Writing exclusively for PinkNews.co.uk to mark this weekend’s Pride in London event, Culture Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities Maria Miller says she is “proud” that equal marriage legislation is on track to becoming law. She also reveals a public consultation on where the government should focus its efforts next on LGBT policy will begin this autumn.
Question: what do Montgomery, Alabama; Epsom, Surrey; and Greenwich Village, New York all have in common?
In Montgomery, Alabama a woman named Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus to a white passenger.
In Epsom, Emily Davison fell beneath the King’s horse at the Derby.
And in Greenwich Village in 1969, Police raided a bar – and the patrons fought back.
It took just one step for change to happen.
They were the ones who said out loud: “I’m not putting up with this. This isn’t fair, and it isn’t right.”
And it’s because of their actions; we are able to live in more respectful and more tolerant world.
Equal marriage is an extension of those that have argued for and created social change over the generations. People should not be excluded from marriage, simply because of who they love. The institution of marriage underpins our society and over the years, as society as evolved, so has marriage.
That’s why I’m proud that the government’s equal marriage legislation is on track to become law. Equal marriage isn’t just a question of fairness; it’s quite simply the right thing to do. And the fact that the majority of my parliamentary colleagues agree – from across all parties – shows that the time for change has arrived. The bill continues to progress through Parliament but I very much hope that we will be able to celebrate the first same-sex marriage ceremonies in the UK by next summer.
However, whilst this will be a wonderful achievement, there are still other barriers which LGB&T people can face that need to be broken down. We have come a long way since the decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1967 – but the fact is there are still many people who feel ashamed, who have hidden or who are still hiding their sexuality, through fear of homophobia or transphobia.
So this autumn, we are starting our LGB&T Call for Evidence, a consultation on what the next steps need to be. I invite the readers of PinkNews to write to me when the consultation opens, and tell me what they think are the biggest issues still facing LGB&T people in this country and where government needs to prioritise action to combat homophobia and discrimination. Your thoughts and views are needed to help shape the future direction of LGBT policy in the UK.
No-one should face prejudice and discrimination because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and events such as Pride give us a chance to come together to celebrate the real progress being made in this country.
After all, it takes just one step.
Maria Miller is the Culture Secretary and the Minister for Women and Equalities