This year’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) History Month theme is ‘Religion, Belief and Philosophy: A Leap of Faith’ , and the month closes with a debate on ‘Faith and the LGBT Community in 2016′ at the Council House today. Organised by SHOUT Festival (a project of Birmingham LGBT) and Birmingham City Council’s LGBT Employees & Allies Network, the multi-faith panel  will consider the question ‘Faith and the LGBT community in 2016 – where are we now and what next?’.  A pre-event reception will begin at 6pm and the debate starts at 6.30pm.

The event is funded by LGBT History Month and Awards for All, and chaired by Polly Goodwin, Partner at Merida Associates and co-organiser of the first Birmingham Pride.  On the multi-faith panel are:

  • Revd Stephen Bentley MA FCA – The Ordained Minister of Journey Metropolitan Church, based at St Paul’s Church in the Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham
  • Rabbi Dr Margaret Jacobi – Rabbi of Birmingham Progressive Synagogue
  • Rose Neelam – Faith Communities Officer for UK Black Pride and previously director of Safra Project working on issues relating to Muslim LBTQ women
  • Khakan Qureshi – Founder, Finding a Voice, Birmingham South Asian LGBT Group
  • Steffan Zachiyah – Birmingham based film-maker who challenges audiences to think beyond that the media presents us.  Recently starred in a documentary called Transgender: Back to Jamaica

Ian Hyde, Development Officer for the SHOUT Festival, said “We are really proud to be working in partnership with Birmingham City Council on this event which we hope will become a catalyst for open conversations about faith and the LGBT community.”

Birmingham City Council’s cabinet member for Inclusion and Community Safety, Cllr Shafique Shah, added: “The annual LGBT History Month highlights the huge contribution that members of the LGBT community play in all walks of life.  This year’s theme of religion, belief and philosophy reminds us that members of the LGBT community are often members of religious communities too.  I welcome the multi-faith debate here at the Council House which will be insightful and thought provoking.”

LGBT History Month started in schools 11 years ago by campaign group Schools OUT and is now celebrated everywhere – from councils to care settings, unions, museums, libraries, theatres, religious institutions, colleges and universities.

Each year has a theme to link to the national schools’ curriculum – with previous years including Sport, Science Maths & Engineering, Music, and History.

The Equality Act says we must ‘foster good relations between the protected characteristics’ and three of these characteristics are: gender reassignment; religion and belief; and sexual orientation. So, by celebrating LGBT History Month, we are demonstrating a commitment to turning these words into reality.