To celebrate LGBT History month we've been talking to Iain McGregor, Chair of the LGBTQ+ Staff Support Network:
I knew from a young age that I was gay, but I was not in a position to come out until I was a teenager.
As a result of not being understood or accepted I was asked to leave home at the age of 15. For me this was the start of a new life, a life of freedom, discovery and an acceptance of me.
My knowledge and understanding of LGBT history before that was limited and I knew very little of the struggles that people had been through to get to where we were.
I explored the history of how things had progressed after my first pride event and then I became more involved in the LGBTQIA+ movement.
I realised that there was still a long way to go after hearing about the Matthew Shepard murder which took place -the same year I came out. Matthew was a young college student and was murdered because of his sexuality. I thought to myself: "Would this happen to me?"
Looking back it was clear that there were so many changes that needed to be made in society, for the LGBTQIA+ community to be fully accepted and included.
Anyone who identifies as part of the LGBTQIA+ community needs to have an acceptance of where we have come from, to understand where we are going.
Our allies need to have this shared with them , so our stories can be understood and so they can understand why the fight remains relevant today as it did 52 years ago, when the patrons of Stonewall stood up to the police and launched the LGBT movement forward.
Our story did not start with Stonewall though – it has been a battle that has been ongoing for centuries and people have lost their lives because of this.
Many people have paved the way for LGBTQIA+ rights and they continue to do so, some of which have faced discrimination on different levels due to intersectionality. We have more work to do to address the inequalities faced by people of colour and those with disabilities.
Campaigning for LGBTQIA+ rights and progress does not always require individuals to be marching at pride events either with flags and banners, it can be the subtle behind the scenes activities as well.
What can you do to support us?
- Keep up the good work - there are great examples of excellent care being delivered to our patients
- Remain supportive of everyone, especially at these difficult times. Be mindful that people within the LGBTQIA+ community may have had some of their extended support systems limited because of the lockdown restrictions. Many people in the community are estranged from their families and rely on friends to support them
- Wear the Rainbow Badge with pride – these are visual signs that you are supporting patients and staff
- Ask patients for their preferred pronouns to make their treatment more personable and also have your pronouns available so that patients can use the correct pronouns for yourselves. This is an extra sign in demonstrating LGBTQ+ Inclusion
- Ask us how you can support us – the PINC Team and LGBTQIA+ network has a range of resources available for you to share with the teams on inclusive practices
- Show us what you are doing to promote and support equality, diversity and inclusion. Email us at LGBTQIA+nuh.nhs.uk, follow us on Twitter - @LGBT_NUH or Instagram - @nuh_lgbtqia
Key changes since I came out
2000 – The ban for Lesbians and Gay men to serve in the Armed Forces was lifted
2001 – Saw the age of consent for Gay/Bi men lowered to 16 to be comparative to heterosexuals, until then the age of consent had been 21 until 1994 and before 1967 was illegal completely
2003 – Saw the repeal of Section 28 which had made it illegal to talk positively about homosexuality in schools. 2003 also saw new legislation that protected LGBT people from discrimination at work
2004 – The Civil Partnership Act and Gender Recognition Act were passed, both of these were key piece of law that enshrined LGBT rights and allowed movement forward for equality.
2005 – The Criminal Justice Act was changed to give courts power to issue tougher sentences for hate crimes including homophobic, biphobic and transphobic attacks
2007 – Until this time it was legal to discriminate against people accessing services based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Law that was passed in 2007 made this illegal.
2010 – The Equality Act is passed – this was a key piece of legislation that combined several laws into one and brought the protected characteristics together enabling a more "streamlined" approach to equality, diversity and inclusion
2013 – The Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act was passed allowing same sex couples to enter into a marriage rather than Civil Partnership if they wished.