by Meghan Green from Space Youth Project

Section 28 of the Local Government Act, in force in the United Kingdom from 1988 - 2003, stated that local authorities "shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality" or "promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship" ...all we can say is, thank goodness for progress! 

School’s OUT UK founded LGBT+ History Month in February 2005, in the wake of, and in reaction to, the abolition of Section 28 and it has been celebrated annually since then. 

During LGBT+ History Month, we remember the trailblazers, the pioneers, and the icons. We celebrate the protests, the triumphs and the progress, while we reflect on the challenges, the negativity and the losses we faced. 

We do all of this with the aim of creating safe spaces for LGBT+ people, both in the wider world and, most importantly, in the education systems which were banned from talking about them for so long. By raising awareness for the issues that members of the LGBT+ community face, increasing LGBT+ visibility, and retelling stories from our history, we promote the welfare of LGBT+ people and enable them to fulfill their full potential. 

This year’s theme for LGBT+ History Month is Mind, Body, and Spirit. Looking at our past through this lens allows us to reflect on the history of sexual violence against the LGBT+ community, who have always been at greater risk of abuse due to being marginalised, stigmatised and hypersexualised, in addition to facing high rates of poverty and hate crimes. 

A survey done by the CDC showed that lesbians and bisexual women experienced sexual violence 26% more frequently than their heterosexual counterparts, and gay and bisexual men faced forms of sexual violence other than rape over twice as frequently as straight men. Meanwhile, Galop, the LGBT+ anti-violence charity, found that 1 in 5 trans people had experienced or been threatened with sexual violence, however, fewer than 15% of trans people reported these experiences to the police, with 70% of respondents feeling that the police could not help them. 

Not only is support from the police lacking in these situations, but representation is also alarmingly low. An article published by UK Says No More, highlights how LGBT+ victims are sometimes unaware of what they’ve endured due to the typecast image of a heterosexual abusive relationship taking precedent in mainstream media and pushing stories of LGBT+ abuse into being ‘niche’, despite its real life prevalence. 

The article also asks us to reflect on possible solutions, and how we can build a system which supports all survivors of sexual violence. 

Taking a hard look at our history, especially with Mind, Body and Spirit at the forefront of our thoughts, tells us that there is no quick and easy fix to this, but that it is vital for us to move forward, united against sexual violence by creating safe spaces and increasing awareness of LGBT+ History. This will open doors for the next generation to overcome antiquated barriers, still ingrained in society, and make it easier for victims of sexual violence to come forward. 

That’s why the work done by local organisations such as Space Youth Project and STARS is so vital moving forward.

Space Youth Project offers support for all members of the LGBT+ community across Dorset, under 25 years of age, regardless of race, religion or social background. This is delivered through multiple services including: weekly groups; informal 1 to 1 support; family support; and counselling. Space also provides educational resources and training for professionals, teachers, and families, and runs assemblies and lessons in schools across the county. In this way, we strive to provide local young people with the awareness and support they may need and aim to build a brighter future where LGBT+ people are empowered alongside the wider community against sexual violence. 


Human Rights Campaign:

UK Says No: