Stonewall has won the case brought by LGB Alliance member Allison Bailey. Here’s a reminder of all the good the organisation is responsible for
BY ELEANOR NOYCE, IMAGE VIA PEXELS
Stonewall has won the case brought against it by Allison Bailey. A member of the hateful LGB Alliance which campaigns against the inclusion of trans people in the LGBTQI community, Bailey sued Stonewall after she believed that her employer used guidance outlined in the Stonewall Diversity Champions Programme to discriminate against her “gender critical views.”
So, in celebration of all the fantastic work that Stonewall does to support LGBTQI people, here’s a reminder of just a few things it has been responsible for over the years.
Helping to achieve the equalisation of the age of consent
Until 1997, gay and bisexual men across the UK were discriminated against by an unequal policy on the age of consent that labelled it 21 for same-sex male couples and 16 for straight couples. The age of consent was originally raised to 16 in 1885 to protect young girls and control so-called “juvenile sexualities.” Notably, this was amongst opposite-sex couples since homosexuality amongst men, as the accompanying 1885 La Bouchère Amendment, which later criminalised and prosecuted Oscar Wilde, rendered “buggery” a criminal offence.
The partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1967 set the age of consent at 21 for male same-sex couples, whilst opposite-sex couples continued to enjoy an age of consent of 16. Stonewall recognised this as prejudicial, supporting three young gay men, Hugo Greenhalgh, William Parry and Ralph Wilde at the European Court on 5 April 1993. Notably, in 1991 169 men who had had sex with another man were convicted of underage sex in England and Wales, with 13 sent to prison.
In 1994, the age of consent for male same-sex couples was reduced to 18. In 2001, the UK Government under Tony Blair equalised the age of consent across England and Wales. Without Stonewall’s input, this likely would’ve taken much, much longer.
Lifting the ban on LGB people serving in the military
In 2000, the military ban on LGB people serving in the UK military was lifted. Gay, lesbian and bisexual people had previously been prohibited from serving in the British Army, Royal Navy and RAF, with many facing dishonourable discharge and medals revoked. Stonewall spearheaded the movement campaigning against this ban after Robert Ely, having served in the British Army for 17 years, approached the organisation after he was thrown out of the army for being gay. Stonewall organised legal representation for Jeanette Smith and Duncan Listig Prean in 1998, who were forcibly removed from the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy respectively.
Securing legislation permitting same-sex couples to adopt
In 2002, same-sex couples became permitted to adopt with the Adoption and Children Act. Coming into force in December 2005, adjacent legislation was introduced in Scotland in 2009 and Northern Ireland in 2013. Stonewall’s lobbying was critical in influencing this legislation.
Repealing Section 28
Stonewall formed in 1989 by LGBTQI campaigners struggling against Section 28, a homophobic piece of legislation that forbid local councils from “promoting” homosexuality. Introduced by the Thatcher Administration in 1988, it was effective until 2003 in England and Wales and until 2000 in Scotland, rendering LGBTQI teachers across the country unable to disclose their sexuality to their employers for fear of losing their job. LGBTQI-inclusive education didn’t exist, and books written by LGBTQI people or even subtly hinting to LGBTQI themes were removed from library shelves.
Campaigning against IVF inequality faced by LGBTQI women, leading to the introduction of the Women’s Health Strategy by the UK Government
Stonewall’s latest landmark achievement has been the introduction of legislation protecting LGBTQI women against IVF inequality. Launching its campaign in 2021 with the help of lesbian couple, Whitney and Megan Bacon-Evans, Stonewall endeavoured to eradicate NHS rules which necessitated LGBTQI women and non-binary people spending thousands of pounds on fertility tests and donor sperm to facilitate their IVF journey. Launching legal action against NHS Frimley in 2021, Whitney and Megan spent up to £8000 without success, recognising these barriers as hugely discriminatory for LGBTQI women. Last week, the UK Government announced that the Women’s Health Strategy would protect against this IVF inequality, less than one year after the launch of Stonewall’s campaign.
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