The Welsh Government’s LGBTQ+ Action Plan for Wales has been praised as an ‘example of good practice in human rights policymaking’ by a UN report.
Two of the key aims of the Action Plan are to strengthen understanding of LGBTQ+ people’s human rights and improve their understanding of how to assert their human rights.
Following a visit to the UK, the UN’s Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity praised the work of Welsh Government in addressing LGBTQ+ human rights.
Deputy Minister for Social Partnership, Hannah Blythyn, who will be attending Pride Cymru this weekend, said:
We want to see a Wales where everyone is able to live their lives as their authentic selves, free from fear and discrimination. As a government we’re committed to championing and supporting inclusivity – within our cultural life, in our communities and throughout our country.
The UN praise for our LGBTQ+ Action Plan and ambition to become the most LGBTQ+ friendly nation in Europe is humbling but I very much recognise there remains work to be done and that Pride events still have an important part to play across our nation.
Sadly, LGBTQ+ people continue to face attacks globally, especially transgender women and girls and our rights are at risk of being rolled back. That’s why, here in Wales we stand proudly together with and within our LGBTQ+ communities.
Continuing a commitment to making Wales the most LGBTQ+ friendly nation in Europe, another key aim of the Welsh Government’s LGBTQ+ Action Plan is to improve the representation, inclusion, and participation of LGBTQ+ people in sports.
The Plan outlines how sport should be for everyone, a place where everyone can take part and where everyone is treated with kindness, dignity and respect.
It aims to look for opportunities for dialogue, to find ways of promoting understanding rather than conflict, and to demonstrate respect rather than to look for exclusion.
Cardiff Dragons FC team was Wales’ first LGBTQ+ football team when it launched in 2008, before other teams started up in Newport, Swansea and North Wales, and has players ranging from 18 years old to those in their 50s.
It has continued to grow in recent years and regularly sees around 40 to 50 people taking part in training sessions.
Charlotte Galloway, who is Chair of the club, said they have tried to be as inclusive as possible:
The main thing that we do, which is possibly the most powerful, is at the start of training sessions we gather around a circle in our teams and introduce ourselves with our name and with our pronouns.
It puts somebody's gender expression out there without making an awkward conversation of it, that normalises it, that makes it visible. And I think that's how easy it can be.
Charlotte, who also set up the LGBTQ+ Sport Network Wales earlier this year, added that their presence at Pride Cymru was important to raise awareness of their existence:
Pride is really useful for us to be able to be there as a club and able to connect with the wider community, to show that, yes, LGBTQ+ football clubs exist. Yes, there's a need for us to exist.
And if you're queer or questioning and you feel like you don't want to play in a heteronormative environment, a macho style environment with prescribed masculinity, it doesn't have to be like that, there are places for you. So, it’s really valuable for us to have that platform to be able to connect with people that we don't normally get a chance to connect with.
While Welsh Government continues to support Pride Cymru, another aim of the Plan is to support Pride organisations across Wales, with the Welsh Government’s Grassroots Pride Fund offering support for the development and organisation of smaller Pride events to ensure they thrive.
Seren Edwards, who is Chair of Powys Pride, said such events were crucial in creating a feeling of inclusion and community.
I believe it’s very important that people are able to get together and are able to meet whether it be a Pride event or whether it be sort of a dedicated space,”
I know some people, particularly in rural areas, really do feel isolated. I know others are concerned about prejudice and hatred in the current climate, so are sort of in hiding as well. It’s important people can go to a place where they can be themselves.
She added about sports:
Everybody, regardless of who they are, should have the rights and the ability to play sports. It's a no brainer, because one of the things with playing sports and exercise is that it's also exceedingly good for mental health and people's mental well-being.
This week saw the publication of the LGBTQ+ Action Plan tracker, so that anyone in Wales can monitor updates and progress against each action and activity in the Plan. It will also serve as a hub for new support services and resources available in Wales.