Greater Manchester is the highest and most densely populated area of the North West. The political and community response to the HIV/AIDS crisis and Section 28 in the 1980s established some of the longest running LGB&T VCS organisations and public sector LGB&T engagement and involvement mechanisms in the country.
The expansion of the commercial scene in the 1990s and the high national profile of Canal Street and Manchester Pride has established Manchester as an LGB&T destination of choice.
Despite the relative successes the area has enjoyed, problems do exist. LGB&T populations in boroughs and cities outside of Manchester itself can feel neglected. Areas of deprivation exist throughout Greater Manchester. Canal Street can be seen as a ‘ghetto’, dominated by younger white gay men, drugs, crime and heterosexual ‘tourists’.
The proliferation of LGB&T VCS groups has been beneficial in terms of a relatively strong LGB&T infrastructure but has also led to competition and mistrust between groups.
What did Greater Manchester say?
“There is a big risk of complacency. The assumption is that LGB&T people have got their rights. There is a lack of motivation to make changes.”
“Socialising on Canal Street, working for an LGB&T friendly employer – you can live in a ‘gay bubble’. The reality is that even in ‘gay Mecca’ Manchester, as soon as I leave Canal Street I might get abuse for holding hands with my boyfriend.”
“Front line services are still not good enough. There needs to be more funding for LGB&T specific services and more training and education for mainstream services.”
“Having LGB&T inclusive policies is great but how are they made real? Are LGB&T people confident and empowered to challenge people when they experience problems?”
“Why should people disclose their sexual orientation or gender identity? What will the information be used for?”
How will Greater Manchester use the Strategy?
- Share the Strategy with colleagues; speak to senior decision makers regionally and nationally. Get feedback.
- Use strategy as a starting off point – look at Commissioning cycles, could be a way of getting private sector to look at LGB&T issues.
- Spend time looking at specific LGB&T issues, not just general Equality and Diversity.
- Use contacts from event to share best practice.
- Link Strategy with existing policies.
- Explore problems of faith and sexual orientation.