Lewisham Council and Lewisham Police marked International Day Against Homophobia on 17 May with a number of activities and raising the rainbow flag outside the Town Hall.
One special event was organised by Lewisham Council’s Equalities Board and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBGT) Staff Forum to discuss the issue of homophobic bullying and harassment. Lucy Warwick, Senior Education Officer at Stonewall, facilitated a number of discussions around the Stonewall anti-bullying film, “FIT”.
Raising the rainbow flag over the Town Hall, Councillor Damien Egan, whose cabinet responsibility include equalities, said: “This year’s theme of the International Day Against Homophobia is The Same Sex Couple, so it’s time here in Britain we set an example by joining many other countries in ending the last great form of LGBT discrimination by introducing marriage equality for same sex couples.”
“While we remember how far LGBT rights have leapt forward in Britain, we mustn’t forget that millions of gay and lesbian people in the world don’t share the same experience.”
Joining Cllr Egan, Sergeant Mark McLellan, LGBGT for Lewisham Borough Police, said: “In Britain we are fortunate to have a more enlightened and inclusive society but this does not mean we should become complacent. There are still people within Britain and in many parts of the world that still long for inclusion and acceptance. We must strive to make sure all lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender people and all members of the community are treated with respect and dignity.”
Lucy Warwick, Senior Education Officer at Stonewall, said: “Lewisham Council will hopefully act as an inspiration to other local councils. By taking active steps to ensure that lesbian, gay and bisexual staff are supported and included in their workplace, and by being members of both Stonewall’s Diversity Champions and Education Champions programmes, the Council clearly recognises the positive impact tackling homophobic bullying in schools has on young people when they move into the world of work.”
Around 50 people attended the event from across the Council, the borough’s primary and secondary schools and partner organisations.
Lewisham Council and Lewisham Borough Police relaunched their hate crime reporting system last year, by adding even more places where people can report hate crimes. The borough now has 15 community organisations where hate crimes can be reported, anonymously if so wished, as well as via the Council and Police Community Safety teams.
For a full list of organisations and contact details go to www.lewisham.gov.uk/hatecrime
This Saturday, 21 May, Lewisham Police’s LGBT Liaison Officers will be at “Bar 286”, a gay venue in Lewisham. LGBT Liaison Officers will have a stall inside the nightclub to discuss local issues or concerns with customers. Staff from Lewisham Council will also be there and available to speak with the community, to offer advice and also raise the profile of reporting of homophobic and transphobic hate crime in the Lewisham area. Bar 286 is the only dedicated LGBT venue in Lewisham, attracting a large number of customers from the LGBT community throughout the year, and is key to the success of Lewisham’s support service.