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Why do we still need Pride events in 2024?

Why Pride is Still Important and Needed


Pride events are vibrant celebrations of LGBTQ+ identities, but their significance goes far beyond the festivities. They are vital platforms for visibility, advocacy, and community solidarity. Despite significant progress in LGBTQ+ rights since the Stonewall Riots, the community still faces substantial challenges, making Pride as relevant as ever. Indeed, given in recent politics and media, as perceived by Stonewall, there has been withdrawal/decrease of governmental support in policies for transgender people, plus a recent British Social Attitudes survey demonstrating that Britain as a nation is becoming more prejudiced towards the LGBTQ+ community, in particular the transgender community, the rise in hate crime demonstrated below and potential for worsening mental wellbeing for those affected is worrying. Let's dive into why Pride is crucial today, supported by recent statistics on hate crimes, mental health, poverty, and workplace discrimination.


UK Ranking for LGBTQ+ Rights and Safety


Up until 2015, Britain was consistently ranked as the most LGBTQ+-friendly place in Europe, leading the continent in terms of rights, protections, and freedoms afforded to queer people. The UK's high standards and progressive policies earned it the top spot, with an impressive score of 86%.


However, from 2016 onwards, the UK's ranking has steadily declined. This downward trend correlates with shifts in political leadership and policy emphasis under the Conservative-led government. By 2018, the UK had dropped to third place, still maintaining a relatively strong position. Unfortunately, the decline continued, and the UK's score for LGBTQ+ rights and safety has now plummeted to just 51.88%, placing it 15th in Europe.


This significant drop reflects growing concerns about the erosion of LGBTQ+ rights and protections in the country. Issues such as inadequate legal recognition, lack of comprehensive anti-discrimination measures, and insufficient support for transgender individuals have contributed to the UK's fall in the rankings.


For detailed information and updates on the UK's ranking and LGBTQ+ rights in Europe, you can visit the ILGA-Europe website (https://www.ilga-europe.org)


The Persistence of Hate Crimes


Hate crimes against LGBTQ+ individuals remain a serious issue in the UK. According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), there has been a concerning rise in reported hate crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity. In the year ending March 2022, there were 26,824 hate crimes recorded against people based on sexual orientation, a 43% increase from the previous year. Even more alarmingly, hate crimes against transgender people have surged by 186% over the past five years. Whilst these statistics alone may be shocking to some, it is prudent to note that the government’s own statistics suggest that fewer than one in ten LGBTQ+ people actually report hate crimes or incidents, so these statistics demonstrate the rise in the known, formally reported hate crimes only, the actual rise in hate crime is likely higher than captured in these reports. These figures show the ongoing hostility and discrimination that LGBTQ+ individuals face, highlighting the need for continued advocacy and visibility.

Pride events combat this hostility by providing a visible, united front against discrimination. Indeed, at the weekly drop in group, our own Melissa Hamilton arranged for a (Sussex Police PCSO talk) on how to report hate crime also, trying to foster positive relationships for the future. Pride events aims to foster a sense of community and resilience, showing LGBTQ+ individuals and allies standing together. Plus, Pride events often include educational programs and workshops aimed at raising awareness and promoting acceptance, helping to reduce ignorance and prejudice.


Mental Health Disparities


Mental health issues are disproportionately prevalent among LGBTQ+ individuals. Data from Stonewall’s Health Report reveals that 52% of LGBTQ+ people have experienced depression in the last year, compared to 20% of the general population. Additionally, 46% of transgender individuals have considered taking their own life, a stark contrast to 16% of cisgender individuals.


Similarly, Stonewall found that over the previous year:

- half of LGBTQ+ people had experienced depression

- three in five had experienced anxiety

- one in eight LGBTQ+ people aged 18-24 had attempted to end their life

- almost half of trans people had thought about taking their life


We know that bullying has a detrimental impact on mental wellbeing too, so it is disheartening to know that 42% of LGBT+ school pupils have been bullied in the past year, double the number of non-LGBT+ pupils (21%).


Access to health care (physical and psychological wellbeing) can be sadly hindered by perpetuated negativity, as evidenced by the LGBT Britain report, which identified one in four LGBTWQ+ people have witnessed discriminatory or negative remarks against LGBTQ+ people by healthcare staff. Given that one in seven LGBTQ+ persons have advised they avoid healthcare or treatment for fear of discrimination, with one in eight having experienced unequal treatment from healthcare staff, despite the saddening statistics, it is quite possible that the above data does not fully reflect the full extent of mental health challenges faced by LGBTQ+ people.

Pride events play a crucial role in combating mental health disparities by creating safe spaces where LGBTQ+ individuals can express themselves without fear of judgment. Indeed again at the weekly drop in group, Melissa Hamilton has forged a partnership with West Sussex Mind, who attend once a month to offer support and signposting for those who need it. Pride committees offer support networks and connect people to mental health resources and organisations that provide year-round assistance. By promoting acceptance and reducing isolation, Pride events significantly contribute to better mental health outcomes for the community.


Economic Disadvantages and Poverty


Economic inequality is another significant challenge faced by LGBTQ+ people. Almost one in five LGBT people (18 per cent) have experienced homelessness at some point in their lives. According to a report by the UK Government Equalities Office, LGBTQ+ individuals are more likely to experience poverty. For example, 24% of LGBTQ+ adults live in poverty compared to 16% of non-LGBTQ+ adults. This disparity is even more pronounced among transgender individuals, with 29% living in poverty. These economic disadvantages often result from workplace discrimination and barriers to equal employment opportunities.


Pride events help address these economic challenges by promoting equal rights and highlighting the need for inclusive workplace policies. Many Pride organisations work throughout the year to provide career workshops, job fairs, and networking opportunities specifically for LGBTQ+ individuals, helping to bridge the gap in employment opportunities and support economic empowerment.


Workplace Discrimination


Discrimination in the workplace continues to affect LGBTQ+ individuals adversely. A 2018 study by Stonewall found that 18% of LGBTQ+ employees have been the target of negative comments or conduct from work colleagues in the last year because they are LGBTQ+. Furthermore, 35% of LGBTQ+ people have hidden or disguised their identity at work for fear of discrimination, with this number rising to 51% among transgender employees. Such environments not only hinder career advancement but also contribute to the broader economic inequalities faced by the community.


Pride events shine a spotlight on these issues, advocating for inclusive and supportive workplace environments. They collaborate with businesses to promote diversity and inclusion, often recognizing companies that have made significant strides in supporting LGBTQ+ employees. Pride also provides platforms for discussions and workshops on workplace rights and discrimination, empowering individuals to seek justice and support.



Conclusion


Pride events are not just celebrations of diversity; they are crucial for raising awareness, fostering acceptance, and advocating for the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals. The statistics on hate crimes, mental health, poverty, and workplace discrimination highlight the persistent challenges that make Pride essential. By continuing to support and participate in Pride events, we help create a more inclusive and equitable society where everyone can live without fear of discrimination or prejudice.


Beyond the events themselves, Pride organisations work year-round to offer support, resources, and advocacy. They provide vital signposting to mental health services, employment resources, and legal support, ensuring that the community has access to the help they need at all times. By addressing these issues, Pride continues to be a powerful force for change and a beacon of hope for the LGBTQ+ community.


References


1. Office for National Statistics. (2022). Hate Crime, England and Wales, 2021 to 2022.

2. Government Equalities Office. (2022). National LGBT Survey: Summary Report.

3. Stonewall. (2018). LGBT in Britain - Health Report.

4. Mind. (2020). LGBTQ+ Mental Health.

5. UK Government Equalities Office. (2021). LGBT Survey.

6. Joseph Rowntree Foundation. (2019). Poverty in the UK.

7. Stonewall. (2018). LGBT in Britain.

8. Trades Union Congress. (2017). LGBT+ Discrimination in the Workplace.

9. Just Like Us Growing Up LGBT+ (2021)

10. Galop Hate Crime Report (2021)

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