Stonewall is Europe’s largest LGBTQ+ rights charity. Founded in 1989, the charity has been working for over three decades so that all LGBTQ+ people are treated with dignity and respect.
I caught up with Nancy Kelley, Stonewell’s Chief Executive, for Pride Month.
I asked Nancy which Pride event she first attended?
I was 21, I was living in San Francisco and I wasn’t out. I marched with my work, a blindness charity. We got to march behind the Dykes on Bikes and for anyone that hasn’t seen the Dykes on Bikes they are unbelievably impressive and unbelievably hot. There were hundreds and hundreds of them in this particular Pride parade. It was glorious, exciting and should have given me a clue to come out right then.
The UK dropped to 17th on LGBTQ+ rights in Europe. What factors are driving this trend?
What’s happening is that the UK was for a long time a leader in LGBTQ+ rights and we’ve stagnated. We’ve stopped moving forwards and lots of other countries have gone further and faster in protecting LGBTQ+ rights. We’re lagging behind other progressive nations when it comes to protections of the rights of trans people, particularly the right to have your gender identified through a legal declaration. We’re lagging behind protecting the rights of intersex people. We’re lagging when it comes to outlawing conversion practices, so we’ve been talking about it for five years here in the UK but we haven’t got around to doing anything about it. Lots of other countries are ploughing ahead, introducing legislation that protects LGBTQ+ people from abuse. We’re dropping very quickly down the rankings of nations in Europe when it comes to LGBTQ+ rights and there’s a real need to arrest that drop and get back on track.
Which LGBTQ+ issues concern you most globally?
It’s a really mixed picture. There are lots of countries that are moving forwards still and it is important to remember that. I referenced it when we talked about nations that are progressing in terms of rankings on rights. In Uganda we have just seen the most homophobic, biphobic and transphobic legislation that has ever been passed in the world. Instead of moving forwards, going backwards rapidly, so all LGBTQ+ people and people who support them are at risk of imprisonment.
Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act is appalling. Can you give some more examples?
We can think of the situation in Hungary, or Afghanistan where we do a lot of work to support LGBTQ+ Afghan people escape from the Taliban. There are universal human rights principals that should be guaranteed to everyone everywhere and that’s under real threat. More and more nations pick and choose when it comes to human rights. When nations adopt that approach its often LGBTQ+ communities that suffer.
Who inspires you the most?
This Pride season I’m being really inspired by meeting children and young people who either are LGBTQ+ themselves or have LGBTQ+ friends and family and watching this generation embrace themselves or our community. It is really beautiful, uplifting and inspiring, at a time when there is a lot in our external environment that is negative. Just understanding how far we’ve come since I was a teenager is incredibly uplifting.
How can our readers support Stonewall?
For those of you that have got money to spare, it’s always great to get donations. We also, really importantly, rely on members of the public to support our campaigns. We’ve got a campaign Back On Track, when it comes to LGBTQ+ rights and that’s about influencing the manifestos of all of the major parties. You can go online, sign the pledge and push your MPs to get engaged. You can work with us as part of our campaign to ban conversion practices, you can support us in our campaign to make sure that all lesbians, bi women and trans people who need it are able to access IVF. Follow us on social media or visit the website – every letter, email and penny help.