The UK is often seen as a free country in almost all aspects which seems to be backed up by its position on the World Press Freedom Index 2014. At this time the UK was sat at 33rd which is 13 places in front of the US. This is also evidenced by the strides being made in LGBT rights, even though there are still, of course, some improvements that can be made.
Even though each law to bring equality may come about at a different time in each of the different constituent countries of the UK, most of these equality laws are consistent across all 4 of the countries. One of the changes in law and rights which was heavily featured in media was of course the right to same-sex marriage, building on the civil partnership laws that have existed since 2004. This builds on it by bringing the rights of same-sex partners in line with that of opposite-sex marriages. Including inheritance tax, which allows inheritance to be passed along tax free, after they split maintenance must be paid, and also in regards to immigration helping appeals. All of these rights were transferred to civil partnerships as well once this was passed.
There was controversy but the bill was comfortably passed with 2/3 of those voting in favour of it. Although this is one of the cases in which discrimination is still legally allowed by religious venues. These places are not legally required to offer same-sex marriage while also offering opposite-sex marriages and for religious locations they can choose as to whether they allow this to happen or not. And while this marriage has been legal across England, Wales, and Scotland since March 2014 it is still illegal in Northern Ireland despite the bill just succeeding in achieving a majority recently. Unfortunately it was blocked as it did not achieve a cross community majority meaning the lack of the DUP party voting ‘yes’ prevented this proposal from going through. However how close this came to passing can only be a good sign as it shows how much closer Northern Ireland is to coming level with the rest of the UK on this right. It is in other aspects of LGBT life that Northern Ireland seems to be lagging behind as well, often passing laws numerous years after or not at all while the rest of the UK had put them into place. This is also the same relating to marriages and transgender people as in Northern Ireland as once someone changes their gender they have to break up their marriage as after this it would constitute a same-sex marriage which is of course illegal there.
The potential to start a family has fully equal rights in the sense that all couples regardless of sexuality are able to adopt, access IVF, surrogacy, and have same-sex couples legally recognised on birth certificates. This is a vital part of bringing equality in regards to sexuality, this allows there to be same-sex couples as part of their own family rather than just standalone. This also allows there to be children with same-sex parents, aiding in normalising it to younger children, in turn helping to improve attitudes towards different sexualities later in life.
One more thing that is able to just completely ignore the anti-discrimination laws is hateful speech against the LGBT community in Scotland and Northern Ireland. So while nobody can legally deny you services they can walk down the street being extremely insulting and radical to someone or about someone’s sexuality with no protection for it unless the speech overlaps with another law which it may not always. The one place in the UK that protects transgender people against this hateful language is Wales while the other 3 constituencies of the UK have no laws against this potentially causing a very damaging and harmful environment for a community that is often subject to the confusion from going through this and fear from ignorance. Something heavily involving hate speech can be the hugely damaging conversion therapy, which is still not illegal in the UK, an attempt at ‘curing’ homosexuality which is absurd in the first place due to it not being a disease and having nothing to cure. This is often dangerous as it can cause self-hate in the ‘patient’ and lead to continual mental instability over the course of their life. In more than one case this has led to suicide.
And of course there is blood donation. Men who have sexual relations with other men are allowed to donate blood in all parts of the UK, after allowing a 1 year of no sexual relations with another man, excluding Northern Ireland which has a full ban on any man that has had sexual relations with a man donating blood. This seems to be an out-dated law that has very little place in modern society with the potential to test for STDs which also have the potential to be passed on in opposite-sex sexual relations.
So my question is how many of these are out-dated? How many need changing?