UK gay forum seeks community role
November 11, 2004
LONDON — A new forum is seeking to give gay people in south Wales a stronger voice in tackling issues which affect their lives.
The Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Community Forum wants to unite organisations, agencies and members of the public.
A measure of the difficulties that face gay people is shown by the fact the meeting venue was not advertised.
Organisers say it is to prevent homophobic attacks or abuse and ensure people attending feel safe.
As we get more visible as a population, we get attract more attention, so there can be positives and negatives to that
The meeting took place in Cardiff on Monday evening and was addressed by Cardiff council leader, Rodney Berman and Stonewall Scotland director Ali Jarvis.
According to David Lynch from the Terence Higgins Trust (THT) Cymru, which hosted the meeting with the Rainbow Project South Wales, it is common practice not to widely publicise meeting venues for safety reasons.
"As we get more visible as a population, we get attract more attention, so there can be positives and negatives to that," he said.
"There is no real monitoring of the incidents and this is why we're trying to improve relationships with the police because we know people don't report attacks."
He told BBC Wales news website the forum was the first time a local response to gay people's concerns had been co-ordinated.
Cardiff has the most visible lesbian and gay population in Wales and yet we are rarely included in mainstream agendas when it comes to addressing inequalities
"We're suggesting three things. Initially, it's about bringing people together to identify agendas, regardless of organisational missions, whether it's a health remit, local community groups, the police.
"So how can we work together collaboratively. It seems obvious, but its never happened before," he said.
"Given that Cardiff is the capital of Wales and a modern city, it's staggering it hasn't happened before."
He said the second aim was to fundraise for a specific community project, such as a community gay magazine, and get people to identify what other projects would make a difference to their lives locally.
The third was to create a "representative voice" on the inequalities experienced by lesbian and gay people.
A recent report from gay rights group Stonewall Cymru, found lesbian, gay and bisexual people made up seven per cent of the population of Wales, yet their needs often remained invisible, according to Rainbow Project chair Tim Heywood.
He said: "Cardiff has the most visible lesbian and gay population in Wales and yet we are rarely included in mainstream agendas when it comes to addressing inequalities."
He added that the forum gave lesbian and gay citizens the opportunity to have a voice and develop networks.
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