So, gay people can legally have sex at the same age as their straight counterparts and can register their partnerships. Section 28 is a thing of the past and making it illegal to refuse services on the grounds of sexual orientation is on the agenda. Some might think that equality has finally arrived. But has it?
PinkNews.co.uk’s Torsten Hojer asks key gay groups what 2007 holds for them.
Stonewall’s key priorities for 2007 are-
Education: Challenging homophobia in schools and colleges and underachievement by gay pupils; promoting fair treatment at work, to work with employers and staff to continue awareness-raising of the 2003.
Employment regulations: Ensuring that the Sexual Orientation Regulations and partnership legislation is promoted and implemented effectively; fair life chances – putting equality into practice by promoting fair treatment of LGBT people in public services e.g. the NHS, policing, housing and local government; the media – promoting fair coverage in the print and broadcast media.
The charity will also be campaigning for the Criminal Justice Bill to cover homophobic hate-crime, and tackling homophobic bullying,
OUTRAGE!’s agenda for 2007 includes challenging the ban on same-sex marriage and the government’s failure to deliver protection against homophobic discrimination in goods and services.
Outrage’s Peter Tatchell said: “We face a big battle. Tony Blair is likely to allow religious bodies to continue to discriminate against us; otherwise he would have given us the new goods and services law already. Labour’s ongoing attempts to deport LGBT asylum seekers is shameful. The new Commission for Equality and Human Rights has great potential. But to work properly we also need a new single, comprehensive Equal Rights Act to end the uneven patch-work of equality laws, which are strongest on race issues and weakest on sexuality discrimination.”
Gay health group GMFA has recently launched www.gmfa.org.uk/sex is currently in the process of consultation on HIV prevention work that will be commissioned.
A spokesperson said: “The proposal is for more funding going towards talking to gay men. It’s vital that it’s recognised that there is no single way of communicating HIV info that will be acceptable to all but that all gay men have the means of accessing HIV prevention information.”
HIV charity Crusaid intends to focus on three key areas, mental health; testing, awareness and health promotion; and advocacy and peer support.
A spokesperson explained, “Internationally, we intend to continue to focus on Africa. Through our international programme we will continue to fund projects that make a lasting impact – innovative projects that need help to get off the ground and secure their future.”
The National AIDS Trust’s priorities for 2007 include
Engaging with media to ensure coverage of HIV is non-stigmatising; working with police on guidelines for dealing with people living with HIV.
Improving knowledge of anti-discrimination law among employers to end discrimination against people living with HIV in the workplace.
A spokesperson said: “We also hope to organise a European conference on HIV and the law.”
Next year marks the 25th anniversary of HIV charity THT, a spokesman said: “We’ll be using this as an opportunity to reach more people and raise more money for people affected by HIV. We’ll be
producing ’25 Things’, a document which outlines our campaigning priorities that we hope to achieve by working with the
“Government, MPs or individuals. THT will be running new campaigns on condoms, homophobia and the service and support that gay men receive from their GPs.”
2006 was the year for legislation, but the next 52 weeks will test the effectiveness of positive gay equality initiatives and will hopefully bring about changes within society as well as in law.
Writing recently for The Pink News, Lord Chris Smith said: “One of the wonderful things about the past 12 months has been the way civil partnerships have become part of the normal fabric of our lives. Looking back 22 years, to the time when I first came out publicly, it’s a totally different world. The age of consent, Section 28, immigration and armed services rules, civil partnerships, the new Equality Commission: so much has changed for the better. But let’s not forget that there is still so much to do. Prejudice is still there, sometimes overtly. Violent attacks happen. We need to carry on working, lobbying, and campaigning; our work won’t be over for a long time to come.”
This article first appeared in the January issue of 3SIXTY Magazine which is out now.[/b]