Departing PinkNews.co.uk online editor Marc Shoffman sifts through the stories that made 2006.
It’s been a great year for gay rights. Legislation wise the gay community can take advantage of civil partnerships and soon the Sexual Orientation Regulations, LGBT people have had the last 52 weeks to thank for that, but it hasn’t all been a smooth ride.
The leader of the Muslim Council of Great Britain Sir Iqbal Sacranie sparks condemnation by religious and political leaders, after he claimed in a radio interview that gay relationships are damaging the foundations of society, and that homosexuality carries unusually high health risks.
Police later decide there is no case for prosecution.
The Liberal Democrats aim to regain the public’s respect with a leadership election, but the party is later embarrassed by revelations that Mark Oaten had confronted his baldness by meeting rent boys, while the tabloids decide to out Simon Hughes, who eventually admitted he is a bisexual.
The News of the World claims that two leading Premiership footballers are bisexual and have engaged in a gay orgy.
Internet message boards later name Ashley Cole as one of the footballers. The player later sues the paper and receives an out of court settlement and damages in a landmark case, even PinkNews.co.uk was involved, correctly analysing a pixelated picture which the tabloid claimed “proved” the defender was gay.
Following an interview with Conservative Party Chairman Francis Maude earlier in the year, PinkNews.co.uk discovers a reinvigorated relationship between the gay community and the Tories.
A poll by PinkNews.co.uk finds a growth in support of the Conservative party amongst the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered) community since the election of David Cameron as leader.
In a poll of 600 readers, selected to be demographically representative of LGBT people in England, a 10.2% increase in support for the Conservatives since 2005 was found, although Labour remains the party of choice for the pink vote.
It follows an interview with Mr Maude where he speaks of the importance of the party shedding its previously homophobic image.
Labour tries to cover up poor local election defeats with a Cabinet reshuffle. But PinkNews.co.uk is quickly on the ball noticing Tony Blair’s gaff in appointing devout Catholic Ruth Kelly to an equality role when she has never voted for gay rights.
PinkNews.co.uk launches in monthly magazine The Pink News in partnership with 3SIXTY magazine. It brings together around 200 members of the LGBT community as well as representatives across the political spectrum inside the Law Society.
The gay community marches down Oxford Street and Regent Street for the first time for EuoPride 2006. The event sees anti-gay campaigners caged in by police and around half a million members and supporters of the community walk through London.
The Gay Police Association courts outrage after printing a newspaper advert linking homophobic attacks to faith. Christian groups call for an investigation but the demands are later rejected by the Crown Prosecution Service.
PinkNews.co.uk reveals that Chancellor Gordon Brown has been absent from several votes from gay rights. For a man who wishes to lead the country it would be nice to know his views on LGBT issues.
Tension mounts in Jerusalem ahead of plans for a gay pride march in the Israeli capital. Muslims, Jews and Christians manage to unite in hatred against the gays, while millions worldwide are in poverty and dying of AIDS. Eventually the parade becomes a rally in a stadium inside Jerusalem in November.
The Republican Party is taught a lesson in people power. Over the last year its representatives have rallied against gay rights and almost implemented a constructional ban on gay marriage. But huge failures in the mid terms now sees US President George W Bush having to work with a Democrat Senate, after the public refuted the Republican’s obsession with religious values.
Also this month PinkNews.co.uk was awarded with Publication of the Year at the Stonewall Awards
Religious fundamentalism in the UK finally seems to be confronted after the Advertising Standards Authority decides to investigate an advert from Christian groups which describes the new Sexual Orientation Regulations as an attack on freedom of conscience.
Also the Office of National Statistics reports an unexpected number of gay and lesbian couples opting for civil partnerships, the official number is recorded at 15,672.
The next year will see the implementation of the Sexual Orientation Regulations from January in Northern Ireland and April in the rest of the UK.
The laws aim to protect the LGBT community from discrimination in the provision of goods and services.
Other initiatives to look out for will be schemes to combat homophobic bullying in schools as well as a major push for laws against homophobic incitement.
If 2006 was the year of legislation then 2007 should be the year of implementation. It’s all very well having these laws but they must be adhered to by everyone including religious groups, media personalities, employers, restaurants and hotels.
That is what PinkNews.co.uk will be aiming for in 2007.
Happy New Year!