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Make 2024 a year for pink power
Spend your money with our friends not our foes
January 2024 Simon, PinkUk
Five easy things to do to make 2024 a fantastic year for pink power and freedom.
You can be assertive, passionate and have fun at the same time while making 2024 a watershed year to remember for pink equality, writes Simon Williams, PinkUk Editor.
We offer some easy-to-do things to help make a difference and stop us sliding backwards in 2024.
Since the legalisation of same-sex civil marriage across most of the English-speaking West in the last decade or so we have seen an unprecedented complacency in many quarters of LGBTQ+ activism - among people who would in earlier times have been active and vigilant because they understood that things can move backwards as well as forwards.
When one looks back over the decades and the start of the modern ‘gay pride’ and liberation movements of the 1960s and ‘70s there was absolutely no room for complacency. The partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in the UK and much of the West, compounded by the HIV/AIDS epidemic with knock-on homophobia and reactionary legislation which penalised later generations of LGBTQ+ communities, inevitably fired up the activism and an awareness of the gruelling campaigning that lay ahead.
A notorious example was the reactionary legislation in the UK Section 28 - the first anti-gay law for 100 years. Introduced by the Thatcher Government in 1988 at the peak of paranoia about the spread of HIV/AIDS, it sought to restrict local councils from including pro-homosexual identities in schools, public libraries and other local public services.
The paradox was that as homophobia increased, the more mobilised and politically assertive activists became, leading many years later to a succession of breakthroughs for equal rights: employment discrimination, equalisation of the age of consent for gay men with heterosexuals, civil partnerships and eventually same-sex marriage.
As the political, legal and health battles were won and new anti-viral treatments began to prevent people dying from AIDS from the late 1990s along with the repeal of Section 28 in the UK in 2003, the urgency of activism began to fade.
In danger of going backwards
Fast forward to 2024: we are in danger of progress faltering. This can be seen from the rise of book banning of LGBTQ+ topics in schools, the ‘Don't Say Gay’ law in force in Florida which resembles Section 28 to the US Supreme Court's legalisation of discrimination in commercial services where a ‘creative’ supplier, such as a web designer, can now refuse to provide for services to LGBTQ+ communities.
Then there’s the muddle the UK Government has got itself into in banning (or rather not banning) conversion therapies even though France, Germany, Spain - even India - as well as many US and some Australian states have found ways to ban the most evil of conversion practices. There’s also the shadow cast across the US by the risk of the deeply conservative US Supreme Court reversing a court case that had opened up same-sex marriage across the US; some fear the Court could act in the same way that it reversed the universal right to an abortion across the US (subject to some medical limits) in 2022.
We also face the creeping commercialisation and depoliticisation of Prides and other LGBTQ+ festivals which threaten to replace defending our freedoms with greed and bland commercial ways to burn our pink cash.
So what to do about it? Here’s five simple things to do in 2024:
Think about a small donation. Make a small donation to an LGBTQ+ local community centre, campaign group welfare charity. In the UK one that we recommend is the Albert Kennedy Trust which helps homeless LGBTQ+ young people find accommodation. You can read more about akt. In the US there is the Rainbow Youth Project among other similar providers.
Stop watching TikTok for serious news (OK, I'm being unfair it’s fine for fun things) but learn about the real threats to LGBTQ+ people through our communities’ own media (preferably their news sites not their TT channels). Even better subscribe to campaign groups’ e-newsletters (many are just weekly or monthly) such as the Peter Tatchell Foundation, founded by the eponymous UK-based human rights campaigner who, daily, bravely defends LGBTQ+ people around the world. In 2023 he was placed under house arrest in India for several days by police as he highlighted the risk of homophobic countries likely to host the 2036 Olympics. You can also support Peter's work by donating to the Peter Tatchell Foundation.
Don't spend your hard-earned pink pounds, euros or dollars on international tourism to countries which suffer cruel homophobic regimes. Check out our list of countries where it is still illegal to be gay, including countries where there is the death penalty. There’s plenty of amazing LGBTQ+ friendly destinations to fit all kinds of holiday tastes, whether it’s tropical islands, city shopping breaks, cruises, history and culture, mountain climbing or skiing you're after. Spend your money with our friends, not our foes.
Make sure you vote in 2024! People sacrificed a lot over history to enable us to vote. Unusually both the US and the UK have general elections this year. Decide which political parties have the most LGBTQ+ friendly policies. The US election as always is in November and the UK’s date is yet to be announced but will be this year. Also, more than 400 million voters in the European Union will vote between 6 and 9 June for the European Parliament, the largest multi-country election in the world. There's a few millions of LGBTQ+ identifying people in the EU. Use your voter power.
Check what your local Pride festival says about sponsorship and its themes. Is there a political angle or is it just about their advertisers and sponsors? If they aren't promoting the cause of equality then they are betraying the origins of the worldwide Pride movement. You can check out the largest database of Pride festivals around the world at PinkUk.Love and Pink respect from PinkUk and wishing you a fun, and a very Pink 2024. xx
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