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From Debate to Progress: Reflections on Queer rights and Political Activism in the UK

One of my earliest and most impactful memories of engaging with UK politics dates to 2013, when the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act was passed, allowing same-sex couples in England and Wales to marry. That same week, as part of my global education studies, our class held a debate on whether same-sex couples should be allowed to marry or adopt. I was shocked by the number of classmates who argued against these rights, having previously considered the answer a no-brainer.

Reflecting on that debate now, it's clear how much societal attitudes have evolved.

Today, eleven years later, it seems almost surreal that the right for same-sex couples to marry was granted such a short time ago, considering the profound shift in culture and attitudes towards queer identity that has occurred since then. It has been remarkable to witness the efforts of both central and local government in addressing the needs of the LGBTQ+ community, especially transgender individuals, both socially—such as recognising non-binary identities—and by ensuring inclusive healthcare services are provided to all.

However, this progress has also attracted considerable negative attention toward the queer community from those who believe the movement has gone "too far" and that its demands are excessive. Identity politics now occupies a significant portion of today's headlines and has become a central focus for political parties more than ever before, for better or for worse. Although the ideals of equality and inclusivity once seemed self-evident to me, it has become increasingly clear that the continuation of rights for marginalised groups is far from guaranteed, especially for those within the transgender community. The overturning of Roe v. Wade in the US serves as a glaring reminder of how years of progress can be undone in an instant. It would be naïve to assume we are immune to similar steps backwards. With the general election just around the corner, we are constantly reminded of the importance of our vote—and yes, it is crucial. However, our voices are equally vital. Voting is essential for supporting our communities, but our activism must extend beyond the polling station.

Regardless of the outcome next month, I know there will still be an immense amount of work to do to continue fighting for queer rights and ensuring the progress we've made isn't undone. It’s clear to me that speaking out and putting pressure on those in power is essential to protect and advance the rights of marginalised groups. Working within public sector recruitment, I have spent the last two years spending time with numerous councils and seeing the incredible work they do for the queer community. It has been truly inspiring to see the wide range of initiatives aimed at promoting kindness and acceptance, from large metropolitan areas to smaller towns.

Through this work, I have also come to realise the importance of recognising my own privilege in this fight. I would be remiss not to acknowledge that, as a cisgender, white, able-bodied man, I possess significant privilege despite my sexuality. This privilege affords me certain protections that are not equally accessible to all members of the queer community. Intersectionality is crucial in highlighting how discrimination and prejudice are not experienced in isolation. The struggles of queer individuals are increased when intersecting with other marginalised identities, such as being a person of colour, transgender, or living with a disability.

This is one of the reasons why I am proud to work at Penna. Throughout the year, I witness the incredible work they do to highlight various social issues and raise awareness. They also invite inspirational individuals to share their insights and stories, fostering a culture of empathy and understanding. This approach promotes the idea that we are stronger when we fight for others and when others fight for us. Standing in solidarity with those who do not share our struggles is just as important as standing with those who do, creating a more inclusive and supportive community for everyone.

We all have more power than we realise, and Pride Month showcases the importance of staying visible, making our voices heard, and amplifying the voices of others. By doing so, we ensure that we continue on the path toward equality and acceptance.

Thomas Race is an Associate Consultant on our Executive Interim team here at Penna.  To find out how Penna can assist you in your recruitment journey, get in touch with our team at


Thomas Race – Associate Consultant, Executive Interim

Thomas Race

LinkedIn: Thomas Race


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