Surya Monro is based at the Centre for Research in the Social Sciences, University of Hudderfield, UK, email . Surya has published substantially in the fields of gender and sexuality, notably on the topics of transgender, lesbian, gay and bisexual equality, and sexual/gender citizenship.
She is the author of Gender Politics: Citizenship, Activism, and Sexual Diversity (Pluto Press 2005) and is currently writing, together with Professor Diane Richardson, a book on sexuality and equality for Palgrave MacMillan. Surya has been involved in a wide range of research projects, including research in India and South Africa. Her most recent projects about LGBT equalities in local government (co-applicant, with Diane Richardson as PI, http://research.ncl.ac.uk/selg/), and social cohesion in the UK (with colleagues at the University of Huddersfield).
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Equalities in the UK: The Noughties
The New Labour era has witnessed a sea change in LGBT equality in the UK, in terms of public opinion, legislation, and equality implementation mechanisms. There has been a cultural shift towards valuing diversity, so that to a degree, LGBT identities have become normalised. The raft of equalities legislation (as well as the repeal of Section 28) underpins this shift, as do developments such as the introduction of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission. Changes have also taken place in the communities, including a movement towards the combination of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people within the LGBT acronym, and the professionalisation of the community sector to a degree.
There are still substantial challenges concerning LGBT equalities. The inequalities that LGBT people may face are particularly stark when multiple disadvantage and intersectional discrimination are considered, including inequalities relating to ethnicity, gender, spatiality, and socio-economic class. Bisexuality is routinely included within the LGBT acronym, but this inclusion is largely rhetorical, and prejudice towards bisexuals exists in both the lesbian and gay, and heterosexual, communities. Transgender people who fit into the gender-reassigning model are now well supported by the legislation, but the situation may be more difficult for trans people who identify outside of the gender binary system.
This talk addresses the above issues, drawing on empirical material from a large Economic and Social Research Council-funded examination of the impact of recent policy changes, in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, on sexualities equalities initiatives. The project involved in depth qualitative research with four local authorities selected to include those in which little equalities work concerning sexuality and transgender was taking place. We organised Action Learning Sets in Northern Ireland, Wales, and Northern and Southern England, facilitating local authority actors in engaging – together with community activists and statutory partners in some cases – with the key issues in conducting sexuality and transgender equalities work.