As part of VisitBritain’s Love is GREAT campaign, the British government will celebrate LGBT rights by participating in local Pride events in 16 cities across the US, Mexico, and Canada this year, and will launch a nationwide sweepstakes on June 10th, 2017 to win a trip to Great Britain. The UK is proud to be recognized as one of the most progressive countries in the world for LGBT rights. The UK is the first foreign government to participate in Pride on such a significant scale in the Americas and is proud to continue the tradition this year. Activity will also commemorate the start of decriminalization of homosexuality in England & Wales with the 50th anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act of 1967. Love is GREAT will highlight the UK as a champion of LGBT equality and a global leader in human rights across policy, business, arts, culture, and tourism.
“Last year, it was my great privilege to walk for the first time in DC’s Capital Pride,” British Ambassador Kim Darroch said. “Diversity and inclusion are values that make the United Kingdom great – and as a leader in human rights, the UK is committed to promoting the LGBT cause around the world.”
The UK is proud to be recognized as one of the most progressive countries in the world for LGBT rights and a welcoming destination for all. To celebrate this, between June and October 2017, the British Embassy Washington, the UK Mission to the UN, VisitBritain, and each of the British Consulates will participate in marches and events in their regions – Atlanta, Boston, Austin, Charlotte, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, Salt Lake City, San Francisco and Washington, DC – with additional activity in Mexico City, Toronto and Vancouver.
In 2016, the UK saw record-breaking spend from US visitors, reaching £3.4 billion ($4.4 billion USD) across the UK last year and up 11% on 2015 figures. The latest statistics from the UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) also show that visits from the US were up 6% to 3.5 million in 2016, compared to the previous year.
“We are thrilled to be celebrating equality through our Love is GREAT Britain, our LGBTQ campaign taking place across Canada, Mexico and the United States. In this historic anniversary year, there are dedicated cultural exhibitions in London to enjoy, as well as Pride Festivals and Parades across the country. There has never been a better time to visit and celebrate your love in Britain.” says Paul Gauger, Executive Vice President Americas for VisitBritain.
Britain & LGBT Rights
The UK has had civil partnerships for over a decade, and equal marriage became legal in 2014 in England, Wales and Scotland. In 2002, same-sex couples were granted equal rights to adopt. Since 2005, transgender people can change their legal gender in the UK, granting them a new birth certificate and affording them full legal recognition of their acquired sex.
The UK is renowned as one of the most progressive in Europe for LGBT rights by ILGA-Europe, which is a testament to the achievements that have been made. One of the core objectives of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office’s Magna Carta Fund for Human Rights and Democracy is increased respect for equality and non-discrimination for all members of society. This year, more than a $1 million from the fund will support a variety of projects, including those focused on LGBT rights, which are aimed at: improving institutional protection against discrimination including through removing or amending discriminatory laws, policies and practices; reducing hate speech, violence or harassment based on discrimination; and increasing the participation of minority groups in political and public life, including in positions of leadership and influence.
Love is GREAT
The Love is GREAT campaign was launched by VisitBritain, the UK’s national tourism agency, in 2014 to welcome the new same-sex marriage law in England, Wales and Scotland. The campaign highlights Britain as an all-embracing holiday choice for LGBT visitors, offering unique experiences – from city breaks to countryside escapes – which are easily accessible and open to all, regardless of sexuality.
The campaign is part of VisitBritain’s larger ‘Home of Amazing Moments’ campaign, which was launched in 2016, inspiring visitors to the UK to seek out their own amazing experiences and share them on social media.
visitbritain.com/loveisgreat lists an array of choices for the LGBT traveller, including Pride parades in 2017, LGBT arts and cultural festivals, LGBT sports and activity clubs, Britain’s best gay and lesbian nightlife, plus a vast spectrum of gay-owned and gay-welcoming accommodation throughout England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Also featured on the site are LGBT city guides to London, Brighton, Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow, and Cardiff. UK cities such as Birmingham and Brighton have also just revealed the first details of this year’s Pride celebrations.
Last year was a record breaker for inbound tourism to the UK with 37.3 million visits, up 3% on 2015 with visitors spending £22.2 billion, matching 2015’s record spend. The figures showed strong growth in 2016 from North America with 4.3 million visits, up 7% on 2015. Comparing growth during the last six years shows there were 7.5 million more visits in 2016 than 2010, an increase of 25%.
To mark the significant anniversary, cultural establishments in Great Britain – including the British Museum and the Tate – are featuring special exhibits and events commemorating the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Sexual Offences Act, which started decriminalizing homosexual acts in private between two men over the age of 21 in England and Wales. Similar legislation was passed in Scotland in 1980 and Northern Ireland in 1982.