Many LGB&T people have made huge contributions to society. Just look at codebreaker Alan Turing who made a significant impact on the development of computer science, best-selling author and playwright Daphne du Maurier, who has left a lasting impression on both the literary and film world, and Sophie Wilson, whose innovations in the technology have made inventions such as the smartphone possible.
That is why I am so excited to support this year’s LGBT History month. It is a great chance to celebrate the achievements of LGB&T people from our past and present, and bring this to the forefront of the national agenda.
This year in particular marks an important milestone in the march for LGB&T equality. In July, we will celebrate 50 years since the Sexual Offences Act 1967 was passed, decriminalising homosexual acts in England and Wales after centuries of persecution.
We have come a long way in 50 years. We have moved from a country where a relationship between two men was illegal, to one where we now have equal marriage for all. Along the way we have changed laws – from equalising the age of sexual consent, to providing increased protection from discrimination in employment and services, and we are currently introducing legislation to issue pardons to those previously convicted for consensual same-sex activity.
Modern Britain celebrates diversity with Pride marches in every major city, and our Armed forces are recognised as some of the most LGB&T friendly in the world. I am proud of the UK’s record on LGB&T equality and the strong laws that protects people.
But I know there is more to be done. There are unacceptable levels of hate crime, and homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying that still exist in our schools and communities, and there is more that can be done for the transgender community too.
That’s why I’m committed to tackling hate crime, health inequalities and bullying. From investing £2.8m in developing projects to tackle homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying in schools to investing more than £700,000 to support schemes tackling hate crime in communities and protect places of worship. But it’s also vital that we continue to challenge outdated attitudes and drive a change in our society.
This Government’s mission is to make a country that works for everyone. We want a society where everyone has a fair chance to go as far as their talent and their hard work will allow. No one should be held back because of their sexuality or gender identity. As part this, LGBT History month plays an important role, not only in celebrating the lives of LGB&T people but also reminding us of the tasks ahead. I wish it every success in 2017.