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Plaid Cymru’s Adam Price: I stand shoulder to shoulder with my trans siblings

Adam Price July 18, 2019
Adam Price at the PinkNews summer reception in Cardiff

Adam Price spoke at the PinkNews summer reception in Cardiff. (PinkNews)

When I was a young gay man in the 1980s, it would have been inconceivable that an event championing LGBT+ people would be held in the heart of Welsh democracy, and I myself there as the first openly LGBT+ party leader in our national Senedd.

The 1980s were a dark and difficult period for LGBT+ people. It was the era of Section 28 — a regressive piece of legislation brought forth by the Thatcher government.

Enacted on May 24, 1988, Section 28 stated that a local authority “shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality” nor “promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship”.

The legislation caused untold damaged to a generation of LGBT+ people.

A protest against Section 28 was the first LGBT+ march ever in Cardiff, if not in Wales, and I was on that march.

Attending that march, for me, was like a first step in the process of coming out as a gay man. Thirty years on, I’m here — a proud, open, gay man in public office serving the people of my country, and I am proud today to be celebrating the LGBT+ community and its contribution to Wales.

And the LGBT+ community has made an incredible contribution to our nation. In activism, pioneers such as Lisa Power and Jeff Weeks. In the arts, marvels such as Gwen John and Jan Morris. In sports, heroes such as Beth Fisher. And in public life, people like Professor Laura McAllister and so many more.

There can be no Welsh history without its LGBT+ history.

We cannot afford to be complacent and take these hard won rights for granted.

Two weeks ago, we celebrated fifty years since the Stonewall Riots — which marked a historic turning point in the history of LGBT+ liberation with the waves of progress that riot instigated still felt today.

However, we know that the battle fought fifty years ago is not yet over. We cannot afford to be complacent and take these hard won rights for granted. Because they are not safe and we must pledge to keep fighting to protect them, always.

Recently published statistics from Stonewall Cymru show that 41 percent of trans young people in Wales have attempted suicide and that 77 percent of trans young people have self-harmed at some point in their lives.

Trans young people also face high rates of bullying and mental health issues. Fewer than 60 percent of LGBT+ pupils in Welsh schools receive education about LGBT+ issues. LGBT+ young people face higher rates of bullying and mental health issues.

There has been a significant rise in transphobia and smear campaigns directed towards the trans community in the media. Trans women in Wales in particular face significant challenges including increased vulnerability to hate crime, violence and abuse.

The campaign of persecution waged against trans people echoes exactly what the gay community went through in the late 20th century.

The arrow of history may bend toward justice but it’s not inevitable. For the first time in a generation, attitudes towards same-sex relationships are going backwards. So, we need to be vigilant, absolutely.

As a gay man, I also want to express my complete solidarity with my trans siblings. The campaign of persecution waged against trans people echoes exactly what the gay community went through in the late 20th century.

By showing solidarity, by being there with each other shoulder to shoulder we could develop the confidence which everything we’ve achieved since was built on. It’s our responsibility to show total solidarity with our transgender siblings at this difficult time.

In the same breath, myself and Plaid Cymru are clear that we will continue to fight against transphobia, homophobia, biphobia and any other form of prejudice or discrimination that the LGBT+ community must suffer.

But to express a desire that our society ought to be equal and safe for LGBT+ people is not the same as delivering on that pledge. We must act to make this a reality.

The opening of the first Welsh Gender Service in September is one example of this that is to be welcomed – and it came as part of Plaid Cymru’s budget deal with Labour.

But more needs to be done.

We need to include healthy LGBT+ relationships and LGBT+ history in the new curriculum.

We need to put an end to the inequality facing gay men who wish to give blood.

We need to ensure adequate mental health provision is available to all LGBT+ people.

We need to tackle homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying that is too prevalent within our schools.

We need to have power of gender recognition devolved to Wales at once to ensure that trans people can express their gender and identity based on self-identification.

And I want to be the first openly gay First Minister who can lead us to these goals.

Wales can ever truly be free until our LGBT+ citizens are also free.

I am proud of Plaid Cymru’s record in championing LGBT+ rights and will continue to represent the LGBT+ community in Wales and campaign for education and tolerance.

Mine and Plaid Cymru’s vision is of a Wales free from homophobia, biphobia and transphobia. A Wales where everyone is equal, respected, free from abuse and discrimination.

After all, I do not believe that Wales can ever truly be free until our LGBT+ citizens are also free.

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