There has been massive social changes that have resulted in legal protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in the UK. However, there remain challenges and battles, not only in the UK but across the world. Discrimination and prejudice are still suffered by LGBT people, and there are particular difficulties around the support and protection of transgender people, in schools, in prisons, in workplaces and on the street.
Allies recognise that it’s not just the responsibility of LGBT people to create an inclusive culture. The action they take can range from being a leader of an organisation that puts LGBT equality at the heart of their work to being a junior member of staff who challenges homophobic banter amongst colleagues.
Below, some of our colleagues outline why being an LGBT ally is important to them.
“I have a gay brother and I’ve seen first-hand some of the struggles he’s had through school and into adulthood. It’s always struck me as unfair the way some people try to use a person’s sexuality against them. I’m proud of the Assembly’s achievements on LGBT equality and how an inclusive and diverse working culture can create a great place to work. For all of these reasons, I became an Ally.”
“It’s important for me to support my colleagues by being an Ally of OUT-NAW because I believe that everyone deserves the right to be happy and comfortable in their workplace. Becoming an ally of the LGBT network was the natural thing to do for me, since we don’t need a stage to be who we are. Life is not an audition, and to quote the chorus of that memorable song, taken from La Cage Aux Folles: Life’s not worth a damn ‘til you can say, Hey World, I am what I am.”
“Signing up to the allies programme didn’t require any thought. For me, it’s about personal values and a lesson learnt early about treating others in a way you would want to be treated. People don’t leave who they are at the door when they come to work, and that’s the motivation for me and why it’s important to be an ally. We all adopt personas in the workplace to some extent, but not being able to be yourself, on a fundamental level, is something I would not want to tolerate. So I support LGBT equality because I can’t think of a single reason not to.”
“LGBT people are our doctors, our nurses, our police officer, our family, our friends. They are Muslim, Christian, atheist. They are Black, White, Asian. They are disabled. They are young and old. They are male, female and everything in between. As the late MP Jo Cox said, “we are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us”, and as long as there is a fight for LGBT equality, I will stand by their side as an ally.”
“I didn’t think twice before becoming an Ally. I was going to say that ‘I think everyone has the right to be themselves’ but I don’t think that, I know that! Everyone does have the right to be themselves. Sexuality doesn’t define you as a person, relationships and friendships are about love, not gender. And in the words of Lady Gaga – “No matter gay, straight, or bi, lesbian, transgendered life, I’m on the right track baby, I was born to survive.”
“I’m proud to work at the Assembly, because of the work that we do, and because of the contribution that we make for the people of Wales. I became an ally of Out-NAW in my first week at the Assembly because it’s important to me that the people I work with can be themselves, without fear or prejudice, and can feel equally proud of the Assembly as an inclusive, welcoming employer. Working here feels honest, diverse, and celebratory – great stuff!”
For more information on our LGBT network, our allies or about LGBT-inclusion within the Assembly, please contact the Diversity and Inclusion Team.
Further information and tips on how allies can help to create an LGBT-inclusive workplace are available in Stonewall’s workplace guide.