Hundreds protest in St Peter’s Square over transgender exclusion from conversion therapy ban
Conversion therapy attempts to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity and is banned in several countries.
Conversion therapy is a repulsive practice which, the Government’s own research shows, causes harm to LGBT+ people. This is supported by NHS England and other major bodies in the UK who have all warned that all forms of ‘conversion therapy’ are “unethical and potentially harmful”.
However, the government plans to go ahead with a ban on conversion therapy for gay people but not in relation to those identifying as transgender.
It has said this was to ensure that the law did “not interfere in the work of legitimate therapists providing appropriate support for people with gender dysphoria who may be considering taking life-changing medication”.
But that has led campaigners to accuse the government of breaking promises. Hundreds gathered in Manchester’s St Peter’s Square.
Boris Johnson set out his thinking on the issue a few days ago, saying: “We will have a ban on gay conversion therapy, which to me is utterly abhorrent. But there are complexities and sensitivities when you move from the area of sexuality to the question of gender.”
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has said that “conversion therapy in all forms should be banned” and that the government must “stick to its promises”.
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How Liverpool became the first UK city to recognise its ‘Gay Quarter’
Liverpool’s ‘Gay Quarter’ is a prime destination for not only the LGBT+ community but for tourists from all over the world and it’s easy to see why.
Week in and week out, thousands of people from all over Liverpool and beyond descend on the streets and back alleys in and around Stanley Street in the city centre to drink, dance and party the night away. It has been a haven for the LGBT+ community, their friends, families and allies for decades now.
But how did Liverpool’s iconic gay quarter become the main focal point for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community which it is known as today?
Members of Liverpool’s gay community couldn’t always be found being unapologetically themselves along Stanley Street. For a long time, their presence was felt more towards the centre of the city, however, with the building of the new St John’s Shopping Centre and subsequent demolition of the original Queen Square, it meant the gay community was forced to find a new home elsewhere. With the opening of the gay bar, Paco’s in the 1970’s, alongside The Lisbon’s already established gay following, it wasn’t long before they found a place they could call their second home in Stanley Street.
In 2004, Richie Wright, a 41-year-old freelance scene reporter, suggested to the City Council that they make a gay tourism guide, primarily based on the community in Stanley Street, in the run up to Liverpool’s European Capital of Culture year.
“I felt it was important to put the scene on the map and promote it to the wider world. I was regularly out and about and in contact with the venues and there was a feeling in the air that they wanted a more prominent role in Liverpool’s very special year.”
Richie, who is from North Liverpool, said the idea was loved and was invited for an interview with Lesley Delves and Keith Blundell, two tourism officers in charge of promotional material that was being distributed to elevate the city. Richie added: “2500 copies of the first ever gay tourism guide were printed in August 2004 and they were distributed across the North West and beyond. This was the first time the City Council acknowledged the gay quarter in an official document.”
“It was important to me because it put the bars and clubs on the map. It welcomed tourists to a dozen venues in the gay quarter. There were also listings for other LGBT frequented bars, clubs, nights and restaurants elsewhere in the city. For me, the gay tourism guide was a big turning point for the city. It was a moment when the City Council publicly recognised that there was a gay quarter in place and developing.”
Seven years later, Liverpool recognised its gay quarter once again and on 12 August 2011, it became the first city in the UK to do so officially. Making up the quarter was Stanley Street, Cumberland Street, Temple Lane, Eberle Street and Temple Street, which were all revamped with symbolic new street signs, each incorporating a rainbow arch.
The first sign was unveiled outside the Lisbon pub found on Stanley Street by the then Deputy Lord Mayor, Councillor Sharon Sullivan, in a ceremony which was attended by representatives of the LGBT+ community, local businesses, residents and the family of gay teenager Michael Causer who was killed in 2009.
The scene continued to thrive throughout the years but it was decided it would need to be refreshed up a decade later after becoming the UK’s first formally recognised LGBT+ area. The Stanley Street Quarter then rebranded as the Pride Quarter, with support from LCR Pride Foundation and Marketing Liverpool.
The rebranding was intended to unite the LGBT+ area while also cementing the city’s position as ‘the most LGBT+ friendly in the UK’ and mitigate the impact of Covid-19 restrictions on the various venues.
As a result of Covid-19, Pride 2020 was celebrated a little differently with the quarter, which incorporates a large number of venues located in and around Victoria Street, Dale Street and Tithebarn Street, coming together under its new banner to throw an indoor festival.
The 13 LGBT+ venues located in the quarter follow in the footsteps of similar successful national initiatives to promote inclusion, collaboration and unite LGBT+ venues, such as Leeds ‘Freedom Quarter’ or Manchester’s ‘Gay Village’. There is no doubt that Liverpool’s Pride Quarter has established itself as a leading destination for thousands of locals and tourists from far and wide.