Gay rights - how far have we come?
In Episode 1 of Series 2 of The Rights Track, we talk gay rights with Richard Beaven, successful businessman and Trustee of the LGBT campaign group Stonewall. Todd asks to what extent the struggle for gay rights has also advanced the human rights of the LGBT community and invites Richard to reflect on his personal and professional efforts to be its champion.
- Todd asks Richard for this thoughts on the successes and set backs faced by those fighting for equal rights for the LGBT community
- Richard says he feels positive about the legislative changes that have taken place in recent years especially the sorts of things Stonewall has campaigned for. He refers to increased diversity and inclusivity marked by major events such as the well known Pride marches which take place across the UK and in other countries.
- Richard says he believes that many homophobic and racist sentiments have been buried however and that events such as Brexit and the election of Donald Trump in the United States have seen them rise again to the surface.
- Todd talks about his experiences as an American coming to the UK where he detected a ‘playfulness’ around homosexuality especially in the theatre and pantomime traditions that might have masked the sort of homophobia Richard is referring to.
- The discussion moves onto the linkages between homophobia and racism
- Richard talks about how leaders across time have used minority groups to take advantage of dissatisfaction in a population by making them out to be “a false enemy” in order to gain power
- Todd refers to the political theorist Ernesto Laclau’s concept of ‘the logic of equivalence’ where people from disparate backgrounds are all called the same thing and how that’s been used by politicians like Nigel Farage and Donald Trump.
- Todd mentions an HMIC report of 6,000 hate crimes in the immediate wake of the EU referendum and a report by the Southern Poverty Law Centre on the numbers of hate crimes in the 10 days following the American Presidential election.
- Richard says there are also problems within minority groups and says he has witnessed a great deal of this
- Todd says this challenges the assumption that all minority groups will get on together
- Todd says the fact that there is a ‘white’ London Pride and a ‘black’ London Pride reinforces this
- The discussion moves to the Women’s movement and comparisons with the issues faced by the gay community. Todd mentions a blog on the Verso Books site arguing that “Elite White Feminism Gave Us Trump”
- Richard talks about his experiences within business of the difficulties faced by women and what the businesses he has worked with are trying to do around issues of diversity and inclusion
- Richard reflects on the challenges businesses face in getting talented women into positions of seniority within business, the mistakes they have made and how businesses need to rethink their strategy to rectify this. He acknowledges it’s a particular problem in his own business of insurance where openly gay individuals who join the industry then go back into the closet after doing so.
- Todd refers to the Kinsey scale which indicates that 1/10 people is gay and yet the gay community is hugely underrepresented in many organisations. He asks if it raises questions about the validity about initiatives and groups that try to foster and promote gay rights
- Richard believes that people don’t necessarily want to define themselves by their sexuality
- Richard says LGB has come along way but T (Trans) hasn’t - he talks about some of his first hand experiences of working with Trans people to try to help them
- Richard reflects on his personal experiences with his own family and also about some of the massive support for Stonewall Campaigns such as the recent Sport Turns Rainbow football campaign and in schools
- He argues there is still a lot to do especially in countries where it is still illegal to be gay but concludes that he is positive and optimistic about the future