What Queen Elizabeth II Didn't Say About LGBT Rights in Her Speech

Queen Elizabeth II

Queen Elizabeth II, in her speech for the opening of Parliament today, made a clear, albeit nonspecific, call for protecting the U.K.’s gay citizens and a variety of other groups against discrimination.

“My government will make further progress to tackle the gender pay gap and discrimination against people on the basis of their race, faith, gender, disability, or sexual orientation,” the queen said, according to the U.K.’s Pink News.

This appears to be the first time since 2004 that gay rights have been mentioned in what’s known as the “Queen’s Speech,” given annually when Parliament begins its session, the site reports.

The speech was “largely neutered,” notes Pink News, to avoid partisan politics after Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative Party failed to win a parliamentary majority in the recent election. The party is seeking to form a coalition government with the anti-LGBT Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland, but difficulties have arisen over other issues.

The queen did not mention transgender rights specifically, but before the election May had pledged to revise the Gender Recognition Act to make it easier to change the gender marker on legal documents. 

“I know that for some trans people, the legal process to change their gender can be distressing, so changes do need to be made,” May told Pink News prior to the election. “We’re looking to move away from the current focus on medical checks towards a system that works better for trans people.”

The LGBT rights group Stonewall released a statement to Pink News, saying, “While today’s Queen’s Speech understandably focused heavily on Britain’s exit from the European Union, we were pleased to hear a clear acknowledgment that more must be done to tackle discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in the next two years, alongside other forms of discrimination. But we are very concerned no mention was made of tackling discrimination based on gender identity.”

The group is “seeking urgent clarification” that the new government will be committed to revising the Gender Recognition Act, the statement continued. Stonewall added, “It’s vital that any deal with the DUP to support the government’s programme does not water down its commitment to make progress on fighting discrimination and securing equality for all LGBT people.”

“Today was a missed opportunity to make clearer and more specific commitments on LGBT rights,” Stonewall further noted. “But the government has an opportunity to demonstrate their commitment in their actions.”

The queen also made no mention of Donald Trump’s planned visit to the U.K. Many politicians and activists who opponse his policies have called for his official visit to be canceled. And some observers have commented on how much the hat Queen Elizabeth wore today resembled the European Union flag — perhaps a subtle way of objecting to U.K. citizens’ vote last year to leave the body.

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