Celebrating LGBT+ History Month 2024


Author: Cllr Andy Snape, mayor of Flitwick Town Council

As co-chair of NALC's LGBT+ councillors national network, it's an honour to write on NALC’s blog to mark LBGT+ History Month 2024! The network was set up in 2021 to bring LGBTQ+ councillors together to share ideas and inspire change in our local communities. As a network, we’re working on some exciting initiatives to raise the profile of LGBTQ+ councillors and staff working in local councils and to provide resources and support for councils that would like to engage more in this important area. 

This year’s History Month theme is ‘Medicine – #UnderTheScope’, encouraging us to celebrate the contribution of LGBT+ people to the field of medicine and healthcare, historically and today. The history of the LGBT+ community’s experience of receiving healthcare is complicated, and LGBT+ people still face health inequalities even today. LGBT+ History Month is an opportunity to share some of these experiences and stories with the wider community. 

Now in our second year of our Proud Ampthill & Flitwick joint initiative between Flitwick Town Council and Ampthill Town Council, we’re hosting three fantastic events to bring our local community together:

  • Working with Central Bedfordshire Council Libraries, we’re co-hosting London’s award-winning LGBTQ+ literary salon, Polari, for one night only! Fresh from the British Library, author Paul Burston, Polari Prize-winning author Jon Ransom and poet in residence at the 197 bus stop in Penge, Barbara Brownskirt, will be sharing their work and celebrating LGBTQ+ literature.
  • We’re welcoming a representative from the Terrence Higgins Trust and mental health professionals to the town hall for our annual LGBT+ History Month Reception. Our speakers will share their personal stories with the local community and invited dignitaries.
  • Finally, our group is visiting our local secondary school to talk to over 1,400 students in assemblies about our stories, including having lunch with the student LGBTQ+ support group at the end of the week.

So, why is it important to celebrate LGBT+ History Month?

Being homosexual was decriminalised in the UK in 1967, recent enough to still be in the minds of many people living in our communities. Since then, it’s been a journey to get to where we are today. It’s important to remember how the LGBTQ+ community got rights in the first place. It’s also important to tell stories that were previously repressed and erased. LGBTQ+ identities have existed as long as humans have, but history books either barely mention, completely ignore or deliberately erase LGBTQ+ people’s existence and contributions. Section 28 ensured that an entire generation, now predominantly in their early 40s, grew up without the existence of LGBTQ+ role models in school or any appropriate support. 

It's also important to give thought to people living in the 65 countries that criminalise private, consensual, same-sex sexual activity. The majority of these countries explicitly criminalise sex between men; 41 countries criminalise private, consensual sexual activity between women. 14 countries criminalise the gender identity and/or expression of transgender people. Almost half of these countries are Commonwealth countries. Furthermore, 12 countries have jurisdictions in which the death penalty is imposed or at least a possibility, and 6 of these actively implement the death penalty in 2024, including Iran, Northern Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Yemen. 

In an increasingly polarised national political discourse, it’s an important opportunity to remember why kindness and tolerance are so important. It’s an important opportunity to recognise the importance of allyship for LGBTQ+ people and other marginalised groups, including standing up against discriminatory remarks or actions, advocating for inclusive policies, and supporting organisations and initiatives that benefit everyone in our communities.  

As the closest level of local government to our communities, local councils have an important part to play in championing equal rights. Your council is perfectly placed to promote inclusivity and community cohesion. Raising awareness about LGBTQ+ issues should be part of this message. I recognise that it can be a brave move for a local council, especially in a rural community, to support what can be seen as a contentious issue. This LGBT+ History Month, I challenge you to reflect on how your parish, town or community council operates and ensure that you represent and serve everyone in your community. 

Do you have any advice for any local council considering a similar project?

I think it’s worth covering this important question again because it’s important to share our learnings with other local councils which might be thinking about working in this space:

  • Not everything has to be big – visibility and advocacy are important. Consider starting with small steps, beginning with flying the Progress Pride flag for Pride Month each June. Show your local LGBTQ+ community they are welcome in your town or village.
  • Many local councils understandably won’t have the skills or experience to engage in this important area. We partnered with a local community group to help us research and take our first steps; this approach worked well for us. 
  • Our group has grown over the past few months; new people have brought new skills and experience, allowing us to try different things.
  • Partnering with neighbouring local councils and your principal authority could be a great way for smaller communities to contribute to this important work, pooling resources and sharing the cost. 

How can you get involved in the NALC's LGBT+ councillors national network?

The network meets quarterly, with additional meetings focusing on the projects and events in the pipeline. If you want to join the network, please complete this form. For updates on projects and events in the works and more information on the network, please contact the co-chairs:  and .

The following blog post is for informational purposes only and should not be considered professional or legal advice. The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the National Association of Local Councils. Any links to external sources included in this blog post are provided for convenience and do not constitute endorsement or approval of those websites' content, products, services, or policies. Therefore, readers should use discretion and judgment when applying the information to their circumstances. Finally, this blog post may be updated or revised without notice.

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