International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia

Posted by Rachel Robinson on 17 May 2013

As Parliament takes one step closer to granting gay couples the right to marry next week it would be easy to assume discrimination on the basis of sexuality is a thing of the past.

But today marks International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia and, along with it, the release of a major EU-wide poll finding that a quarter of those surveyed had been subjected to attacks or violent threats in the past five years.

More than half had not reported the attack, believing the authorities would not take action – revealing a worrying disjoint between our assumptions and the reality experienced by gay people day to day.

Indeed while laws are changing, it seems there is still some work to be done on changing attitudes.

Here in the UK, the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill marks a historic step in the right direction for marriage equality, but there are still obstacles to true parity in the Bill – in particular an unjust provision which will see gay couples treated less favourably under occupational pension schemes. Gay employees pay into their pension schemes in the same way as their straight counterparts, yet may be entitled to just a fraction of the survivor benefits for their partners and spouses. 

The government argues that addressing this inequality would create unforeseen costs for pension schemes but this is no justification for discrimination.

Dr Caroline Lucas MP has tabled an amendment to the Bill – suggested by Liberty - asking that MPs take a stand on this anomalous and discriminatory pension issue. You can help by emailing your MP and asking them to vote for the amendment and ensure true equality for gay couples.

As today’s poll shows, it is not enough to be seen to be doing the right thing, there are real battles for equality that we still need to fight and win.

Rachel Robinson

Rachel Robinson

Policy and Advocacy Manager