The LGBTQ+ community is one of the most marginalised and persecuted against groups in history. It’s taken years of fighting to win just some of the rights straight people have. Even now, currently, LGBTQ+ people are still attacked, disbelieved and discriminated against by people who don’t agree with their lifestyle.
Before we start, we recognise that using LGBTQ+ as an umbrella term for people who are not straight and CIS gendered is problematic, as lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and queer individuals face discrimination that is unique to their sexuality and not interchangeable between them. This is a very complicated topic.
But in this article, we wanted to highlight some of the legal rights that have been won for LGBTQ+ people, and declare that we hope there are many, many more to come.
The right to get married
It took a long time to get there, but LGBTQ+ people now have almost the same rights when it comes to marriage as straight people do. You can choose either a civil or religious ceremony, but it is worth noting that some religious institutions still refuse to marry same sex couples.
If you do not want to get married, you can have a civil partnership, which provides almost all the same rights as marriage, but they are not technically the same thing. You won’t seal your civil partnership with vows, for example, instead you will sign a civil partnership document.
For LGBTQ+ people, a trip to the doctors can feel like a nightmare. A lot of LGBTQ+ people live their lives feeling as though they are being discriminated against or judged, so entering an office where someone quite often needs to put their hands on your body can be a daunting experience.
You have the absolute right to receive health and medical care without facing discrimination or being made to feel uncomfortable.
Absolutely all NHS services should have an equality and diversity policy that you can ask to see when you arrive.
You should be sure that your information is going to be kept confidential and should not be discriminated against based on your sexual orientation. If you are, you should make a complain.
The right to live and work freely
Being gay was decriminalised in 1967. Many gay people live today remember a time when they had to hide who they were because it was illegally to live freely.
These days, you not only have the right to be gay, you also have the right to live your life and work freely.
An employer is not allowed to discriminate against you or refuse to hire you on the basis that you are gay. That includes the military, police, fire brigade, or any other role you choose to go for.
The right to be exactly who you are
Transgender people have struggled for a long time for the right to be who they are. Now, the law protects them. The Gender Recognition Act was developed to protect the rights of transgender people to be exactly who they are without persecution or discrimination and, though there is a consensus that it needs reform, it was a huge step in the right direction.
The right to be safe
LGBTQ+ people have the right to feel safe wherever they are, whether it’s walking down the street or in the workplace. Unfortunately, one in five LGBTQ+ people have experienced a hate crime at some point in their lives. For transgender people, that figure increases to two in five.
Shockingly, four in five people who experienced these hate crimes did not report it to the police.
If someone has committed a hate crime against you, you absolutely have the right to take it further. LGBTQ+ people have the right to feel safe wherever they go, and you should not expect to be shouted at or abused for expressing your identity in public, by holding hands with your partner, for example.
The right to housing
Shockingly, around ten percent of all LGBTQ+ people find it difficult to rent a property because of discrimination.
You are absolutely entitled to housing and nobody has the right to refuse it to you based on your sexuality.
The right to faith
You have the right to believe in a religion of your choice, but unfortunately some faiths do not see it that way. An incredible one in three people who attend a faith service or place of worship are subjected to discrimination.
If you have been discriminated against for being LGBTQ+…
You have as much right as anyone else to live in safety and comfort. Your sexual orientation should never be a reason you do not get a job, cannot rent a house, or don’t feel safe walking down the street or sitting in a restaurant.
If you feel as though you have been discriminated against, there is a very good chance you can take legal action, and the perpetrator of the discrimination could owe you compensation or face a prison sentence.
For more information, call JMR Solicitors on 0161 491 3933, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.