29/12/2016 11:03 GMT | Updated 30/12/2017 05:12 GMT

The Age Of Acceptance: Why We Are Witnessing An Incredible Revolution In Attitudes To Homosexuality

paul mansfield photography via Getty Images

Since the beginning of civilisation, there have been several moments that have changed the course of human history forever.

The abolition of the slave trade is one notable example of much-needed progress, as is the vote for women and the fight against racism by figures such as Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela.

And humanity is, I believe, on the edge of adding one more historical moment of progress to this list; the end of homophobia and the celebration of homosexuality.

I strongly believe that we are witnessing monumental progress in attitudes to same-sex relationships. In the world today, incredible progress is being made in the fight for LGBT rights and acceptance; the western world is recognising, and embracing, the reality that members of our population are gay, that there is nothing wrong with this, and that gay people deserve full inclusion, equality and acceptance within our society.

In recent years, our mainstream society has made a realisation - that gay people are everyday and normal people. We are starting to see that homosexuality is natural, normal and harmless within a diverse and genetically varied population. Famous footballers, rugby players, chief executives, actors, teachers, doctors, plumbers and people from every single profession are speaking out about - and feeling confident to embrace - their sexuality, and quite rightly so.

Of course, there is still so much work to do in the fight against homophobia. Every hour of every day, gay people across the world are being attacked and assaulted simply for their sexual orientation. School children are being bullied and tormented simply for acting in a stereotypically 'gay' way, whilst Premier League footballers and other figures across the world feel they have to hide and conceal their sexuality out of a fear of rejection, hatred and assault.

Then there is the fact that being gay is actually illegal in over 70 countries worldwide, and even punishable by death in over 12. It is clear that so much misunderstanding, lack of awareness and education, ignorance and bigotry is continuing to stand in the way of the full acceptance of homosexuality.

Yet times are beginning to change. People are beginning, thanks to high profile sportsmen and celebrities 'coming out', to see homosexuality in an educated, enlightened and informed light. Stereotypes about the typical gay man or woman, stigma about sexual orientation and shame of one's sexual identity are all being challenged, leading to much-needed and very welcome change.

It's believed that around one in 10 people are gay. That's three children in the average school classroom; three children who are from all different backgrounds and with all different interests - it may be football, it may be fashion - and these young people deserve nothing less than complete acceptance, inclusion and love. LGBT young people are, unsurprisingly, at increased risk of self harm and suicide, either living in secrecy, shame and self-hatred, or enduring relentless bullying, rejection and harassment from peers.

Who can justify condemning these children - these completely innocent, normal lives - to a lifetime of bullying, persecution and hate? For their sake, we must bring about change and we must bring about education and acceptance.

We need to see gay people are normal people - we need to see that there is nothing wrong, nothing shameful and nothing 'dirty' about being in a same-sex relationship. The Ancient Greeks could embrace it - just ask Plato! - as did so many early societies. Can our generation reclaim acceptance of sexuality and consign the ludicrous hatred, prejudice and discrimination against gay people to the history books?

We are all human beings and homosexuality should never be a barrier to friendship, connections and inclusion. By coming together as one humanity, and this requires that each and every one of us refuses to let homophobia win, we can be the generation that brings about LGBT acceptance in the modern world.

The dawn is finally breaking on a golden age of love, acceptance and inclusion...may we seize this momentous opportunity.

Twitter @benwardleuk