As part of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) History Month, Alex Morris, a Driving Examiner at the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency, tells us about his LGBT hero.
I enjoy my work as a Driving Examiner and I’m a proud member of Social Network Group (SNG) Pride. As a gay man living in today’s society, I have little experience with the type of prejudice or bullying that took place or that was felt by my peers.
I feel passionately about the struggles and battles that were experienced in the last 50 years since 1967, when The Sexual Offences Act decriminalised homosexual acts between two men over 21 years of age in private in England and Wales. This was 10 years after the report of the Department Committee on Homosexual Offences and Prostitution (better known as the Wolfenden report, after Lord Wolfenden) was published. The report advised the British government that homosexuality shouldn’t be illegal.
My LGBT hero is someone who’s been an activist for LGBT rights for many years and has spoken on many subjects that have bettered today’s society. My LGBT hero is Sir Ian Mckellen, a patron of LGBT month, which in the UK occurs in February to coincide with a major celebration of the 2003 abolition of section 28.
Sir Ian is a co-founding member of Stonewall with Lisa Power MBE and Michael Cashman CBE. Stonewall was formed in 1989 by political activists and others lobbying against section 28 of the Local Government Act. Section 28 proposed prohibiting local authorities from promoting homosexuality.
Sir Ian became active in fighting this proposed law and this prompted him to ‘come out’ live on BBC radio in an interview in 1988 at the age of 49.
Sir Ian said:
“In the 50s and 60s the life of a gay man was a secret. Homosexuality was illegal so you didn’t draw attention to yourself, but coming out is the best thing I ever did and I’ve never met a gay person who didn’t think the same”.
Today there are laws and rights that help provide security for LGBT people, but I always think about the fight that people like Sir Ian and others have had to endure in order to have the freedom that we have and that society as a whole now experiences.
This, amongst other reasons, is why I’ve declared my sexuality with DVSA to help reflect the LGBT declaration rates within the workforce.
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