June is Pride month. A whole month to celebrate the achievements, joy and on-going struggle for equality for the LGBTQ+ community. As we see the month come to an end, we wanted to highlight the people who work year-round to ensure that the dignity, rights, and autonomy of the queer community are respected, whatever the month!
We spoke to Vic Tanner Davy & Paddy Haversham-Quaid from Liberate, a diversity and inclusion charity based on the Channel Islands. As the Channel Islands do not form part of the UK and are independently administrated, there are some unique challenges the charity tackles.
Who are Liberate and what do you do?
Liberate is the Channel Islands’ equality and diversity charity. We educate, we campaign for change, we reform policies and laws, we consult with organisations, we work with Government, and we support the community. One of the big things we do every September is to stage Channel Islands Pride. Uniquely, it is held over the two islands, alternating each year. So, if you want to ‘do’ CI Pride, you have to visit us twice – once in Guernsey, and once in Jersey!
What triggered the formation of Liberate?
We started in February 2014 in Guernsey and in August 2014 in Jersey in response to the question of equal marriage in the islands. As islands, we work a little differently to respond to our different needs. What became clear very quickly in Jersey was that Liberate needed to be about all minority groups, not just LGBTQ+, so we expanded our remit to support equality generally. Guernsey already had an equality charity, so they were able to focus on LGBTQ+ issues solely.
What are some of your landmark achievements?
Liberate has been instrumental in shaping discrimination legislation in the islands. We led the campaign for equal marriage and got the law across the line in both Bailiwicks. We are active in reforms around the provision of transgender healthcare in the islands. In Jersey we are currently pressing for law change to allow both Mums to be on a birth certificate, not just the birth mother; we are seeking the lifting of the ban on gay men donating blood to bring it in line with the UK; and, we are working to reduce stigma around living with HIV.
What does LGBTQ+ inclusion and acceptance look like for you?
Inclusion is the act of remembering that not everyone is the same as you, so making those adjustments to make them feel comfortable. It might be little things like the wording of a policy or newspaper article or lesson at school, or it might be the bigger things like laws that work for everyone or buildings that accommodate difference. Acceptance is the point at which inclusion becomes the default setting for Government, organisations and individuals.
What are some of the challenges LGBTQ+ people face in the channel islands?
Our biggest challenge is related to being an island. We lose a lot our young people (gay and straight) when they go to University, and due to our housing prices/rents they don’t return until they are of an age (and earning power) to live here, i.e. settling down with families. This means we have a missing generation, who would normally support a night-time economy. For those left in the island who are LGBTQ+, meeting people is very difficult. Because the LGBTQ+ population is small anywhere, and numerically smaller in the islands, making a LGBTQ+ bar work here is financially impossible – we lost our only gay bar about 20 years ago. This is the one thing we get asked about again and again. If we could make it work, we would do it!
In your experience, how can brands and business best be LGBTQ+ Allies?
Educating your employees by procuring the training offered by LGBTQ+ charities is great. You get up to date information, delivered by people with lived experience, and you are supporting their work in the community. And, in Pride month, don’t forget to take your corporate banner to Pride with a gang from work to show your organisation supports its LGBTQ+ employees to be open about who they are in the workplace!
Together, with the Liberate team, we’re exploring ways in which our game, Go For Goals, can be utilised in an educational setting to explore diversity and inclusion topics. If you’re interested in getting your hands on a copy get in touch here – we’d love to chat to you about how our business can help to create a more prosperous and inclusive world for all.