Ross Davies, Diversity and Inclusion Manager at the National Assembly for Wales
Each year on 17 May, people across the world mark International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT) to celebrate the diversity of gender identities and sexual orientations. The day is used by campaigners to highlight important issues to policy makers, leaders, the public and the media to help combat hatred, bigotry and discrimination.
The campaign provides a voice to people facing marginalisation because they do not conform to a heteronormative narrative (the assumption that heterosexuality is normal and that anything other than heterosexuality is abnormal) or a cisgender narrative (people whose gender identity matches the sex that society assigned to them when they were born).
Many of the issues that are addressed on IDAHOBIT come from the ‘othering’ of a group because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, often based on prejudice and stereotypes.
While there is the tendency to talk about the LGBT+ community as a singular entity, we must of course remember and celebrate the diversity of LGBT+ people within the community.
People with minority sexual orientations, including people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, asexual, pansexual, ambisexual, are clearly not a homogenous group – age, gender identity, race, disability, religion and many other characteristics underpin their identity.
The same is true for trans people, whose personhood goes beyond their gender identity. Many people may have a narrow understanding of what it means to be trans, and that is someone who undergoes gender reassignment surgery. But the very concept of a trans identity is filled with variances and differing experiences – there are trans men, trans women, people who identify as gender fluid, people who identify as neither male nor female, people who are androgynous.
In the same way that a disabled person is more than their disability and a black person is more than just the colour of their skin, LGBT+ people cannot be limited to one single identity category. To do so would be reductive and would risk producing narrow versions of what it means to be LGBT+.
Having multiple identities can result in different issues of discrimination occurring at the same time. For example, an older lesbian may face discrimination on multiple grounds – as a woman, as an older person and as someone of a minority sexual orientation. However, as a combination of all of these characteristics, an older lesbian might encounter a unique, compounded discrimination.
We must remember to that it is important for people to be recognised as diverse while not denying a commonality, for it is this commonality that unites people when celebrating Pride, or fighting for LGBT+ equality, especially during occasions like IDAHOBIT.
Recognising diversity within the LGBT+ community, it is also important to note that different LGBT+ groups will have different role models. Below are links to some of the role models identified for some of these groups by the University of Warwick Student Union LGBTUA+ Society.
Black and minority ethnic LGBT+ role models
Disabled LGBT+ role models
Women LGBT+ role models
Stonewall have also produced LGBT Voices, a collection of 25 stories from LGBT people who have lived through inequalities.
By acknowledging and valuing the diversity within the LGBT+ community, we can begin to appreciate and truly value the rich tapestry of humanity, and that the concept of an ‘other’ can be damaging to our society and to the individuals involved.
An Inclusive Assembly
As an inclusive organisation, the National Assembly for Wales is committed to challenging violence and discrimination and to promoting a culture of fairness, dignity and respect. We are proud to have been listed in Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index each year since 2009, rising to third place in 2016 Index. We have been named the Top Public Sector Employer in Wales for the last three years.
OUT-NAW, our award winning LGBT Workplace Equality Network, provide support for LGBT people across the organisation through peer support and mentoring and coaching. They also help us to promote LGBT equality and to consider LGBT equality in our work.
To find out more about working for the Assembly or to review our current vacancies please visit www.Assembly.Wales/jobs