“We want to improve equality and inclusion for all LGBTQ+ people, so as a community we feel safe to be ourselves free from fear, discrimination and hate.”
Those were the words of the Deputy Minister for Social Partnership, Hannah Blythyn, who – alongside the Leader of Plaid Cymru, Adam Price – today (Tuesday, February 7) set out exactly how the Welsh Government will make a real difference to the lives, prospects, and outcomes for all LGBTQ+ people.
Launching the LGBTQ+ Action Plan, which underlines Wales’ intention to advance LGBTQ+ equality and inclusion, the Deputy Minister said it was the first-time existing commitments had been brought together to set bold but realistic goals towards a society where “inclusion and celebration of LGBTQ+ people is rooted at its centre”.
The Deputy Minister said:
“We have come a long way in the past few decades, but we cannot be complacent. Progress can and never should be taken for granted. LGBTQ+ communities remain under attack, with our hard-fought-for rights at risk of being rolled back around the world, including here in the UK.
“I’m proud that here in Wales LGBTQ+ rights are embedded in the Welsh Government’s Programme for Government commitments and the LGBTQ+ Action Plan is a commitment in the Co-operation Agreement with Plaid Cymru.
“The plan is ambitious but with hope at its heart. We are absolutely committed to meaningful change for LGBTQ+ communities, creating a society and country where LGBTQ+ people are safe to live and love authentically, openly and freely as ourselves.”
The Action Plan includes a wide range of policy-specific actions from improving safety, education, housing, health and social care, to promoting community cohesion and more.
In particular, it shows a clear commitment to defending and promoting the rights and dignity of trans and non-binary people.
Leader of Plaid Cymru Adam Price MS said:
“This plan shows how we are working together to make a more just, fairer, tolerant Wales. Politics is about making a difference and improving the lives of the people you serve.
“This means delivering change for everyone in society and we are proud to be working with the Welsh Government on our shared ambition for Wales to be the most LGBTQ+ friendly nation in Europe. This plan shows our concrete commitment to delivering that.
“The fact that this plan has been jointly developed by parties whose Members make up two thirds of our national parliament provides a strong basis on which to bring the Plan’s commitments to life as practical actions on the ground in our communities.
“Tackling all forms of injustice is essential and together we can create a fairer society, promoting the rights of everyone in the LGBTQ+ community.”
To mark the publication of the Plan, the two politicians – who are open members of the LGBTQ+ community themselves – visited the Pride & Protest exhibition at St Fagans National Museum of History, which includes protest banners and LGBTQ+ campaign badges from Amgueddfa Cymru’s collection of objects from Pride events across Wales.
The Deputy Minister added:
“Welsh LGBTQ+ culture and heritage in Wales has contributed to our legacy and experiences as a nation – for too long our history has been hidden and these stories need to be told.
“The showcasing of LGBTQ+ stories in history and heritage is getting better. This exhibition is an excellent example, and the plan aims to build on this.
“Putting the actions into practice, across culture, education, health and more, will play a significant part in achieving our ambition of being the most LGBTQ+ friendly nation in Europe.”
The Welsh Government has worked with a wide range of LGBTQ+ communities and organisations to help develop the LGBTQ+ Action Plan, and it will act as the basis for developing future policy along with partners.
Lisa Power is a lifelong LGBTQ+ activist who co-founded Stonewall and contributed to the development of the LGBTQ+ Action Plan. Lisa said:
“In my view, Wales is a shining beacon in this area.
“When many people look at LGBTQ+ issues, they only see the LGBTQ-ness of the people and they don’t recognise that we are citizens alongside everyone else.
“This Action Plan is clear on what it is going to do and how. It recognises that being LGBTQ+ is part of a more complex and often intersectional identity and that all kinds of matters affect us across our life.
“Through the work I do internationally, I increasingly get comments from people who recognise Wales as a country trying to protect all of its citizens – and that absolutely includes LGBTQ+ citizens.”
Davinia Green, Director of Stonewall Cymru said:
“I welcome the LGBTQ+ Action Plan for Wales. It is a clear and positive commitment, particularly important when hard-won LGBTQ+ rights are being challenged. This is an important part of the journey to creating LGBTQ+ inclusive society here in Wales, but not the end conclusion. We should not become complacent.
“If Wales is to become the leading nation in Europe on LGBTQ+ rights, tackling increasing hate crime, supporting inclusive RSE curriculum and removing healthcare barriers will be particularly important.”
Ambassador for organisations including Pride Cymru and LGBT+ Sport Cymru, sports reporter and presenter, Beth Fisher said:
“Growing up as a gay woman in Wales wasn’t always easy, and it was not always easy to be visible. This is why I am so grateful that the Welsh Government have put this LGBTQ+ Action Plan forward – to make Wales an easier place to live in for those who are within that community, to be their authentic selves.
“I hope that the Action Plan will ensure future generations are safer and able to express themselves how they wish.”