Safe To Be Me: A Global Equality Conference will be the government’s first LGBT conference of its kind held in the UK. The conference, which take place in June 2022, will coincide with the 50th anniversary of the first official London Pride marches. It aims to “tackle inequality around the world, and urge countries to take action.”
The event will see policymakers, elected officials, activists, and experts come together to “protect and promote the rights of LGBT people around the world,” according to the government site.
Speaking about Safe To Be Me, the chair of the event, Nick Herbert (Lord Herbert of South Downs) said: “Across the world, 69 countries still criminalise consensual same-sex acts. The UK is considered a leader on LGBT equality, having legalised same-sex marriage and introduced one of the world’s most comprehensive legislative frameworks for protecting LGBT people from discrimination.”
The conference comes after Liz Truss, Minister for Women and Equalities, disbanded the previous LGBT Advisory Panel, which was set up by former Prime minister Theresa May in 2018. Its closing left many concerned the government were not taking the rights of LGBTQ+ people seriously. However, Truss commented on Safe To Be Me: “I want everyone to be able to live their life free from prejudice, malice, or violence, regardless of their background or who they choose to love.”
Already, campaigners and activists have criticised the UK government for not doing enough for the LGBTQ+ community. Journalist and author of LGBTQ+ rights book, We Can Do Better Than This, Amelia Abraham said to the Guardian: “The prime minister should deal with some of the huge issues facing LGBTQ+ people here before holding the UK up as a bastion of progress.”
On May 20, the government rejected a petition calling to make non-binary a legally recognised gender. In response to the petition, the government stated: “Following a considerable amount of consultation with the public and representative organisations, the Government decided that the current provisions within the GRA allow for those that wish to legally change their sex to do so fairly. The 2018 GRA consultation did not bring forward any proposals to extend the GRA to provide legal recognition to a third, or non-binary, gender.”
Countries that legally recognise non-binary or third gender classifications include Germany, Malta, New Zealand, Nepal, Pakistan, Argentina and India.
Meanwhile, the BBC reports that transphobic hate crime has quadrupled over the past five years in the UK. Just this week, the head of media at LGBTQ+ charity Stonewall UK, Jeffrey Ingold, has stepped back from the role due to the “tsunami of transphobia” he said he has experienced.
In addition to this, so-called “gay conversion” practices are technically still legal in the UK, as the Guardian reports. The government has said these practices will be banned, but haven’t confirmed when this will be. Liz Truss said: “As soon as parliamentary time allows, and following a consultation, the ban will be introduced in parliamentary legislation.”
Ahead of the Safe To Be Me conference, there will be a series of virtual events. Meanwhile, the UK and Argentina are currently co-charing the Equal Rights Coalition (ERC), and will be launching their strategy and five-year plan for LGBT rights at a meeting in July 2021.