Equality in the law for everyone

September 16, 2017 9:42 AM
By Marko Scepanovic, Chair of Crawley Liberal Democrats

Brighton Pride took place this past weekend, and was more of a celebration than usual as we reached the 50 year anniversary since the decriminalisation of homosexuality in England and Wales. My personal belief is that love is love and it is something which we should embrace and celebrate, no matter what our sexual orientation.

All three major parties have over time done their bit to further LGBT+ rights, and whilst it is right for us to always celebrate every victory, we must still remember that society has a long way to go before we can declare ourselves truly equal.

Going to schools during the general election campaign and talking to students, I was happy to hear about the improvements in how schools tackle homophobia, even in the last 8 years from when I sat my GCSE's. The teenage years can often be tough enough without the homophobic bullying that can arise but with schools making vast efforts to improve inclusivity and tolerance, a new generation will grow up with a greater level of understanding.

However, the stigma does still remain in parts of society. This should not always be seen through simply the spectrum of homophobia but also a genuine lack of understanding about the thoughts and experiences of the LGBT+ community. Therefore, continuing to tackle the stigma from a schooling perspective is a must. More also needs to be done in the way of responsible journalism to highlight issues which the LGBT+ community faces both at home and abroad, as education is the best tool for tackling ignorance.

I've had discussions with members of the public who see the equalising of LGBT+ rights as an encroachment on theirs. As a Liberal, ultimately I do believe that every view ought to be allowed as we live in a free society. So, if someone does not agree with LGBT+ rights, they have every right to express that dissatisfaction and debate it in the public sphere.

Liberalism accepts a difference in opinion, but not a difference in rights and that's why whilst every debate on LGBT+ issues ought to be allowed, the bottom line must always be equality in the law for everyone. A person is entitled to hold whatever belief or view they wish, so long as that view does not lead to action which may hinder the legal rights or opportunities of a fellow human being.