Stonewall (officially Stonewall Equality Limited) isa lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights charity in the United Kingdom named after the Stonewall Inn of Stonewall riots fame in New York City’s Greenwich Village.
Now the largest LGBT rights organisation not only in the UK but in Europe, it was formed in 1989 by political activists and others lobbying against section 28 of the Local Government Act. Its founders include Sir Ian McKellen, Lisa Power MBE[ and Lord Cashman (CBE).
Stonewall has diversified into policy development for the rights of lesbian, gay and bisexual people after Labour came to power in 1997. It remains a lobbying organisation rather than a membership organisation. Former Chief Executive Ben Summerskill has commented: “We are not a ‘democratic’ organisation. We seek to develop all our work, and policy positions where appropriate, by building as wide a consensus as possible among lesbian, gay and bisexual people.”
Stonewall has regional offices for all of Great Britain: Stonewall in GB is based in London, Stonewall Scotland has headquarters in Edinburgh, and Stonewall Cymru (Stonewall Wales) is in Cardiff and north Wales. Currently, Stonewall does not have any regional headquarters in Northern Ireland.
Stonewall’s most high-profile achievements have been in parliamentary lobbying. Under Director Angela Mason, it saw amendments to the 2002 Adoption and Children Bill which treated lesbian and gay couples in the same way as heterosexuals, and Mason was awarded an OBE “for services to homosexual rights”. Under its former Chief Executive Ben Summerskill it was in successful parliamentary campaigns to:
- repeal Section 28 of the Local Government Act (2003),
- recognise anti-gay hate crimes, through the Criminal Justice Act 2003,
- introduce the Civil Partnership Act 2004 giving gay and lesbian couples a legal framework equivalent to civil marriage,
- introduce the 2007 Sexual Orientation Regulations, protections against discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation in the provision of goods and services secured through the Equality Act 2006.
- equalise treatment of lesbian parents and their children in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008
- introduce an offence of incitement to homophobic hatred in the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008, matching existing protections around race and religion.
Earlier high-profile work was backing legal test cases in the European Court of Human Rights. These included:
- Chris Morris and Euan Sutherland, who in Sutherland v United Kingdom successfully challenged the unequal age of consent laws.
- Duncan Lustig-Prean and John Beckett who successfully challenged the ban on gay people in the armed forces.
- Lisa Grant, who (unsuccessfully) sued her employer, South West Trains, for equal pay and benefits.
Rainbow Laces Campaign
One of the major changes that Stonewall is trying to make is to bring in equality and curb homophobia in all sports. What it does is one after another it targets different sports and urges straight and LGBT sportspersons to raise their voice and speak up against homophobia and racial slurring. This they do through innovative and creative campaign props. Their target sport currently is cricket and the English county leagues.
Two major cricket leagues in England and Wales will be demonstrating support for the Rainbow Laces campaign this weekend.
Men and women — in the NatWest T20 Blast and the Kia Super League, respectively — will be wearing rainbow-coloured shoelaces, among other displays of inclusion. Rainbow Laces is a campaign that encourages athletes to wear rainbow-coloured laces in their cleats and sneakers during matches to show support for the LGBT community.
What is the Rainbow Laces campaign?
Launched by LGBT equality charity Stonewall The Rainbow Laces campaign began in 2013.
The movement began because Stonewall took to fight homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in sport. They claim that 72 per cent football fans have heard anti-LGBT remarks at games over the last five years.
If their favourite player came out one in five 18 to 24-year-olds say it would be embarrassing for them.
The plan is for the campaign to raise awareness and tackle the present problem within sport.
5 Steps To Solidarity
The promotion is being pushed by the England and Wales Cricket Board, which lists five ways the Rainbow Laces campaign, and the rainbow in general, will be incorporated into matches this weekend:
- All NatWest T20 Blast and Kia Super League players and umpires to wear rainbow laces during matches.
- Prominent display of Rainbow Flags at the pre-match ‘guard of honour’ welcoming teams onto the field
- A rainbow band decoration will sit on the stumps.
- Sky commentators will be donning rainbow laces to show their support for the campaign.
- Display of the Rainbow Laces flag at county grounds together with big screen support for the campaign at all grounds.
Graces Cricket Club
While researching this article, FSOG also came across an LGBT Cricket Club, ‘Graces’, to talk about the campaign and their designation as one of the few (if not the only) LGBT cricket club in England.
Graces is the world’s first LGBT cricket club, consisting of players and supporters of various nationalities and sexual orientations.
Based in London, they exist to provide an opportunity for people to watch and play cricket irrespective of gender or sexual orientation. Their vision is to assert upon the cricketing and wider sporting community an ideal of total equality and inclusion.
Grace’s Cricket Club was founded in April 1996 at Central Station in King’s Cross. The aim remains the same as it was then. ‘To promote enjoyment of the game of cricket amongst the LGBT community’. Originally set up as a supporters’ group, consequently, it soon became apparent that there were enough of them to form a team.
Visibility efforts like this are good ways for organisations like the ECB. Its a good move to begin its demonstration toward LGBT inclusion in sports. We look forward to seeing what the next steps will be.
Read here about LGBT Inclusion In Sports.
Written by: Delshad Master