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LGBTQIA+ UK News Round-Up: December 2023

Getting through the Christmas period can be tough for the LGBTQIA+ community, so we hope you’ve enjoyed your festive break with your chosen queer family - and are looking forward to seeing what on earth’s in store for 2024.

At Rainbow & Co, our December was even more of a whirlwind than usual; after Joanna Cherry MP shared that she was boycotting Superdry after seeing one of their workers wearing our TERF repellent pin, our sales went completely mad for a few days. Thanks, Jo! 

So, to counter the absolute whirlwind that was December 2023, we’ve rounded up some of the best news stories from the month that you might have missed while you were stuck in a mince pie daze… 

World AIDS Day was marked to remember all those who have died from AIDS

Each year, the 1st of December marks an important day for the LGBTQIA+ community. World Aids Day is observed by all UN member states, as they come together to remember everyone who’s lost their lives to AIDS and AIDS-related illnesses - on top of showing solidarity with those living with HIV today. In Manchester, AIDS-awareness charity George House Trust held a World AIDS Day Vigil in the city’s Gay Village where attendees donated a sum of £1535, while their Big Give Campaign raised £5,000 in the lead-up to the commemoration.

Several LGBTQIA+ individuals were included in the King’s New Year Honours List

King Charles released his first New Years Honours List as sovereign, where several members of the queer community were awarded MBEs. Among those chosen were out-queer athletes Tom Bosworth and Lauren Hemp, and co-founder of George House Trust Paul Fairweather; Paul was at the forefront of the community response to the growing HIV epidemic in Manchester, and helped found the same Manchester AIDS line that changed its name to George House Trust in 1990.

Olly Alexander was revealed as the UK’s 2024 Eurovision entry

Known for his unforgettable performance as Ritchie in ‘It's a Sin’ and, of course, being the frontrunner of the band Years and Years, it was announced that Olly Alexander would be representing the United Kingdom in the next Eurovision Song Contest. And the big news was broken in possibly the campest way possible… on Strictly Come Dancing. In honour of the announcement, the multi-award-winning artist also changed his Instagram bio to “being gay for Eurovision 2024.” Aren’t we all, Olly. Aren’t we all. 

London’s New Year’s fireworks show had a poignant tribute to same-sex marriage in the UK

London’s annual event showed that it could outdo itself yet again with a 15-minute firework and drone display that included a nod to 10 years since same-sex marriage was legalised across the UK. The London Eye was lit up with rainbow colours while “Spice Up Your Life” blared behind it, à la Doctor Who. As heartfelt as this tribute was, it also served as a shocking reminder that the UK’s queer community only achieved marriage equality in 2014, and a note not to forget that there’s still so much work to do for LGBTQIA+ rights in the nation.

The Christmas Doctor Who episode aired in true queer glory

Speaking of Doctor Who, Christmas day telly this year was saved by two things: an Eastenders plot twist that will forever go down in the show’s history - and the welcoming of Ncuti Gatwa in his first full episode as the new Doctor. Not only was ‘The Church on Ruby Road’ brilliantly camp (see here: a full-blown musical number with glam goblin villains) but it was also brilliantly inclusive. The episode featured more confirmation the Doctor is a genderfluid queer icon after mentioning his short tryst with Harry Houdini, as well as a teaser that Yasmin Finney would be returning as Donna Noble’s fearless trans daughter. Oh, and did we mention that cameo from Davina McCall?

Trans Secret Santa UK sent hundreds of secret gift bundles to trans young people

Being trans and gender non-conforming in the UK can be difficult all times of the year, but especially over the holiday period when trans individuals are more likely to see family. To remind transgender youth just how loved they are this festive season, LGBTQIA+ youth organisation Think2Speak launched a Secret Santa campaign to send secret gift bundles to hundreds of trans young people in the UK. The campaign was created in collaboration with trans campaigner Jude Guaitamacchi, trans artist Mister Samo, and their patron Octavian Starr following a successful version launched in America. 

We were thrilled to take part in Trans Secret Santa, sending a huge box of Rainbow & Co trans themed goodies to be added to the gift boxes, as well as decking out some of the volunteers in our Santa Says Trans Rights Christmas Jumpers!

Two teenagers were found guilty of Brianna Ghey’s murder

Last month, the Brianna Ghey trial officially started in Manchester following the horrific murder of the 16-year-old trans girl in February this year; on December 20th, two teenagers were finally found guilty of the crime that sent shockwaves through every part of the UK’s LGBTQIA+ community. The anonymity of the two teenagers will be lifted when they’re sentenced in February. The news is a small piece of justice for Brianna, but still not enough.

The official guidance for how schools can support trans and non-binary pupils was finally published…

The long-awaited and controversial trans guidance for UK schools was finally published this month, and was unsurprisingly (but still sadly) exactly what the queer community was expecting. Not only did the guidance use combative language and stated that gender is a “contested belief”, but it gave permission for teachers and school staff to decline a request by trans pupils to use alternative pronouns. The guidance was quickly condemned by LGBTQIA+ charities Stonewall, Galop, and Mermaids - among many others in the community.

… and fierce trans-ally Georgia Tennant fought back

In wake of the published guidance, Georgia Tennant (unwavering LGBTQIA+ ally and wife of everyone’s favourite Doctor, David Tennant - also a fierce ally to the queer community) set about gathering messages from teachers across the UK who say they will ignore the advice and continue to respect how their students want to identify. Tennant also wrote a message of support for trans children and their families saying, “Most people are kind and inclusive and progressive. These people want you to believe that’s not the case, but do not believe them. Carry on with your heads high and your hearts open; they'll be gone soon x”

The Asylum and Immigration bill reared its ugly head again, along with government admittance that LGBTQIA+ people could face discrimination if deported to Rwanda

Home Secretary James Cleverly signed a new treaty in Rwanda that put the previously ruled as illegal deportation plans for migrants back on the table. Once again, the UK government admitted that queer migrants could face discrimination if deported to the East African country. After the first plan was put to parliament, refugee and LGBTQ+ groups warned that sending migrants back to their country of origin or a third nation could increase the risk of mistreatment, known as refoulement. 

Suella Braverman finally got what she deserved when she was tricked into accepting a prize for ‘D**ck of the Year’

The only thing better than the sacking of the former Home Secretary who once described flying refugees to Rwanda as her “dream” and “obsession”, was watching her be duped into accepting a bogus award naming her ‘D**ck of the Year.’ Braverman was this year’s recipient of The Last Leg’s annual mock prize, and was tricked into being crowned in her own constituency of Fareham; instead of standing in front of a board that revealed the name of a new local small boat, the sign instead announced Braverman as the winner of DOTY 2023. And you can only guess what that stands for. 

Image of Tilly, a smiling woman with blonde hair and blue eyes.

Tilly Brogan

Tilly is a queer Freelance Copywriter based in Manchester. She balances her time between working  with LGBTQ+ organisations and women’s rights charities - and people watching in various Manchester cafes. She is also a proud lesbian. You can read more of her work here.

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