1st June 2022
Laws may change but society is still catching up…
Civica’s Cem Turhan introduces our new LGBTQIA+ affinity group and explains there’s still much work to do
June is Pride Month when we remember those involved in the Stonewall Riots and the progress made in levelling up the rights of LGBTQIA+ people across the UK and beyond.
Sure, you might ask – I’m not gay or trans, why should I care? Well, that, frankly, is a position of privilege. It wasn’t so long ago when women couldn’t vote, people couldn’t divorce easily, or interracial marriages were frowned upon. Many social rights we take for granted today were once likely unacceptable or even illegal, just like gay marriage which was only made legal in 2014 (a date so recent I’m sure many people will think is crazy)!
Social behaviours take much longer to follow suit than law sometimes. Even as a gay man, if I see two men holding hands in the street my first reaction is to think, ‘Wow, that’s strange’. Not because I think it’s wrong, but because I was socialised as a child to think it was different and against the norm. I grew up in a time when people at school or in the media would make being gay the butt of the joke. Yes, laws have changed since then, but socially we’re still growing and changing.
There’s much more hope for young people these days who are growing up in a society more tolerant towards self-expression and individuality. Hopefully, these young people will never face any of the prejudices other generations have, and like me, the entrenched self-hate that those prejudices can bring.
We all know how fast society is changing. Sometimes with new technologies, it can even feel like things are changing too much, too soon. But we must be very careful to distinguish between what is uncomfortable with what is just and true. The extension of equal rights for LGBTQIA+ people is a blessing, and we need to protect them, not confuse them with other areas of our changing society. Being gay is still criminalised in 70+ jurisdictions around the world, and the changes we make in countries like the UK help to speed up the development of rights in other countries. However, I understand that for many finding changes to be coming in thick and fast, it’s hard to acclimate to where you should now ‘be’ with your thoughts on LGBTQIA+ rights and issues.
That’s why, in Civica UK’s brand-new LGBTQIA+ affinity group, we want Pride to be for everyone, gay and straight alike. Our aim is to provide news, support and guidance for the LGBTQIA+ community. But we also want to create a safe space to ask ‘silly questions’ for our allies. We’ll be putting on lots of events including a panel session for any of these questions, a dedicated LGBTQIA+ newsletter, social events and more.
We can’t wait to celebrate Pride with our Civica colleagues this month. While Pride is serious and about things that really affect the world in a meaningful way, it’s also about having fun, enjoying life and celebrating diversity in every way possible!
Our business only works because it is diverse and brings people together from all different mindsets and walks of life; we achieve so much because we have such a breadth of skills and imagination. Supporting our LGBTQIA+ people and making them feel like they can bring their full selves to work helps to increase productivity and brings out the best in everyone too.