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The Guardian view on LGBT rights: the fight for equality is still on | Editorial

Prejudice against LGBT people has sharply declined, but a new survey shows it hasn’t gone away

The legalisation of same-sex marriage in the UK (though not Northern Ireland) five years ago was a landmark on the road to equal rights for gay and lesbian people. The fact that David Cameron, a Conservative prime minister, drove the bill through parliament – even if he had to rely on Labour votes to pass it – only served to magnify its significance. Homophobia, it was widely assumed, was a fading force, even in the Tory party, which as recently as 2002 voted against gay adoption.

What the results of a government online survey of 108,000 LGBT people reveal is that such conclusions were over-hasty, if well intentioned. Prejudice and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity persist to an extent that will surely surprise heterosexuals more than they surprise the gay, lesbian and transgender people who are on the receiving end of such behaviours. Of respondents to the survey, the largest of its kind in the world, 70% reported having concealed their sexual orientation for fear of a negative reaction, while 28% had experienced harassment or insults in the past year. Belonging to a sexual minority remains a difficult experience for many people, despite the success of a high-profile few. Role models such as Ruth Davidson, Tom Daley and Craig Revel Horwood are important. The survey would never have happened were it not for another Conservative politician, Justine Greening, who launched it when she was women and equalities secretary (and who came out as gay herself almost exactly two years ago, in a tweet sent on the day of London’s Pride parade).

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