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Theresa May says government is set to publish results of 'world’s largest survey' of LGBT+ people

PMs remarks coincide with 30th anniversary of the introduction of the notorious section 28 legislation

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Thursday 24 May 2018 00:00 BST
Theresa May leaves 10 Downing Street
Theresa May leaves 10 Downing Street (AFP/Getty)

Theresa May has said the government is set to publish the results of the world’s largest survey of LGBT+ people, in an announcement coinciding with the 30th anniversary of the notorious section 28 legislation.

Detailing responses from over 100,000 individuals in Britain, the survey is expected to show discrimination faced by LGBT+ people and experiences in accessing public services.

The prime minister said she will also present “concrete steps” in a government action plan aimed at improving the lives of LGBT+ people when the findings are published in the summer.

“I want to help make us a country where no one feels the need to hide who they are or who they love," she said.

Ms May added the new action plan will include the results of a public consultation on how to reform the Gender Recognition Act to combat the injustices and prejudice faced by trans people in the UK.

Her remarks, in an article for Gay Times, come on the 30th anniversary of the now abandoned section 28 which forbid local authorities and schools from publishing material that promoted homosexuality.

The highly contentious legislation was repealed in 2003 under Tony Blair’s administration and six years later the then prime minister David Cameron admitted the Conservatives “got it wrong” when Margaret Thatcher’s government introduced section 28 in 1988.

Ms May said the government will publish its long-awaited findings this summer, claiming: “The response was phenomenal with over 100,000 replying, making it the largest survey of LGBT people anywhere in the world.

She added: “While these findings might not come as news to many in the community, they do allow the government to focus on what more it needs to do to tackle discrimination in every walk of life.”

“One answer that stood out to me was how many LGBT people said they avoided being open about their sexual orientation or gender identity in public, or with their own family and friends.

She said the LGBT+ action plan will outline steps to improve the lives of individuals in the community and “address some of the injustices” they have faced.

She continued: “We’ve also engaged with experts to understand better the limitations of the current system of gender recognition and will soon publish a public consultation on how we best reform the process. Trans people still face indignities and prejudice when they deserve understanding and respect.

“There’s lots to do — but the UK can be proud that we are a world leader in advancing LGBT rights.”

According to Stonewall’s most recent report on discrimination faced by LGBT+ people in Britain, two in five trans people have experienced a hate crime or incident because of their gender identity in the last 12 months.

Based on YouGov polling of more than 5,000 people, the findings added that a staggering four in five anti-LGBT+ hate crimes go unreported to the police due to a fear it would not be taken seriously.

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Paul Twocock, the director of campaigns, policy and research at Stonewall, said he welcomes the government’s intention to publish its LGBT+ action plan.

He added: “We’re also really pleased to hear the Prime Minister and Penny Mordaunt MP, the new Minister for Women and Equalities, reaffirm the Government’s commitment to launch the consultation on reform of the 2004 Gender Recognition Act before Parliament breaks up for the summer. That is vital, so we can have a debate based on facts not fiction, and move forward in advancing trans equality.”

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But Labour’s shadow women and equalities minister Dawn Butler said: “All this government seems to do is make announcements about future announcements. Theresa May announced a consultation on the Gender Recognition Act last August, but nearly a year later it hasn’t started.

“We need deeds, not just words from the Conservatives. Today marks 30 years since Thatcher’s government introduced section 28, a dark moment in our country’s history, which was defended by Theresa May.”

She continued: “It was repealed by the last Labour government in 2003, a government that did more than any other in British history to advance LGBT+ equality.”

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