The friendliest country in Europe, where your workplace, school, home, and health services are safe places, free from discrimination and protected in law; a nation where 'nobody is left behind’ - this is the Welsh Government’s ambition for LGBT+ people living in Wales.

But can it ever be a reality?

As I celebrate Pride this month, I will do so with a tinge of sadness, remembering that though the Welsh government's ambition is a beautiful one, it is not currently possible.

The responses at the debate in the UK Parliament on recognition for non-binary identities highlighted how far apart the Senedd and Westminster are in their attitude towards LGBT+ protections. So, can Wales ever become a sanctuary for this community when it remains in a union that regularly delivers a Conservative government that does not share its values? Or the values of the Welsh people?

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Just two months ago, the UK government announced that it would ban conversion therapy for gay or bisexual people but not for transgender people.

Hannah Blythyn MS rightly pointed out the hypocrisy of this policy, which was initially promised to protect everyone. She stated that the Welsh Government would do all they could with the devolved powers they have to ensure all the LGBT+ community were protected.

We, in the LGBT+ community, know this is not and will never be enough.

Constitutionally, Wales does not have the powers to offer the rights and protection to our community that they say they want to offer. Our current state of Devolution is not enough.

‘Using all the powers it has’ is a phrase often stuck right before a policy the Welsh Government put forward that they know the Tories in Westminster will squash.

Even more heartbreaking is that these are often the policies that have the most potential to transform lives in Wales. With the Tories continuously showing they have no intention to protect LGBT+ people, it is no longer good enough for the Welsh Government to do ‘what it can’, watering down policies to the point of no effect.

Progress has been made; the Welsh Government has introduced LGBT+ inclusive education, established gender identity services, and became the first UK nation to offer an anti-HIV drug on the NHS.

We know from polling data that the people of Wales have a more positive attitude towards LGBT+ people and its consistency in voting for a Labour government points in the direction that Wales is ready to fulfil its potential of becoming a sanctuary for LGBT+ people (& more).

The National Wales: Bria de la Mare is a : Labour for an Independent Wales committee memberBria de la Mare is a : Labour for an Independent Wales committee member

When a nation chooses to protect some of its most vulnerable members, it is rarely in isolation. Addressing the disparities in LGBT+ access to healthcare is not possible without considering the barriers those living in deprived areas face. Ensuring our workplaces and schools are safer and friendlier spaces not only helps LGBT+ people but all, including disabled, neurodivergent, and ethnic minorities.

Extended protection for LGBT+ people is a move that will benefit all that live in Wales. It signals to the rest of the world that Wales is serious about taking care of the most fragile members of society.

The Welsh Government admit that more needs to be done, and their bold policy ideas need the appropriate powers to enact. With the rights of LGBT+ people being questioned by the Conservatives in Westminster, now is not the time to be turning to the UK government for permission to secure that safety for the people of Wales.

As you celebrate Pride this month, do so knowing that Wales is showing the potential to be the friendliest place in Europe for LGBT+ people. Life here is sweeter under our current Welsh Government, but it could be sweeter still.

When the country becomes free from Westminster, free to be precisely who it wants to be, LGBT+ people will have a chance at La Dolce Vita, and everyone will benefit.

Bria de la Mare is a Labour for an Independent Wales committee member.

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