THE BLOG

Gay Britannia Season On The BBC

04/08/2017 11:35

For the past two weeks, the BBC has been marking 50 years since the partial decriminalisation of homosexual acts, with the Gay Britannia season, across television, radio and online.

From where we stand today, in what many of us think of as a tolerant society, it seems barely imaginable that just over 50 years ago, you could be imprisoned simply for having a consenting sexual experience with another adult of the same sex.

Since the legislation was passed, there's undoubtedly been seismic changes in attitudes towards LGBTQ+ people... but there's an uncomfortable truth which it's hugely important to reflect in the season: there's still a way to go for LGBTQ+ people not just in far flung places, but here in Britain. The law may have changed but there are still many gay and transgender people who don't feel safe in the UK. And for good reason.

We're tackling this head on in our BBC Two film Is It Safe To Be Gay In The UK? It's a raw, visceral film in which a number of people recount their experience of homophobic hate crimes, many of which have occurred in just the past few years. It feels urgent and necessary viewing given reports of an increase in homophobic attacks across the country.

In the film, we hear from a wide range of LGBTQ+ contributors, including married couple Alex and Becky who endured an unprovoked attack in the streets of Croydon, Dain and James who are dealing with psychological fallout of the vicious attack they suffered in Brighton, Connor who has ongoing health implications to cope with following a brutal assault and Jenny, whose brother was killed in an unprovoked attack in the heart of London.

The programme is powerful and heart-breaking and I admire the bravery of all those who took part in the film and spoke out about their experiences. The terrible truth is that physical assaults of this kind leave not just physical scars but psychological wounds which are incredibly difficult to recover from.

In commissioning programmes for this season, it's been important to delve into the history of our attitudes towards homosexuality; and the battles which took place in order for partial decriminalisation to take place. Factual Drama Against The Law, BBC Four series The People's History of LGBTQ+ Britain, and Queer As Art have all looked back to show us how we got to now. But this film - alongside BBC Three's Growing Up Gay with Olly Alexander - are vividly about today and about the reality that despite the progress made being gay in the UK still isn't easy - and in extreme cases can have terrible consequences.

This season continues the BBC's long history of tackling LGBTQ+ subjects - I remember how significant a moment it was for me to see the first ever kiss between men on a UK soap in EastEnders and there have been other milestone moments since then.

Important as seasons like this are, we're committed to reflecting life for the LGBTQ+ community year round, in all its complexity, diversity and variety. My very personal hope is that the films in this season inspire LGBTQ+ people all over the country and, that in 10 years' time, when Britain marks the 60th anniversary that a film about homophobic violence in Britain belongs very firmly in the past.

Is It Safe To Be Gay In The UK? is available now on BBC iPlayer.

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