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By Yik Ching-Wong Oct 29, 2014 1433 Words

Carrie Wong
Essay title: How attitudes towards LGBT community have changed in the UK over the past years? Introduction
LGBT is an abbreviation term, which stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. It is used in reference to the LGBT community since the late 1980s. According to Integrated Household Survey done by the Office for National Statistics, 1.5% of British are considered gay, lesbian or bisexual (Chalabi, 2013). Today, the LGBT community are accepted into British society and are protected by the Equal Opportunities Act. However, this has not always been the case, as historically they have lived outside of society and were severely discriminated against. In this essay, I am going to examine how attitudes of people have changed towards the LGBT community in the UK over the past years and what factors have contributed to these changes. Overview development of people’s attitudes towards LGBT over the years.LGBT Finance (2012) claims that in the mid-13th century, there were large-scale discrimination and persecution of gays with laws punishing homosexuality by death and gay was seen as a sinful deed to the rest in the society. In the middle ages, several laws against homosexuality appeared after Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire. According to LGBT Finance (2012), “consensual gay sex was criminalised by the Buggery Act of 1533, and was punishable by death until the passing of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861.” Duffy (1999) states that in the 90s, there was no specific law to protect homosexuals from prejudice. He goes on to mention that even the civil workers such as fire fighters were forced to keep quiet about their sexuality at that time. In my opinion, this is out of human nature and I feel that humanity should be something on everyone’s mindset. In this instance, everyone should protect each other’s rights. However, today it is noticeable that the changes in law and the battle of combating anti-gay attitudes have changed the prejudiced view of many. According to LGBT Finance (2012), “the modern gay rights movement only began in the late 1960s and has developed into today’s relatively broad acceptance in the UK and parts of Europe.” BBC Newsbeat (2014) states that there is a more open and fluid approach to sexuality nowadays. For example, the decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1967 and the introduction of civil partnerships in the new millennium. Research shows that attitudes towards same-sex relationships are more positive and there only 20% of the people involved in the study discouraged same-sex marriage (BBC Newsbeat, 2014). It is now illegal to discriminate against others based on their sexuality under the Equality Act 2006. According to LGBT (2012), a complaint was made to the local police in Cambridgeshire regarding a gay couple who was turned away from staying at a local B&B and the gay couple managed to sue the B&B owners for turning them away. This is an example of how the equality act protects the LGBT community. In the summer of 2010, the government published their work plan showing their commitment to develop more equal opportunities in all aspects of the society such as work, education, sports and families (HM Government, 2011). Reasons why attitudes have changed

Government legislation at schools
Firstly, there are several actions carried out by the government that changed people’s attitudes of the LGBT community at school. According to HM Government (2011), the early education of children plays a major part in forming their adulthood thinking. Thus, by starting to educate children at a young age in becoming more tolerant, it will reduce the prejudiced views and hate behaviours in society in the future. A statistic supported by HM Government (2011) found that 65% of LGB secondary school students experience homophobic bullying at school. Therefore, the government provided authoritative and sound guidance for teachers at school, allowing them to tackle bullying. For example, the issue of separate statutory guidance to enlarge head teachers’ powers to respond to students who bully other schoolmates. Moreover, to examine the standards for Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) that ensure a strong focus on controlling poor behaviour. Also, cooperating with schools and the Internet industry to stop cyber bullying. This new Equality Act 2010 made it a statutory duty for schools to enhance equality for the LGBT and people around them (HM Government, 2011). Government legislation at work

Secondly, the government have introduced laws to change people’s attitudes of the LGBT communities at work. Duffy (1999) argues that hundreds of years ago, there were no any laws to protect homosexuals from discrimination and bullying at work. He adds that, in July 1999, the government rejected to include in its Employment Relations Bill protection for lesbians and gays from any unpleasant and threatening behaviour in the workplace. According to HM Government (2011), 1 in 5 LGB people reported that they had been treated unfairly at work due to their sexual identity. Since the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003, there were clear gay legal rights to protect LGBT from discrimination at work. For instance, it is against the law to fire them due to their sexual orientation (LGBT Finance, 2012). HM Government (2011) points out that the government have introduced different actions to end discrimination at work. For example, the government planned to advice employers about how they can employ transgender employees and giving the necessary support to the transgender community that are applying for jobs. Government legislation in society in general

Thirdly, there are different actions carried out by the government that changed people’s attitudes towards the LGBT community in the society. According to LGBT Finance (2012), public attitudes towards LGBT community have changed a lot due to The Civil Partnerships Act 2004. It is an institution that is similar to but not actually the same as marriage. It states that, “gay couples entering into a civil partnership enjoy all the legal protections of marriage – the same tax advantages, the same inheritance rules.” Burrows (2014) notes that Andrew Wale and Neil Allard have been dating for seven years, waiting for new legislation to recognise them as married couple. They have become the first same-sex couple in Britain on 29th Mach 2014. Research by HM Government (2011) emphasises that LGBT community plays a part in many areas of the civil society. Therefore, the government came up with different acts to ensure these minorities are being protected and have more access to equality in society. For instance, work with the LGBT groups to provide them public health policies and strategies (HM Government, 2011). Media representation

Media also plays a huge part in changing people’s attitudes towards the LGBT community. Media is so powerful and dominant within our society because it actually penetrates everyday and everywhere in our lives. It can be everywhere, for instance, magazines, newspaper, television and the Internet. This often influences or even manipulates us to shape our opinions and thoughts consciously. Nowadays, the media has more representations of gay men and women, and many films contrast and portray homosexual couples are ‘normal’ in term of sin or sickness. Many people see the success of the Hollywood film “Brokeback Mountain” as a sign of changing and more positive attitudes towards homosexuality. The film portrays a homosexual relationship between two cowboys in the 1950s and attempts to give the audience the image that homophobic is an out-dated trend. Due to the revolution of media, celebrities these days dare to be bold in announcing their ‘same-sex’ partners. Arnold (2013) claims that Ellen DeGeneres does not hide her personal life with her wife, Portia de Rossi. She shares their life in front of audience on her talk show. She does not feel any shame or embarrassment. In addition, there are her fans from not only America, but the worldwide television fans, supporting her. I think this is a good example of a TV-icon who is not embarrassed about her partner. Evaluation & conclusion

Today, people are more educated and have access to different channels to fight for their own rights. Although people these days are more tolerant towards the LGBT community, there are still prejudiced views in the current society that need to be challenged. Legislation and media alone will not be able to fully change people’s mind set, therefore more work has to be done by cooperating with local communities to build better relationships between people. With people being more tolerant of one another’s behaviour in society, there will be less hate crime. As a result, there would be more peace and order in society.

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