Stonewall chairwoman Jan Gooding: The world is ‘stepping’ backwards when it comes to gay rights

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The new Chair of Stonewall says the world is “stepping” backwards when it comes to gay rights, describing the situation as “awful”.

Jan Gooding was appointed chair of trustees of Britain’s largest gay rights charity, succeeding Jacqueline Davies, earlier this week.

She told The Guardian: “There are 80 countries in the world where being gay is illegal. As we progress here, there’s an awful stepping back going on elsewhere.”

Ms Gooding says she aims to reach a day when details of anyone’s sexuality will be not worth discussing, adding: “I don’t want it to be an issue. It is none of anyone’s business, except where I am made to feel I can’t talk about whom I love. Then others have made it an issue for me.”

The 54-year-old group brand director of insurance firm Aviva also spoke about the challenges of being gay in the City.

“I do notice myself hesitating to say I am gay at certain occasions in the City. If I’m in a room that is very male, already as a woman I feel uncomfortable, but it is at least clear that I am a woman.”

She added: “I get additionally discomforted in those circumstances about being a lesbian. I still do hesitate, though I am getting braver.

“Now being Chair of Stonewall, it means I simply cannot allow myself not to get it out there.”

“I have to do everything I can to make [being gay or lesbian] unremarkable, but to do that I have to be as visible as I can.”