FIVE key commitments demonstrating support for Redditch’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community have been backed by the borough council’s executive committee.
The issue was steered through by Councillor Joe Baker (Lab, Greenlands) in a comprehensive and thoroughly researched document born out of the realisation that there was no support available locally for the town’s LGBT population.
A sixth commitment, aimed at Worcestershire county council, will be pursued by Coun Baker through his county role.
“I never thought that, in my 30 years of campaigning for LGBT rights, that I would ever be in the position of putting forward these recommendations before a local authority,” said Coun Baker.
In a moving speech Coun Baker told of a mother’s grief after her teenage son, bullied for being gay, committed suicide, of a transsexual beaten up and hospitalised for being different of the loneliness suffered by a gay pensioner, all who would have benefited from a support service.
He said it was estimated that there were over 5,000 LGBT people in Redditch and that 55 per cent of all young LGBT had suffered homophobic or biphobic bullying.
He also urged members of the LGBT community to take advantage of the free health checks on offer in the borough.
“Gay and bisexual men are at the highest risk of developing Hepatitis B yet there are free jabs available for them,” said Coun Baker.
“I also want to promote cervical screening for women as many lesbian women are ignoring the invitation to be screened, assuming that they are safe, but they remain at risk.”
The six commitments are:
1)That the council should participate inthe Stonewall Workplace Equality Index next year.
2) Worcestershire County Council should take part in the Stonewall Education Equality Index.
3) That there should be a greater celebration of the positive history of the LGBT community during LGBT History Month.
4) A leaflet advertising support networks for the LGBT community in Redditch should be produced.
5) The specific mental health needs of the LGBT community should be addressed in equalities training.
6) Local partners should promote free Hepatitis B jabs for gay and bisexual men at Arrowside Sexual Health Clinic and cervical screening tests for lesbian and bisexual women.