IDAHOBIT Day 2020: I am an Ally
As the whole of England is acutely aware, the 17th of May signals our long awaited return to the warmth of restaurants, bars and museums, as they are finally allowed to re-open. As of today, we wave goodbye to shivering outside, nursing our pints in the rain (we hope!).
But more importantly, the 17th of May also marks International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (“IDAHOBiT”). On this day each year, over 130 countries around the world seek to celebrate sexual and gender diversities and draw attention to the various forms of discrimination and violence that the LGBTQ+ community continue to experience.
This year the theme of IDAHOBiT is “Together: Resisting, Supporting, Healing!” This theme was chosen to recognise the global challenges the pandemic has brought us and to mark the struggles of the LGBTQ+ community over the past year.
As we have all felt during the pandemic, communities and social bonds are essential to our wellbeing. As IDAHOBiT underlines, for those who identify as LGBTQ+, community has a special importance: in a world which can still unfortunately be unwelcoming to us, spaces in which we are welcomed and valued are crucial.
For each of us, the LGBTQ+ community has provided solace, support, understanding, friends and our very own family. The LGBTQ+ community is often the place you turn when you first come out, the place you find solidarity when you experience homophobia and the place where you celebrate your pride to be part of such a wonderful group of people. It is a lifeline to all of us at some point.
For heterosexual and cisgendered people, community often exists within mainstream culture and social constructs (family, religion, education, workplaces), where their sexuality and gender is normalised and accepted. For LGBTQ+ people, this community of acceptance often has to be created, and LGBTQ+ venues play a founding role in this.
As many LGBTQ+ venues re-open today, we must bear in mind the number of LGBTQ+ venues in London which have closed in the past 15 years: since 2006, we have seen 124 venues fall to just 49. These spaces are treasured. Thankfully, in September 2020, the Mayor of London announced emergency funding for 11 LGBTQ+ venues hit by the pandemic. At the time, Sadiq Khan said: “I am so proud to be the Mayor of a city which embraces openness and diversity. The pandemic has had a significant impact on our LGBTQ+ venues, which we know play a vital role in supporting the community, acting as a safe haven where they can feel comfortable and free to be who they are”.
But this does not go far enough. As the pandemic continues to affect business, it is crucial that their survival continues. With the moratorium on landlords’ ability to forfeit leases on commercial property for non-payment of rent ending on 30 June 2021, we must actively show our support to these venues with our attendance and participation. What better way to do this than by raising a toast to IDAHOBiT at your local LGBTQ+ venue today.
Kingsley Napley's LGBTQ+ & Allies network was established in 2012. The network enables LGBTQ+ staff and their allies to come together to work towards an inclusive workplace in which we can all reach our full potential without fear of discrimination.
Emily Elliott is an Associate in Kingsley Napley’s criminal litigation team. She is co-chair of the firm’s LGBTQ & Allies network and member of the Diversity and Inclusion committee.
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