The next session of Parliament was officially opened today with the Queen unveiling a whole host of bills which will have an impact on the gay community in areas of crime, travel, health and the environment.
Gay charity Stonewall’s campaign to have homophobic incitement will be buoyed by a new Criminal Justice Bill and disabled people in the community will be pleased to receive free bus travel in England.
The Criminal Justice Bill promises new powers to put victims at the centre of the law and order system.
Stonewall has previously signalled an intention to have homophobic incitement included in the law after a spate of gay murders in the last year.
It would also ban the possession of online and printed porn depicting “scenes of extreme sexual violence,” a move opposed by some sections of the community who claim the law is too vague and could lead to innocent people being prosecuted despite consenting to activities.
The speech also included a government vow to introduce ID cards.
Elderly and disabled people will be able to take advantage of the Concessionary Bus Travel Bill which will provide free travel in England at off-peak times from April 2008.
Mental health is another issue with a big impact on the gay community with issues of coming out and homophobia.
The speech outlined a new Mental Health Bill to look at issues of treatment and definitions of mental disorders.
Other issues of interest to gays and lesbians will be a law to tackle climate change, terrorism and a new road pricing scheme, as well as proposals to raise the state pension age for men and women to 68 by 2046.
The Queen’s speech is a 400-year-old tradition which formally opens a new parliamentary session in November of each year.
It outlines the government’s proposed policies and legislation for the next session.