The university will be flying the rainbow flag from the Trent Building to mark IDAHOBIT. The day was created in 2004 to raise global awareness of the violence and discrimination experienced by lesbian, gay, bi, transgender, intersex people and all other people with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities or expressions, and sex characteristics.
The date of 17 May was specifically chosen to commemorate the World Health Organisation’s decision in 1990 to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder.
As an LGBTQ+ Ally, I am proud that the University of Nottingham celebrates this day with the rest of the World as a way of raising awareness and showing solidarity with our LGBTQ+ communities.
The theme for IDAHOBIT this year is “Together: Resisting, Supporting, Healing!”, which aims to recognise the difficulties faced by the global LGBTQ+ community during the Covid-19 pandemic. Although Covid‑19 has had impact on the daily lives of everyone, we do know that individuals from marginalised or disadvantaged groups have been disproportionally affected during the last year.
Significantly, for the LGBTQ+ community, Covid-19 has forced many people back into the closet as they return to live with families or in communities where they cannot be their authentic selves. The fear that many of those people have faced was compounded by the continuing delay to ban conversion therapy in the UK. The progress towards the ban following the Queen’s Speech last week is very welcome. However, for the LGBTQ+ community, lockdown and social isolation has also increased loneliness, affecting mental health and wellbeing, as access to LGBTQ+ friends, spaces and services became restricted. In addition, the cancellation of most Pride events reduced global visibility for the LGBTQ+ community in those countries where Prides are held.
Prior to lockdown, there was a known heightened risk that bisexual women and trans women were more likely to experience domestic violence. Unfortunately, the Amnesty International Report 2020/21 indicates that there has been a ‘marked increase in gender-based and domestic violence; many women and LGBTI people were confined with abusers under lockdown’. Sadly, the likelihood is that many LGBTQ+ people will have experienced domestic violence during the last year. Please remember that no one should be in any relationship where they suffer any form of violence or intimidation. The University’s Domestic Violence Policy is inclusive of all relationships and friendships and I would encourage anyone who feels unsafe in their relationship to reach out for help and support. This policy has recently been revised and a new version of the policy will be published in the next few weeks.
The recent news that the cost of a gender recognition certificate has been reduced from £140 to £5 is a proactive step in trans rights, by removing one of the costly barriers to legally change your gender. However, the past year has been particularly difficult for the trans and gender diverse community as globally trans rights have been challenged or removed. In the UK consistent media debates along with legal challenges have caused the trans and gender diverse community additional stress during lockdown as hard-
fought rights are being continually targeted.
The Equality Act has been core in helping improve the lives and rights of those with protected characteristics, both at the university and in the UK. However, there is growing concern that it does not include people who are intersex. At the university we do recognise the challenges and issues faced by those who are intersex and will support colleagues and students with reasonable adjustments or who face discrimination.
I’m also pleased that in addition to adding your pronouns to your email signature, you can now include them in your profile photograph, by following this guide. Displaying your pronouns can be a small but significant gesture, particularly in MS Teams meetings to show support for an increase inclusion of colleagues who may be non-binary or wish to use more gender inclusive pronouns.
I am proud that as a LGBTQ+ Ally that we have continued and will continue supporting our LGBTQ+ colleagues and students. During the last year we have ensured that there is dedicated support for individual’s mental health and wellbeing and we also held a number of events, on‑line, to mark LGBT+ History Month in February 2021.
In addition, our fabulous LGBTQ+ Student and Staff Networks have also continued to support LGBTQ+ students and colleagues. In the last year, membership has increased in both Networks and the Staff Network are also launching a mentoring program for LGBTQ+ colleagues. This is in addition to specific activities included dedicated tutors and targeted mentoring programmes for LGBTQ+ students in academic schools and departments.
Although there have been many improvements for the LGBTQ+ community since 1990, there is still work to do to ensure greater inclusivity. IDAHOBIT is a day that forces us to stop and reflect on LGBTQ+ issues at both a global and local level. It is also a time where we can think about the barriers and challenges faced by our LGBTQ+ colleagues and friends and maybe start to have those conversations, and to check in with them about their lockdown experiences.
Professor Sarah Sharples
Pro-Vice Chancellor for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion and People.
14 May 2021
I am very grateful for the advice and collaboration from Kay Paterson-Bassett and Steven Macnamara in preparing this blog.