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Remembering the Stonewall Riots

Published: 28 June 2022 Tags: Stonewall By Jonny Carr

This year marks the 53rd anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, a moment of resistance by LGBT people against discrimination, police harassment and exploitation. In the early hours of the morning on 28 June 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn in New York City. This sparked six days of rioting - a breaking point after years of tensions.

After the Stonewall Riots, many people were inspired to take action as LGBT rights entered the national spotlight. The Christopher Street Liberation Day march was organised on Saturday 28 June 1970 on the anniversary of the riots. Two years later, on 1 July 1972, the London Gay Liberation Front organised the first UK gay pride march in London. Today we see annual Pride celebrations in many cities and countries around the world.

Although the Stonewall Riots cannot be said to have initiated the gay rights movement, it did serve as an important catalyst for a new generation of political activism. A new wave of organisations were formed, such as the Gay Liberation Front and the Gay Activists Alliance, in the wake of the riots to protest again the continued oppression of LGBT people. Similar movements were quickly established in many countries including the UK, France, Germany, Canada, Holland, Australia and New Zealand.

The global LGBT community still faces significant problems today. In many South Asian and Middle Eastern countries, homosexuality is illegal and in some countries punishable by death. It is important to remember that despite significant developments in equality legislation here in the UK, homophobia, biphobia and transphobia still exist and many LGBT people are a long way from the point of where they can live out their lives as fully equal.

In recent months in the UK we have seen violent attacks on LGBT people in the streets, protests outside of primary schools about whether it is appropriate for children to learn about the existence of LGBT people, and a continuing toxic and divisive debate on trans rights.

True equality will not be possible until all members of LGBT communities feel welcome, heard and represented. Now more than ever we need to stand together as a community to protect and extend LGBT rights, and challenge prejudice and discrimination wherever it exists.

Together we can achieve a fair and equal future where all lesbian, gay, bi and trans people can achieve their full potential.