Heritage

Queen Elizabeth II Pledges to Protect the LGBT Community

During her speech at the State Opening of Parliament, she vowed to "tackle" discrimination.
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Queen Elizabeth's speech at this week's State Opening of Parliament understandably focused heavily on the logistics and processes of the Brexit, but it also included a line of fierce support for the U.K.'s LGBT citizens.

"My government will make further progress to tackle the gender pay gap and discrimination against people on the basis of their race, faith, gender, disability, or sexual orientation," she said, before continuing on to talk about other noteworthy initiatives such as prioritizing mental health care, investigating the recent tragedy at Grenfell Tower, fighting climate change and terrorism, and supporting victims of domestic violence and abuse.

According to Pink News, a British LGBTQ+ media site, this was the first time LGBT rights were mentioned during a speech by the Queen since 2003, when she vowed to increase "equality and social justice by bringing forward legislation on the registration of civil partnerships between same-sex couples."

LGBT rights have come a long way in Britain over the course of the Queen's 65-year reign. Private homosexual acts between men over the age of 21 were not decriminalized in England and Wales until 1967, 15 years after Elizabeth ascended to the throne. The same law was not changed in Scotland until 1980, and in Northern Ireland until 1982.

Just last year, the Queen's cousin Ivor Mountbatten came out as the first openly gay member of the British royal family, and Prince William made history by appearing on the cover of a gay publication, but the Queen has not often expressed her views on the subject, despite a rumor that following the Royal Assent for marriage equality in 2015, she said, "Who’d have thought 62 years ago when I came to the throne, I’d be signing something like this? Isn’t it wonderful?"

While LGBT rights group Stonewall was "pleased" to hear gay and lesbian rights addressed during this year's speech, they feel the Queen could have said more to highlight issues facing the transgender community.

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“We were pleased to hear a clear acknowledgement that more must be done to tackle discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in the next two years, alongside other forms of discrimination," reads a statement from the organization. "But we are very concerned no mention was made of tackling discrimination based on gender identity.”

According to Pink News, they are seeking clarification of "the intention of this new government" regarding the acknowledgement of trans people and the discrimination they face.

This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.

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