Introduction

This strategy was developed in consultation with the LGF’s Rainbow Partnership members.

The Rainbow Partnership initiative aims to support and build the capacity of the LGB&T voluntary and community sector (VCS) in the North West. There are currently over 270 members of the network (as of January 2009), drawn from across the North West; at the start of the consultation process, there were around 60 members.

Although individual membership is possible, the majority of members represent an organisation. 57 members are voluntary and community LGB&T organisations in the North West. A significant proportion of the rest of the members are public sector bodies.

The Rainbow Partnership is thus a strong and growing conduit for connecting voluntary and public sector organisations, facilitating mutual learning and the identification of common goals. Whilst the membership includes representation from three of the largest lesbian, gay and bisexual charities in the UK, it should be noted that the overwhelming majority of the voluntary and community sector organisations (and hence of the Rainbow Partnership network) survive on the knowledge, skills, dedication and enthusiasm of their members, with financial turnovers of less than £1,000 per annum.

What is clear is that the LGB&T North West Voluntary Community Sector is currently very fragile and under resourced.

Context

There is currently no census information on the size of the LGB&T population within the UK and no plans to introduce this into the 2011 Census. However, the lesbian and gay population has been estimated by the Government Actuaries Department as 6% of the UK population.

Within the North West, this equates to 408,000 people. There are no official estimations of the bisexual population in the UK. However, the LGF estimate that an additional 3% of the population are bisexual, meaning there is a North West LGB population of 612,000.

The transsexual community is estimated by both the Equality and Human Rights Commission and Press for Change (a leading political lobbying and educational organisation for trans people), to be 5,000 people in the UK, increasing by approximately 300 people per year. However, at the consultation event in Blackpool, there were discussions that suggested the trans population is likely to be much higher, as the current estimated figure is calculated on transsexual prevalence alone and does not include those who are not seeking gender recognition. This strategy will use the wider term of trans to ensure that it is inclusive of transsexual, transgender, and other gender identities (see glossary for full definitions).

In October 2007, sexual orientation (LGB) was recognised by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) as an equality strand, whilst trans was included under the Gender equality strand. Historically, however, many people have linked sexual orientation and trans. There are commonalities between the issues and barriers facing the two strands, and the actions needed to support the infrastructure and sustainability of both the LGB and Trans VCS’ are similar. This strategy acknowledges these commonalities.

Recent legislation, including the Human Rights Act (1998), Sex Discrimination (Gender Reassignment) Regulations (1999), Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations (2003), Gender Recognition Act (2004), Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations (2007) and The Sex Discrimination (Amendment of Legislation) Regulations (2008), have introduced legal rights, particularly against discrimination, for LGB&T people in England and Wales (and Scotland and Northern Ireland in some cases). Since October 2007, it has been the responsibility of the Equality and Human Rights Commission to enforce these rights.