‘Life discriminated against you in many ways’ Campaigner Lisa Power looks back at 30 years of LGBT rights

Lisa Power has been campaigning for LGBT rights for decades

Lisa Power is one of the founders of Stonewall UK, and has spent over thirty years campaigning for LGBT rights both in Wales and internationally.

She was openly lesbian in the 1970’s, at a time when discrimination was common.

‘’We had none of the protections that we have now,’’ Lisa said.

‘’There was no protection in employment. You could be sacked for being lesbian or gay, you would almost certainly have your kids taken off you in a custody case. You couldn’t adopt or foster as an LGBT person.

‘’Life discriminated against you in many, many ways if you were at all open about yourself.’’

Lisa founded Stonewall UK alongside other campaigners like Sir Ian McKellen

The founding of Stonewall UK came after Section 28 was enacted. It was the first anti-gay piece of legislation to be introduced in the UK in a century. The law banned schools and local authorities from ‘’promoting’’ homosexuality.

‘’It was designed to make us shut up.

‘’It said that our family relationships were pretend family relationships. It said that local authorities couldn’t help or support us in any way.’’

Lisa's presence in the UN chamber was not welcomed by some

Lisa’s campaigning took her all the way to the UN, where she spoke on behalf of LGBT people across the world. She was one of the first openly LGBT people to address the chamber. Her presence there championing LGBT rights was not welcomed by some.

‘’I remember one of the representatives called me, ‘an abomination on the face of the earth,’’ she recalls.

But facing such derogatory remarks only made Lisa more determined.

‘’We need to challenge people who are anti-LGBT and ask them, ‘Why?’

‘’Why don’t they think we are part of humanity?’’

Stonewall UK is celebrating thirty years since its foundation

As the charity Lisa founded celebrates thirty years, she is proud of what they have achieved but says there is much more still to do.

‘’If people think we have equality now, I invite them to look at the statistics on hate crime. I invite them to read the stories of people who get beaten up, thrown out of home.

‘’You only have to look online, or in the pages of some of our major newspapers to see the ridiculous accusations and bile levelled against trans people.’’

For Lisa, pride is still an important part of ensuring that equality she’s fought for is achieved.

‘’I would love not to need pride, but we do need it to show that everybody is equal.

‘’Pride to me means visibility, it’s the opposite of shame.

‘’It’s saying, ‘We’re not scared, we’re not ashamed and we’re going to stand up.’ Pride for me is both a protest and a parade.

‘’There’s been an absolute explosion (of pride parades), particularly in South Wales, in the last couple of years and that’s just brilliant.

''It’s a party day but it’s also a party day that makes a point.’’