IDAHOT Report 2015: United Kingdom

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In London leading LGBT charity Stonewall marked the day with a special ‘human rainbow’ made up of young campaigners in support of LGBTI youth. The event took part two days before IDAHOT on the banks of the river Thames and saw dozens of supporters join in bright colours and arrange themselves like a rainbow.
As well as the one-off rainbow action Stonewall supporters also took part in the ‘No Bystanders’ project, run in collaboration with Barclays bank. As part of the project Barclays bank displayed messages of solidarity on cash machines across the capital. The project, which is ongoing across the UK, aims to prevent anti-LGBT bullying by encouraging the public not to stand by when witness to bullying or hate crimes. The project hopes to engage ordinary members of the public into taking action against discrimination towards the LGBT community, as well as other minorities.
stonewall human rainbow
The group also supported the day with an official statement in which they highlighted the importance of supporting LGBTI youth. Stonewall members also assisted in events by promoting the day through social media, most notably by being the largest account to take part in our online ‘thunderclap’ campaign organised in partnership with IGLYO.
Young people up and down the country helped ensure that this year’s focus of LGBT youth was in the forefront of public actions. In several universities and colleges student-led actions saw young activists work on projects that ranged from small events right up to large, multiple day projects.
At the University Of Manchester students and staff marked the day with flags, posters, fliers and computer screensavers seen across the city. The university also held a special film screening that coincided with the unveiling of an art work commemorating LGBT local hero Alan Turing, a leading early-computer scientist and cryptologist who was persecuted for his homosexuality in a time when it was still considered a crime in England.
At the University of Exeter students and local campaigners came together to organise events as part of Exeter Pride, which saw hundreds attend events held on the weekend of May 17th. The event featured a pride parade and a number of free activities, including a youth space, family zone, storytelling, film screenings and live music performance.
The event was organised by the Exeter Pride team with the cooperation of University Of Exeter students, local council authorities and a number of local business.
At the University of Kent the school’s equality and diversity team organised a special event that saw students mark the day. AS well as raising the rainbow flag over school buildings members of the University’s LGBT Staff Network ran an information stall on campus aiming to answer questions and help educate students on the issues facing the LGBT community.
In London the University Of London’s iconic Senate Building, which was the inspiration for George Orwell ‘Ministry Of Truth’, flew the rainbow flag in celebration of the day.
Employees of the British Library marked the day online by sharing a rare extract from their collection of a sonnets by Michelangelo as a special celebration of love for the day.
Transport For London also marked the day with the release of a special black cab, decorated with the rainbow pride colours. The iconic cab took to the streets after the efforts of TFL’s LGBT employee group OutBound, who campaigned for recognition of the event.
The colourful cab ended up one of the most notable actions in all of the UK and caused much discussion online. It was also featured on a number of websites and news outlets.
Participation was not just reserved for campaign groups and businesses however, as many council groups and local authorities also helped to promote the day. Richmond Council in London encouraged residents to engage with local events. While in Bolton the council supported efforts whilst also distributing rainbow pride flags to many schools across the city in an effort to encourage young people to be aware and engage with the day.
At Brighton And Hove council employees from the LGBT Workers Forum organised a special debate to mark the day, in which individuals discussed the impact and importance of issues such as homophobia and intolerance. The event was open to the public and was held on May 16th.
Several police branches too engages with the day by offering support or solidarity with campaigners and charities. In London the Metropolitan Police shared a message their support in an official statement in which they pledged to work with groups across the city to ensure the safety and protection of LGBT groups, especially during events on the day. Similar commitments and messages of support were also seen by police in Shrewsbury, Lewisham, Manchester, Liverpool and Norwich. Police also unofficially supported the day across the country by working with smaller groups to ensure that public events ran safely.
The Kaleidoscope Trust marked the day by bringing together three youth leaders from across the world for a special discussion focusing on the the challenges facing LGBTI youth globally. As part of the event Donnya D Piggot, director of Barbados Gays, Lesbians and All-sexualities Against Discrimination (B-GLAD); Leng Montgomery, a UK-based trans* activist, and Silas Mukangu, a sexual health and rights activist from Kenya, joined together to deliver the Trust’s annual IDAHOT lecture in London’s Canary Whard.
Leading youth charity Action For Children marked the day with a special online campaign in which they encouraged supporters across the country to engage with the actions facing LGBTI youth in the UK.
In Nottinghamshire the efforts of local activists saw the entire county become the site of widespread pride. In cooperation with the Nottinghamshire IDAHOT Group several local authorities joined in support with small events, public statements and rainbow flags. Police stations, colleges, libraries, hospitals, universities and even a castle all came together in one of the biggest examples of support in the country, in which hundreds of flags were proudly flown to mark the day.
Rainbow-flag-trent-920x400In Liverpool church members at St Bride’s Anglican Church held a special service to mark the day, in which music, video and art were all used to express support of LGBTI individuals. The group hoped that the event would help to bring Christian faith groups and LGBT groups closer together, whilst also promoting diversity, tolerance and acceptance among the city’s Anglican population.
In Leeds activists held a city-wide campaign aimed at tackling hate crime in the area. Organised by Leeds Bi Group the event aimed to share information and change perceptions on marginalised groups in the city. The event was also supported by Leeds City Council, and was covered by local news outlets and several websites.
In Sheffield film production group EDEN released a short film focusing on IDAHOT and the LGBT community. The group screened the film at a public rally and activity day organised by the group LGBT Sheffield. Events also included a number of stalls, activities and exhibitions.
In Swansea several groups joined together for a special day of tackling homophobia, biphobia and transphobia. Unity Group Wales, Transgender In Wales, Wipe Out Transphobia Wales and the South Wales Police cooperated for a campaign in support of the Welsh LGBTI community. As well as running a special public information stall in the city, individuals across all groups wore orange ‘Zero Tolerance’ ribbons to raise awareness for the day. Groups also raised awareness of the day whilst also promoting the shared message of tolerance and acceptance.
During the event individual participants and partner groups helped members of the public who may have experienced hate crimes by directing them to a special hate crime hotline set up by local police authorities.
In Cardiff Pride Cyrmu (Welsh Pride) organised the launch of their Young Persons Champion to coincide with the day. The event saw an evening of film, entertainment and discussions in association with Youth Cymru held at the Cardiff International White Water Centre.
The day was also marked by the Welsh government too. In celebration of the event the National Assembly for Wales officially marked the day by flying the rainbow flag at all official sites. The Assembly also issued a pledge on the day reaffirming their commitment to the LGBT community, which was signed by the Assembly Management Board, local employees and several members of parliament.
Earlier this year the Assembly was announced as the 4th most LGBT-friendly employer in the UK. Officials at the assembly also used the day to detail the steps taken to improve their commitment to both LGBT employees and the broader Welsh LGBT community.
May 17th was also officially recognised by central government authorities too. Prime Minister David Cameron marked the day with an online statement, in which he also announced the involvement of the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ). To mark the day GCHQ lit their national headquarters, known sometimes as ‘the doughnut’, in the rainbow colours.
The groups also stated “We are proud to be an organisation that recognises the strength of our diverse workforce and does not tolerate discrimination in any form”.
In Bolton local group Bolton Pride was supported by several local businesses and services who displayed flags, posters and fliers in their buildings in commemoration of the day. The event reportedly was well-supported by locals, many of whom went online to share their thoughts on the day.
In Newcastle local authorities marked the day by lighting the city’s Millenium Bridge in rainbow colours.
In Northern Ireland IDAHOT coincided was also the final day of the national LGBT awareness week. The week saw several events held in Belfast that tackled issues facing the global LGBT community. Events included a film screening, art exhibitions and discussions on topics ranging from homophobia to LGBT groups in the Christian faith. The event was organised by several campaigners from The Rainbow Project, Here and Cara-Friend and saw hundreds of individuals from Belfast and further afield engage on a broad range of important subjects.
Also in Northern Ireland faith groups marked the day with a special series of ecumenical services held in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. In NI services were held on Sunday morning in Belfast, Derry and Newry.
The services were coordinated by Changing Attitude Ireland with the aim of raising awareness among people of faith about the issues facing much of the LGBT community. The simultaneous events saw guest speakers addressing church groups throughout both countries at 3 sites in Northern Ireland and 5 in the Republic. The services also featured a special Christian focus on the issues of homophobia, transphobia and biphobia.

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