Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan pens a letter to the LGBT+ people of the capitol in the lead up to London Pride.
IN THE letter published exclusively in the July issue of Gay Times the Mayor concedes that even in London, the fight for LGBT+ equality is far from over. He also talks how that other cities around the world should look to the work that London is doing to become more inclusive.
He writes in Gay Times: “London is the greatest city in the world and I’m incredibly proud to live in a city that celebrates its diversity. Here in London you can love whoever you want to love, dress however you want to dress, and be whoever you want to be. We are home to every nationality, ethnicity and walk of life, and we must continue to shout about it.
“Pride in London is a wonderful example of our city at its best. It’s a time when we come together as one to celebrate the contribution of the LGBT+ community in our capital and show that we are one of the most LGBT+ friendly places on earth.
“Thirty years on from the dark days of Section 28 being introduced in the UK, I want LGBT+ people in oppressive environments around the world to know we stand with them and we march for them too.
“Ahead of this year’s festival, I’ve been reflecting on the sort of city London would be without the contribution of the LGBT+ communities. Ours would be a diminished capital. Less accepting, less interesting, less colourful and far less at ease with itself.
“The LGBT+ communities have played a unique role in shaping culture, broadening public horizons and affirming individual freedom.
“The struggle for LGBT+ equality has, in many ways, helped liberate us all and enhance our understanding of diversity.
“For too long we’ve been presented with a limited picture of history. LGBT+ figures, where they were referenced, found themselves either demonised for, or defined by, their sexuality. Individual achievements risked being undermined by prejudice and pioneers found their sexual identities erased to appease a hostile public.
“I’m glad to say that today in London things are different and we celebrate LGBT+ contributions in all aspects of society. Despite London being an emblem of diversity and progress, I know there is still work to be done.
“As in the rest of the UK, LGBT+ young people are disproportionately likely to face homelessness, experience depression and anxiety and suffer abuse and harassment. This is simply not good enough. Who you are and where you’re from should have no bearing on what you can achieve.
“LGBT+ Londoners deserve complete equality, but sadly I still hear of couples feeling uncomfortable expressing themselves in public and being discriminated against for doing so.
“The safety, liberty and representation of LGBT+ people across our city is hugely important to me. That’s why we take a zero-tolerance approach to hate crime in all forms. There is absolutely no place for homophobic, biphobic and transphobic abuse in our city and I will continue to work with the Met and anti-hate organisations to stamp it out.
“At a time when our society can feel increasingly divided, Pride shines as a beacon for love. And in an age where people can be less vocal about what they are for, rather than what they are against, Pride provides a vital opportunity for unity and solidarity.
“I’ve been touched by stories of young people who, having wrestled privately with their sexuality or gender identity, felt not only visible but valued by attending Pride.
“So, as we prepare to march for love, acceptance and in solidarity, I want to thank the LGBT+ community for continuing to welcome me with open arms.
“As we enjoy the joy and laughter of Pride, let’s celebrate how far we’ve come as a society and look forward to an even brighter future. Pride shows that London welcomes everyone, regardless of age, race, religion, disability, gender or sexuality. So just come as you are, London is open.”