PCS members joined a solidarity protest against homophobic attacks in Birmingham on Thursday.
There have been a spate of attacks in the gay village area recently, with people being bottled and one person left unconscious.
The protest on Thursday drew several hundred people including many people from the LBGT+ community, trade unionists from the PCS, NEU, UCU and UNISON, local Labour councillors and campaigners. A wide range of people spoke condemning the attacks and expressing solidarity. Several speakers highlighted the rising tide of Transphobia and the need to resist it. In a moving speech two of the victims of these attacks spoke up and called for us all to stand together.
Hate crimes related to sexual orientation and gender identity have been on the increase since 2015. The Guardian reports “In the year to March 2020 in England and Wales, sexual orientation hate crimes rose by 19% to 15,835, and transgender identity hate crimes by 16% to 2,540 – averaging more than 50 reports each day.” These are horrific figures.
This rise has not occurred in a vacuum. We have a Prime Minister who is happy to use homophobic language. The government have unleashed a culture war which includes continued attacks on Stonewall and the scrapping of their LGBT+ advisory panel. They cancelled the reform of the Gender Recognition Act. These are all dog whistle politics from the Tory Party that create a climate in which attacks increase.
As an LGBT+ ally I was proud to attend the solidarity protest. I want to live in a society where my children can choose their sexuality free from fear. I want my work colleagues to be free to express their sexuality without fear of attack.
As the Tories press on with their attacks on the working class they will continue to try to divide us. We will all lose if they succeed. We need to fight for unity in the face of every attack, whether that is in the workplace or the community.