Yvette Cooper: Pride is a time for celebration and a call to action to tackle homophobia in schools

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary and Shadow Minister for Equalities, Yvette Cooper, writes exclusively for PinkNews.co.uk about her pride that gay couples will soon be able to marry but argues that more needs to be done to tackle homophobia in schools.

Nothing better captures the triumph of celebration over discrimination, and the spirit of Pride, than the London Gay Men’s Chorus lobby of the House of Lords last month.

In stark contrast to the anger and hostility of some of the Parliamentary debates or the opponent’s protests, this was a joyous, loud and proud serenade for the Peers of the realm before the vote. And as we all joined in belting out “Get me to the church on time” it also seemed to me to reflect the long standing ethos and purpose of Pride too.

So it is wonderful that this year’s Pride festival in London will also be a celebration of Love and marriage equality. Every loving couple should have the chance to enjoy their wedding, make that long term commitment and grow old and grumpy together under the banner of marriage, whatever their gender or sexuality.

But making progress on legislation isn’t enough for LGBT equality. We’ve come a long way with legislation Labour backed over the last 20 years – from ending Section 28 to tackling discrimination in goods and services. But homophobia and discrimination can still have devastating effects – particularly on young lives – and we need to do more to tackle attitudes and prejudice.

Stonewall’s figures show that one in every sixteen gay or bisexual young men attempts to take their own life. Homophobic bullying is still a serious problem in schools and the workplace. We still have to do more to deliver in practice the equality we fought for in the law.

That’s why I think schools should do more to talk to young people about equal respect and healthy relationships – building on the impressive work of Schools Out which is all about celebrating young people’s identity whatever their sexuality.

So yes, as always Pride is a celebration as well as a call for action for equality. And as part of that loud proud celebration, I’m counting on there being more singing and more serenading too. Look forward to seeing you there.

Yvette Cooper is the Shadow Home Secretary and Shadow Minister for Equalities
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