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Photo: Hanna Sörensson [Flickr]

This year’s annual ILGA Europe Rainbow Map paints a stark and sad picture of a government sleepwalking from a position of leadership to complacency on LGBTQ+ rights. The UK has dropped 11% on this internationally respected ranking, the most significant drop of any country in Europe and a clear acceleration of a longer negative trend.

LGBTQ+ people across the UK recognise this picture. From being number one on the Rainbow Map in 2015, to 14th in 2022, our communities have felt the warmth fade from our political leaders. The historic passing of same-sex marriage legislation feels a long time ago, and since then progress on LGBTQ+ rights have been mired by delays and dithering.

Over the last two years particularly we have seen watering down of proposals to protect our community – a weakening of support for existing protections, the mainstreaming of anti-LGBTQ+ hate in politics and the media, and the fragmenting of our national human rights institution’s support for our community’s rights. This has all taken place while hate crime reports have risen every year since 2016.

Real harm happens when we are complacent about human rights.

Years of progress on LGBTQ+ policy that was achieved under successive administrations has been rapidly eroded by a UK Government that has taken its foot of the pedal, and failed to show compassion or leadership on protecting our most vulnerable communities.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

These failures are choices, and we can see how other parts of the UK are choosing to think differently. The governments of both Scotland and Wales continue to push forward in their goal of being LGBTQ+ inclusive countries.

At the recent local elections, parties who actively espoused anti-LGBTQ+ policies in those nations tanked at the polls. These culture war positions are ideological attacks that are overwhelmingly unpopular with the public.

As we approach the 50th anniversary of the first Pride in the UK, the Prime Minister can make a choice to step back into the game as a leader in protecting and promoting LGBTQ+ rights, or to let this slide continue, causing untold harm across our communities, and further tarnishing our country’s reputation on the global stage.

We call for his active leadership, to rebuild our human rights institutions, and to deliver a strategic policy programme that enables all LGBTQ+ people in the UK to live their lives in freedom and safety.