Union House