In some ways the past decade has been an incredible decade for the LGBT community in the UK.
The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013, making same-sex marriage legal in the UK, was a momentous landmark.
The American Supreme Court Decision in favour of same-sex marriage has provided a new impetus to the global push for equality. I can live as I choose. I can love as I choose. I can worship as I choose. I have more options than ever before. Yet there is still much to fight for!
Over the next decade LGBT will continue to become more accepted than ever before. There will be more gay people in public life. Parliament now has more LGBT MPs than ever before. LGBT characters have emerged in all our favourite soaps, raising the temperature from Albert Square to Weatherfield. I predict that the next decade will also see the emergence of more HIV-positive people in public life. There will also be substantial progress on trans issues. Caitlyn Jenner is a beautiful star who has shattered a thousand stereotypes. Across the country, in every walk of life, we will find more empowered LGBT people.
I was bullied at school for being gay. During my mid-to-late teens I felt isolated. I came out to only a few of my contemporaries at school. The atmosphere in my school was homophobic and bullying was not addressed by teaching staff. It is just over one decade ago that I left for university. I was pleased to escape and flourished as an individual once I was free to express my sexuality. Stonewall are doing great work in schools to combat LGBT bullying. Young LGBT people are coming out in their early teens in environments which are supportive of them. Young LGBT people will be able to develop their identities without fear of abuse due to their sexuality.
HIV continues to impact gay men. Approximately 1 in 20 gay men in the UK is HIV positive and this statistic increases to 1 in 8 in London. There is an ageing demographic for HIV, a trend which will continue as we live longer. 1 in 6 people accessing care for HIV is now 55 or over.
Pre-Exposure Prophlaysis (PrEP) will hopefully be made available broadly on the NHS. This is very important for the gay community and it should have a dramatic impact on new diagnoses. We can expect to be safer and healthier. I am co-infected with Hep C, which in a decade should no longer be an issue for gay men. New treatments may mean that Hep C is ultimately eliminated in the UK.
The next ten years will be important for the Church of England on LGBT issues. Over the last century the relationship between the gay community and faith has often been confrontational. LGBT people have, in the past, been discriminated against by the Church. There are wonderful people within the Church of England, such as Jeffrey John, the openly gay Dean of St Albans and my own priest, Giles Goddard, the former head of Inclusive Church. They are role models for faith, comfortable in their Christianity and their sexuality. The Church of England is making some progress on LGBT issues. It was sad that Justin Welby choose to censure the US Episcopal Church, at the recent Anglican Primates Conference, for their stance on same-sex marriage. I hope that by 2026, same-sex marriage will be recognised by the Church of England and we will have seen the appointment of an openly gay bishop.
In 10 years time LGBT people will be subject to less stigma. Increased visibility, better medical treatment and changes to core institutions will mean that we have a healthier and happier society. We should celebrate the achievements of the last decade and can look forward to a brighter future.
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