Pride is an annual celebration of LGBTQ+ communities across the world, most famously marked with colourful parades and marches. While this year’s in-person celebrations have been postponed or cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, festivities have been continuing in full force online and through social media.

Pride is also an important event for employers. After decades battling for inclusion, not just legally but societally too, it is vital that organisations are aware of the struggles of the LGBTQ+ community that came before – and those that are still present today – in order to fully embrace diversity.

Here’s a summary of key details and historical turning points that have led to today’s Pride celebrations:

Firstly, what does LGBTQ+ stand for?

LGBTQ+ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (or questioning), plus others. You might also see it written as LGBTQA, with the A signifying either ally (someone who is supportive) or asexual.

Where did the gay rights movement originate?

While the fight for equality began in the early 20th century, the Stonewall riots in New York are commonly recognised as the tipping point for the modern gay rights era.

In the early hours of 28th June 1969, police officers raided a gay bar, called The Stonewall Inn. At the time, these sorts of raids were not unusual – the police could arrest and even force the hospitalisation of gay people. However, this raid sparked three nights of unrest as LGBTQ+ people, long frustrated by police brutality, started to fight back.

The uprising led to the formation of the Gay Liberation Front, among other movements, in the US who helped to form the first ever Pride march, which took place in New York one year after the Stonewall riots. Today, Pride events take place in major cities around the world every year.

What happened in the UK?

Two years prior to the Stonewall riots, homosexuality was decriminalised in the UK meaning two men were legally allowed to be in a relationship without fear of arrest for the first time; however, there were still many laws in place that led to discrimination of gay people.

Some UK activists involved in the US movement came together to form the British chapter of the Gay Liberation Front and the first Pride festival in London took place in 1972.

Sadly, the LGBTQ+ community was highly stigmatised throughout the 1980s – a time when the controversial Section 28 law was passed, which prevented teachers talking about same-sex relationships in schools; a law that was not overturned until 2003.

The law inspired the formation of the Stonewall Group in 1989 who continue to lobby and campaign for LGBTQ+ rights to this day.

What are the legal protections for LGBTQ+ people today?

The Equality Act 2010 ensures that LGBTQ+ people are entitled to the same legal protections given to other groups who might face discrimination.

Although same-sex couples could enter into Civil Partnerships before 2013, they weren’t allowed to marry. The Marriage Act 2013 gave same-sex couples the freedom to marry or convert their existing Civil Partnership to a marriage. In 2005, it became legal for same-sex couples to apply for the joint adoption of a child.

Why is recognising Pride important for an organisation?

As well as LGBTQ+ rights, Pride has come to reflect a wider push for diversity in the workplace. By acknowledging and partaking in Pride celebrations, it reaffirms that your organisation is an inclusive place where people can be their full selves.

For HR, it’s essential that we understand the context and history of the communities we are responsible for. When investigating a discrimination claim involving an LGBTQ+ employee, for example, understanding the history behind gay rights is incredibly beneficial.

How can I help my organisation become more inclusive for the LGBTQ+ community?

Diverse workplaces are more creative, innovative and profitable. From recruitment to professional development, as well as company-wide training, Tell Jane can support your workplace in implementing an effective diversity and inclusion strategy. Simply join one of our webinars to find out more…

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