Adrian Morris, Chair of Brighton, Hove and District Labour Party joined council leaders and members of the LGBT community in Brighton and Hove on Thursday to mark the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT). May 17th commemorates the day in 1990 the World Health Organisation removed homosexuality from its list of mental diseases.
This is the text of Adrian’s speech.
At school I was never bullied because of my sexuality. I was very fortunate. And this was at a time when homosexuality was illegal. Legislation changed that in 1967.
More recently there have been calls for a change in the law to protect children from bullying in schools.
However, a change in the law wouldn’t have saved Damilola Taylor. A ten year old Nigerian schoolboy who was killed in Peckham, London, in November 2000. Simply because his classmates thought he was gay. He didn’t even know what the word gay meant. Legislation cannot change attitudes.
But as Nelson Mandella has said, ‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.’
That is why the theme of this event is so important. To bring awareness and eradicate homophobia, biphobia and transphobia that exists in schools. And yes, education can change attitudes.
I would like to pay tribute to the Education Equalities Worker at the council. A great deal of that officer’s work focusses on homophobia in schools. Also to Allsorts Youth Project, who do so much to help create safer and supportive environments for LGBT young people, in schools, colleges and youth organisations.
Finally, I would just like to read some words that Damilola Taylor, the young boy who didn’t even know what gay meant, had written a few days before he was killed.
‘I will travel far and wide to choose my destiny and remould the world. I know it is my destiny to defend the world, which I hope to achieve during my lifetime.’
For him and in the memory of his very short life, let us hope that attitudes will change not only here in our city, but also across the world that he cared so much about.