by Corey Beaton
It was fortunate that my first day as EDI Officer for Strathclyde Law Clinic fell on the first day of Pride Month 2023. Plenty of events will be held across Scotland to celebrate its LGBTQI+ communities, to campaign for stronger protections for equal rights, and to reflect on the challenges which are still faced across the country and the world.
Fifty-four years have passed since the Stonewall protests took place in New York; 51 years ago in July, the UK’s first Pride March danced and celebrated its way through the streets of London; and 20 years have passed since section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988 was finally repealed. All significant milestones in the growth of the vibrant and diverse Pride Movement across the world, but this is growth which continues to be tempered by the continuing harassment and persecution of LGBTQI+ people across the world.
In March this year, the Ugandan Parliament passed a bill which made so-called “aggravated homosexuality” punishable by death, or at the very least life imprisonment. Closer to home, the Scottish Government reported that, in 2021-22, almost 7,000 hate crimes were reported to police with over a quarter being motivated by prejudices against another’s sexual orientation and gender identity. When we look back at the words of Hillary Clinton in 2010, that “gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights once and for all”, it’s clear to see this message hasn’t been shared as widely nor acted on as positively as she had hoped.
That is not to say there is no hope, no recourse of action, that we can undertake as individuals nor as a collective. The rule of law has always proven itself to be an invaluable & effective vehicle for change; it’s only when those processes are abused does it cause harm and suffering. We’ve come a long way in Scotland to make sure our LGBTQI+ communities are given equal rights & opportunities, but we shouldn’t stop there – there is simply too much at stake to allow discord & hate to become the norm.
I wish everyone who celebrates it a happy and safe Pride Month, and never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it.