February is described by society as “the most romantic month of the year”, with Valentine’s Day being the main mark for it. But because of this annual occurrence of a monthly love theme, February is also the month where equal love is most discussed, promoted and celebrated. Of course this goes without saying that equal love should be (and is) promoted all year round by LGBT pioneers, Allies and LGBT+ folk themselves. But with February being LGBT History Month, it is not only the time of year for people gay, straight and otherwise to eat heart-shaped chocolates and play love songs in the car (both happy and sad) - it is the point on the calendar where we take a look at how far forward (and sometimes backward) society has come for LGBT+ rights throughout history, both old and modern.
So how far has society come? A long way, that’s for certain. But there’s still a long way to go. It looks like a mixed picture. The good news? More and more (and evermore) spots on the globe both big and small are legalising same-sex marriage and making marriage equality. 36 out of 50 States currently have marriage equality, and same-sex marriage in England and Wales was passed in July 2013, coming into force on March 13th 2014. Just two weeks ago, Scotland saw the first ever same-sex Pagan wedding between two male hedge witches. And thanks to historic events both old and new such as The Civil Rights Act of July 2nd 1964; the Stonewall Riots of June 28th 1969; The March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay, and Bi Equal Rights and Liberation of April 25th 1993; The Gender Recognition Act of April 4th 2005; The Equality Act of October 1st 2010, and the most recent version of the Gender Equality Act from just last year, equality is breaking through in abundance and communities are strengthening- so we like to think. But it’s not all roses, and we’re not finished yet. The bad news? There’s still so much stigma around the topic, more than we would think. And there’s still a lot of ostracizing, abuse and discrimination in the LGBT+ community. Only 18 States legally protect LGBT+ people from conversion therapy. And thanks to this conversion “therapy”, people like the 17 year old transgender girl Leelah Alcorn commit suicide and become statistics. Leelah is surely an example of someone who became more than just a statistic to society, (of course no one is simply just a number in any case), but people like her are psychologically abused (pseudo-scientifically) in the name of religion as an excuse to the point where they are driven to suicide. It’s people like these that can’t be forgotten. We are more than just statistics. We are people. But the statistics are still surprisingly shocking. 78 countries in the whole world outlaw all homosexual activity, with severe institutional, corporal or capital punishments. And this example of 2014’s transgender statistics shows just how bad things can be:
So does this all still really matter? Of course it does! History is past, present and future, and society should stay on the right side of LGBT+ history and head in the right direction. Because many people affected are ourselves or our families and friends. And there is no second-class citizenship.