Jane Hutt MS, Deputy Minister & Chief Whip
LGBT+ communities experience disproportionate inequalities across a wide range of issues, including access to health services; bullying, discrimination and hate crime; poorer mental health; and overall life satisfaction levels. This disadvantage is further compounded when the needs and vulnerabilities of being LGBT+ intersect with other protected characteristics including age, race, sex, gender, religion and disability.
We have been working closely with LGBT+ communities to develop an LBGTQ+ plan for Wales. Initial engagement with over 600 participants last summer was followed by the establishment of an Expert Panel comprised of people with a depth of community-based, professional, organisational, academic and personal lived experience to inform this work. The Expert Panel has met several times in recent months to clarify the issues which must be addressed in a new plan if we are to achieve substantial change and improved outcomes for all our LGBT+ citizens.
I am pleased to receive the panel’s final report, which includes 61 recommendations covering all of the main areas identified through the earlier engagement. These are arranged under six main themes: Human Rights and Recognition; Safety; Home and Communities; Health and Social Care; Education; Workplace.
The report requires, and will receive, careful consideration, but it is already clear to me that the recommendations are well considered and robust. I therefore welcome the report wholeheartedly and have instructed my officials to engage across Welsh Government departments to agree the actions to be included in the plan and taken forward.
The Expert Panel has recommended that from this point on we should use the acronym LGBTQ+ in relation to this work. Both the panel and the Welsh Government recognise that there are different views and usages across our communities, and that practice is likely to change again in future.
We will also ensure that the plan is aligned as closely as possible with the Welsh Government’s Strategic Equality Plan and other plans to advance equality and human rights, including our Gender Equality Plan, the Framework for Action on Disability and the forthcoming Race Equality Action Plan.
A draft LGBTQ+ Action Plan for Wales will be published for consultation following the Senedd Cymru elections in May.
It is vital that the lived experiences of LGBTQ+ people guide the content and actions of the plan throughout its development. There will therefore be further engagement opportunities for LGBTQ+ people and stakeholders, as well as the wider public, to share their views on the plan during the public consultation phase before the Action Plan is finalised. I am particularly keen that young people be included further in the discussion and we will work with representative organisations to reach as many people of all ages as possible.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the members of the Expert Panel for their hard work and dedication which has enabled us to reach this crucial stage in developing the new plan. I also thank everyone who been engaged in the work up to now and encourage as many as possible to contribute to the consultation which will follow later this year.