The UK government publishes its new LGBT strategy today. Part of the strategy includes publishing the findings of a survey that show â€“ surprise! â€“ life is often really shit for LGBT people.
The plans include improved hate crime protection, a ban on dangerous quackery such as conversion therapy (aka “pray the gay away” cures for being gay or trans), reform of the Gender Recognition Act to make things less bureaucratic and other positive things.
Much of the strategy only applies to England, as a lot of LGBT-related issues are covered by devolved legislation. But the anti-LGBT backlash we’ll see online and in the media will affect the entire UK and beyond.
I don’t envy equalities minister Penny Mordaunt, who’s trying to improve things and reform the Gender Recognition Act in a climate where just 13% of Conservative voters think the GRA should be reformed (coincidentally, the vast majority of anti-trans misinformation and outright falsehoods about GRA reform is printed in newspapers and periodicals read primarily by Conservative voters; The Guardian and New Statesman do their best to compete, but their circulations are tiny by comparison):
The current process doesnâ€™t work for people. Itâ€™s overly bureaucraticÂ and itâ€™s highly medicalized with people making decisions about you who have never met you.
Thereâ€™s also huge inconsistencies throughout the process â€“ you have one identification document in one sex and another in another.
It doesnâ€™t work, it needs to be radically improved, and thatâ€™s why weâ€™re going to consult on that. Really the outcome weâ€™re looking for is that people are supported through that processâ€¦ it is a challenging enough thing to go through without the state and its bureaucracy adding to peopleâ€™s stresses.
We will get the best results from this consultation if it is done in that environment with people being sensible, people looking at the facts and not making things up, and ensuring people are respected.
There hasn’t been much in the way of facts or respect so far.
I hope I’m wrong, but I think the next couple of months are going to see some really shameful reporting of LGBT issues and more demonisation of trans people in supposedly respectable publications, as well as online. Some of it will have the dread hand of religious evangelism behind it; some will be from people building personal media brands by stepping on vulnerable people; all of it will be damaging.
Knowing that the perpetrators are on the wrong side of history doesn’t make the present any easier to live through.
If you would like to better understand the truth about being LGBT in the UK, the Government has published its full survey online. It’s available here in PDF format.