This weekend hundreds of thousands of people will be attending Pride in Brighton.
Pride is an opportunity for people of all sexual orientations, gender identities and backgrounds to come together to take a stand for equality.
It is a time to reflect how far society has come, as well as where we have further to go. Ultimately, it is a chance for us to celebrate the love people have for one another.
Brighton is a city that is renowned for its diversity. From its thriving music scene, to its artistic culture – even the array of shops in the Lanes reflect its diverse nature.
As part of this, Brighton has a proud LGBT heritage, often regarded as the unofficial ‘gay capital’ of the UK. Several LGBT charities, publishers and support groups are based in the city. And Brighton Pride is one of the key events in the Pride calendar.
These celebrations across the country have a new meaning for me this year because as well as being a Sussex MP, I have recently been appointed as the Government’s Equalities Minister. I am honoured to take on this new role and I am committed to delivering greater equality for LGBT people. I am determined to root out and challenge prejudice and discrimination wherever its last vestiges remain.
The UK has already come a long way. In 2015, I married my husband who I have been with for over 30 years. Michael and I had no idea what a difference it would make. Marriage for same-sex couples has only been possible recently, but in the first 15 months since we introduced the legislation in 2013 more than 7,000 other couples also exchanged their vows.
Since then there have been further milestones. We introduced Turing’s Law earlier this year, pardoning gay and bisexual men for now abolished sexual offences. Although this act can never undo the hurt caused, it was a defining decision that helped to right this historic wrong.
And following the general election, we now have the most LGBT-diverse Parliament in the world. Recently we celebrated 50 years since the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in England and Wales, which is a reminder of the progress made. But there is more to do.
As Schools Minister, I have taken steps to ensure that homophobic, biphobic and transphobic (HBT) bullying is stamped out. We need to change the use of the word ‘gay’ as a pejorative term by children.
Bullying of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans pupils can lead to children feeling isolated and alone when they most need the support of close friends. That is why we are putting £3m into a programme to educate young people about LGBT issues, which will help tackle HBT bullying. I am also committed to looking at what can be done to ensure LGBT people of all ages feel included within society and are protected from discrimination. Last year, we committed to reviewing the Gender Recognition Act to see how we can streamline and de-medicalise the process people go through when transitioning.
There is further to go, but today is a chance to come together and celebrate what we have achieved so far. I hope everyone attending Pride in Brighton has a wonderful and enjoyable day.
Nick Gibb is a Sussex MP and the Minister for Equalities.