The UK government LGBT Action Plan: Discourses of progress, enduring stasis, and LGBTQI+ lives ‘getting better’

Authors: Matson Lawrence, Yvette Taylor,
Issue: 2019
Themes: ,
Link to Publication (External Site)

This paper critiques the ‘unprecedented progress’ for LGBTQI+ rights and realities presented in the UK Government’s LGBT Action Plan (2018). It also examines key speeches from politicians to launch the Plan and finds that claims of lives getting better do not always hold up to scrutiny nor match the lived experiences of individuals.

The analysis was undertaken as part of a literature review and policy mapping work for the Norface-funded project Comparing Intersectional Life Course Inequalities amongst LGBTQI+ Citizens in Four European Countries.

The researchers examined a range of documents and sources linked to the data collection for the National LGBT Survey, which was used as the basis for the Plan. This included policy papers and news articles in the media. They compared and contrasted the ‘political’ perspective of progress with a ‘queer’ perspective.

Whilst acknowledging that the Plan could be viewed as significant commitment towards LGBTQI+ equalities, the research finds aspects of it problematic. These include:

  • The positioning of the UK as a progressive nation and world leader/one of the best countries in Europe for LGBT rights
  • The use of the acronym LGBT in ‘new times
  • The absence of certain voices (older/other) from discussions and decision making
  • The challenge of addressing inequalities in the context of the short-term policymaking cycle
  • The implicit reproduction of stereotypes
  • A dismissive approach to the homophobia associated with Section 28 legislation of the late eighties

They conclude that the Plan represents a missed opportunity to cohesively address inequalities across and beyond the UK and point to the potential destabilising of the legislative basis for sexual and trans/gender rights by the exit of the UK from the European Union.