Queer families exist, and exist proudly, in the UK. This is despite a landscape which has seen fear and hatred stoked against LGBTQ+ communities, ending what once appeared to be the beginnings of an age of acceptance. Queer communities are affected multiply by prejudice and bigotry, in all areas of society – and especially with regard to their right to family. How did we get here, and what solutions are available for queer families in need of advocacy or recourse??
A Dark History
Britain’s LGBTQ+ history is, aptly, a vibrant one – though one unfortunately defined by the unusual cruelty with which gay, trans and queer citizens have been treated historically. Just as modern British culture has been shaped by the contributions of our LGBTQ+ citizens, so too has British society maligned their presence – whether in the mainstream or out in the fringes. This malignance has continued to crop up, as recently as Section 28 and even more so.
Structural Biases Today
Despite the many great leaps and strides that have been made societally, governmentally and legally with regard to the recognition of LGBTQ+ relationships, families and rights besides, the present picture for queer households is not a great one.
Rising anti-LGBTQ+ sentiments, stoked by the rapid rise of far-right ideology in local and conservative politics since the mid-2010s, have made the UK less safe for the LGBTQ+ community. As reported by Stonewall, hate crimes against the transgender community have increased by as much as 186% in five years alone – a societal shift with troubling consequences for hard-fought and already-fragile legal rights to healthcare and parenthood.
As systems interpolate the most dangerous opinions of a vocal minority, so too does navigating the UK’s welfare system become significantly harder for LGBTQ+ people. Individual and ingrained prejudices compound to create structural issues, wherein queer families find it harder to access adoption and surrogacy services.
Action, Advocacy and Activism
While the structural biases inherent to many of the UK’s systems could only be eradicated by complete structural reform, this does not mean there are no modes of redress for LGBTQ+ families experiencing roadblocks to accessing key services and rights.
Where prejudice has cleared negatively impacted the outcome of a legal process or bid, a family solicitor could be consulted for advice on seeking recompense civilly. While civil rights are central to this conversation, a deep-seated understanding of family law is essential to navigate this unique area of the queer experience.
There is also great strength in numbers when it comes to meeting intolerance and structural inequality in legal or civil systems. Advocacy networks put LGBTQ+ people together to help advance their rights, and seek solutions to individual cases. For more conventional advice and assistance, there are many queer charities focused on ensuring LGBTQ+ families and children can get the resources they need.