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Wales bidding to become ‘most LGBTQ-friendly nation in Europe’

The Welsh government has launched a consultation on inequality and discrimination faced by the community.

By Alastair James

Words: Alastair James; pictures: Pexels, Ketut Subiyanto

The Welsh Government has launched a consultation on its LGBT Action Plan, which aims to make Wales “the most LGBTQ+ friendly nation” and tackle inequalities and discrimination faced by the community.

It’s the first report of its kind in Wales to focus specifically on the needs of the LGBTQ community, and the plan has been formed from recommendations made by an expert panel formed in January 2021.

The consultation launched on Thursday (29 July) is set to last for 12 weeks until 22 October. A final plan will then be published in early 2022.

“Equality is for everyone”

In a statement calling for people to take part in the consultation, the Welsh Government’s Deputy Minister for Social Partnership, Hannah Blythyn, who is gay, said: “We want to make sure that equality is for everyone and no-one is left behind here in Wales, so I’m really pleased to publish the cross-government LGBTQ+ Action Plan today. 

“Today, I want to reaffirm our key commitments; seeking the devolution of powers relating to the Gender Recognition Act, to use all available powers to ban all aspects of LGBTQ+ conversion therapy and to support Prides across Wales by sponsoring Pride Cymru, establishing a Wales-wide Pride Fund and appointing a Wales-wide Coordinator.

“Our ambition is to tackle the long-term structural inequalities that still exist, to challenge discrimination and to create a country without prejudice.”

People are being encouraged to get in touch with their thoughts on the draft plan, with 10 questions to answer as well as being able to send in additional responses. The questions range from whether people think the plan will increase equality for LGBTQ people, to the impact of the plan on the Welsh language.

Following the recommendations made by the expert panel, the plan is split into six sections: Human Rights and Recognition; Ensuring LGBTQ+ People’s Safety; Home and Communities; Improving Health Outcomes; Education; Workplace.

There are 58 actions that the plan wants to achieve including: strengthening equality for trans and non-binary people, banning conversion therapy, improving engagement between communities and the police, and improve access to healthcare.

“I was traumatised”

Speaking to the BBC, 26-year-old Callum Lea, detailed one homophobic attack earlier this year.

He says: “There was a group of lads that started to verbally assault me and call me every homophobic word under the sun,” before pushing him to the ground and kicking him repeatedly.

“I was left with cuts, bruises. I had a mild concussion; whiplash and I was traumatised.”

He adds that he was embarrassed by the incident and would rather walk home alone than with friends or family to avoid further embarrassment.

The Chair of the LGBTQ+ Independent Expert Group which provided the recommendations which formed the basis of the draft plan, Lu Thomas, says the consultation proves the Welsh Government is “committed to achieving real progress in our society.”

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