On National Coming Out Day, the National LGBT Federation (NXF) – publishers of GCN – is calling for renewed whole-of-society efforts to empower LGBTQ+ people everywhere to live open and authentic lives free from discrimination.
We know from both the research and the direct lived experiences of LGBTQ+ people that it is not just right and proper in itself to proactively foster a climate where LGBTQ+ people are empowered to be themselves but many other benefits also flow from such efforts.
In the workplace, far too many LGBTQ+ staff still feel they need to conceal who they are for fear of both direct and indirect repercussions. In the teaching profession, for example, more than 4 in 5 LGBTQ+ teachers are in the closet – a sobering figure from the INTO (Irish National Teachers Organisation) that should serve to focus minds in the Ireland of 2022.
Yet the research is crystal clear – organisations that encourage inclusive practices and take very real and visible steps to embed such a culture are happier, more productive and cohesive workplaces. Those progressive, forward-thinking workplaces go beyond their legal requirements in terms of equality legislation and the ‘Public Sector Duty’ and seek to be equality and diversity champions. This can be achieved through the likes of regular equality training, support for LGBTQ+ Staff Networks and actively participating in Pride celebrations and similar LGBTQ+-themed events.
NXF Chair Gavin Hennessy stated: “National Coming Out Day is both an opportunity to laud the progress towards greater LGBTQ+ openness and visibility but also serves as a stark reminder of the work still required against the backdrop of nearly 70 countries that continue to criminalise the existence of LGBTQ+ people, while many more refuse to extend full equality to our rainbow communities. There is no room for complacency – here in Ireland we must continue moving in the right direction on these issues and resist illiberal efforts seen in far too many other countries to attack and roll back our gains, often under the guise of ‘populism’.”
Adam Long, Advocacy & Policy NXF, added: “We know the extraordinary power of LGBTQ+ visibility both individually and collectively. The hugely successful marriage equality referendum is a testament to how positive, progressive social change can be achieved when LGBTQ+ citizens are empowered to be open and visible about their lives. It is right and appropriate then that we celebrate something so basic yet profound as LGBTQ+ people being empowered to live our lives proudly and authentically.
“However, while we have made real progress in that regard, a surge in hate crime attacks and the proliferation of online hate and extremism serve as stark reminders of the barriers that continue to exist preventing far too many members of our community from being open about their identities. Whether it is the passage of robust and effective hate crime legislation, or the pressing need to hold social media platforms more accountable for hateful and abusive content – a point alluded to by President Higgins in a speech just today – much more needs to be done to create a social, political and cultural climate that truly enables LGBTQ+ people to live their truth.”
We couldn't agree more with @PresidentIRL Higgins.
There must be far greater accountability & regulation for social media companies and the proliferation of hate, extremism and disinformation on their platforms. @GCNmag @PACE_Equality @IrishRepCoE #COE @cathmartingreen https://t.co/ubpvOQXmx0
— NXF (@nxfie) October 11, 2022
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