In honor of Pride, we wanted to feature some of the important work that Springer Nature's employee network, SN Pride, continues to do to support the LGBTQ+ community.
“Why do you even need Pride anymore? Isn’t it just one big party these days?” How many times has this question been asked, not only from people outside the LGBTQ+ community – whether in genuine curiosity or hostility – but also from within; after all, it’s been over 50 years since the birth of the modern LGBTQ+ civil rights movement and we have made remarkable progress. So why do we still need Pride when things appear to be going pretty well for so many people? Here, SN Pride explores what Pride means to them, today.
We asked some members of our global SN Pride chapters what Pride means to them:
“As long as there are hate-crimes and discrimination somewhere in the world against members of the LGBTQ+ community, it is important to stay loud, proud and visible as a global community. The global visibility of the community is fueling movements and courage in countries where reformation is required.” -Aldeena Raju and Sina Sommer (India)
“Pride is still important to reminder people that until now, we don´t have yet an inclusive and respectful environment: as an example, in my country – Brazil, 175 transgender people were killed in 2020, a 41% increase on 2019” -Anderson Guia (Brazil)
Is Pride a protest or a celebration? It's both. Is Pride a single event on the calendar or the day-to-day act of authentically living your life? It's both. In a time of upheaval in which the LGBTQ+ community is both more visible than ever but also subject to mounting political and media attacks, Pride is not a destination nor a journey. It's both. -Ross Cloney (London)
Today, we want to take a look back at the progress that’s been made. This blog predominantly uses examples from the UK and US, as currently that’s where our two most-established SN Pride chapters are based, but it’s important for us to remember that in many countries the reality today is very different and we continue to stand with our community globally.
In the 1960s, we could be fired from our jobs if it was discovered that we weren’t cis-gendered and straight; the idea of being open about who you were, of being able to marry who you loved, of having a family, was considered unacceptable. Being homosexual or transgender was considered a mental illness. In the UK, ‘homosexual acts’ were still illegal until the 1967 Sexual Offences Act and even then, it did not extend to the Armed Forces, or Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man. In the US, consensual sexual relations between same-sex couples were first decriminalised in Illinois in 1962 but only in 2003 the last remaining discriminatory laws were struck down by the US Supreme Court.
In the 1980s, tabloids would use openly homophobic and transphobic language and the public health crisis that would become the HIV/AIDS epidemic was considered to be ‘a gay plague’ that could be mocked. In the UK, Section 28, legislation introduced in 1988 that banned the "promotion" of homosexuality by local authorities and in Britain's schools, chilled and stifled even the discussion of queer matters in the UK.
It wasn’t until the late 1990s that laws began to be reformed and equality began to be established. Since 2000, queer people have gained the rights to marry the person they love, adopt and be protected from legal discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity in the USA and Western Europe.
Major achievements in legal equality and social acceptance have also happened across the world. In 2019, Botswana decriminalised homosexuality, the highest court in Ecuador ruled in favour of same-sex marriage and Parliament has legalised same-sex unions in Taiwan.
Despite this progress, there is still work to do. In the UK alone, elected politicians can say that they believe one day there will be a ‘cure’ for homosexuality, protests have taken place outside schools trying to teach children that queer families are a normal part of society and trans people still face discrimination in many areas. In the US, there are calls for ‘Straight Pride’ that completely fail to recognise the importance and need for the Pride movement.
Governments are also pulling back from LGBTQ+ rights. There are still huge swathes of the world where being queer is not only discriminated against, but is also illegal. Even in countries where there has been huge progress, there is still more to be done. For example, in 2018, all consensual sex among adults, including homosexual sex was decriminalised in India, however the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019 has been rejected by the trans community and activists because of several clauses that fail to uphold fundamental rights of transgender persons. We are freer to be who we are than ever before, but there is still so much work to do to support our community worldwide.
We need Pride because we need to remember all the progress that has been made and how very different things were less than one lifetime ago. We need Pride because there are still many things we have yet to achieve. We need Pride because the progress we have made is hard won but fragile, and the rights and security afforded to the LGBTQ+ community in many places are by no means guaranteed if we don’t continue to defend them. Every member of the LGBTQ+ community deserves to be able to hold their head up and not be ashamed of who they are.
That’s why we stay proud.
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