News



First LGBT+ Retirement Community

LGBT+ Retirement

Tonic is to become the UK’s first LGBT+ retirement community having been given approval to open in 2021 after securing a £5.7m loan from the Mayor of London. 

This support from the GLA Community Housing Fund will enable Tonic to purchase nineteen properties at Bankhouse, a One Housing purpose-built extra care scheme in Lambeth.

Tonic Housing will become the UK’s first provider of LGBT+ affirmative housing, with sales for one and two-bedroom shared ownership homes due to begin later in the Spring of 2021. 

This is a major milestone for LGBT+ housing as there is no LGBT+ affirming provision with care currently in operation in the UK, despite there being a clearly defined need and demand from within the LGBT+ community.

Opening of Soho

Soho Society

Westminster City Council announced on 23 February 2020 that it will close fourteen streets (including Old Compton, Dean, Greek and Frith Streets) to vehicles, and grant licences for the sale of alcohol in the street until 11 p.m. 7 days a week.

This will allow drinking and dining Monday to Sunday from 12 April to 30 September 2021.

The House of St Barnabas

The House of St Barnabas is one of the Forum's partners but during the Covid-19 pandemic they have experienced the retreat of essential Services, with GP appointments scarce, housing and benefits departments scaled back, and foodbanks overwhelmed. Their graduates have experienced sudden job losses, furlough on insecure income and anxiety about losing their homes.

House of St Barnabas

They have seen the digital divide get much wider and deeper overnight. Digital has become the only way of accessing services at times and friends, family and even pub quizzes quickly moved online.

However, they need help to continue their vital work in breaking the cycle of homelessness, following the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. The relationship between secure work and homelessness has never been more apparent.
See how you can help them.

Re-booting the Arts

Re-booting arts

Much attention has been directed towards the hospitality sector, and rightly so given its paramount importance to the whole of Central London. 

The businesses the bars and eateries serve however, have been very much engaged in their own day-to-day struggle for survival. Read More

Plan to end new HIV cases by 2030

HIV Commission

Dame Inga Beale, chair of the HIV Commission and Michael Gove MP, minister for the Cabinet Office.

Senior government ministers have backed a plan developed by an independent group, the HIV Commission, to eliminate HIV transmission in England over the next decade.

At a launch event on 1 December 2020, Health Secretary Matt Hancock committed to reducing new cases by 80% by 2025 and to less than 100% a year by 2030. He claims that these goals are achievable.

London's Rainbow Crossings

Rainbow Crossing

Rainbow Crossings have been popping up all over London's roads over the last two years as a way to celebrate LGBT+ residents, workers, and visitors.

With Pride Month and the lost Pride season of 2020 long over, the London LGBT Forums Network have been researching which London Boroughs and Authorities have installed the crossings and where.

Since 2018:

  • Fifteen London Boroughs have installed rainbow crossings.
  • Twelve of those Local Authorities are Labour, three are Liberal Democrats and two are Conservative. The Westminster crossing laid in 2019 was done in partnership with the Mayor of London and Pride in London.
  • Eleven are a permanent fixture.
  • Four were temporary, usually to mark Pride Month.

Read the Full Results

Westminster Licencing Policy Review

Westminster Council has recently held a review of its Licencing and Cumulative Impact Policies which it has to do every five years.

The Licencing Policy sets out what businesses can or cannot do within the policies area. A cumulative Impact Area (CIA) then states how many businesses can operate within the geographical boundaries and adjacent vicinity of this.

Westminster, especially key parts of the west end, have been home and a safe space for LGBT+ people for a very long time. The LGBT+ scene, shops and spaces are all community spaces where all who live, work, and socialise can go to meet, socialise, or have a rest in a space which was made for them.

The issue with Licencing and especially Cumulative Impact Policies is that they are a blanket rule which is applied to an area and in their generic nature do not always empower minority spaces to adapt, survive or to start up. This is due to their applications being judged as adding to the Cumulative Impact which would see their applications being blocked or reviewed at a hearing which attracts large legal fees, which smaller independent spaces would not be able to pay.

This would result in new LGBT+ spaces having a barrier to opening and existing LGBT+ spaces having extra costs and challenges in times when Westminster has seen a huge decline in these community spaces.

The consultation ran from 12 October to 15 November 2020 which was during COVID-19 and a lockdown period when many LGBT+ communities were not around to be aware or have sufficient time to review this consultation. As such the consultation should be extended to ensure sufficient engagement.

Recommendations:

  1. Review Westminster's nightlife and twenty-four- hour vision to match this with the requirements of LGBT+ stakeholders and ensure a solid foundation for the licensing review.
  2. To review and assess the current licencing policies which are up for review and advise on what the outcomes would be if that policy were put in place and their impact on the LGBT+ communities.
  3. To review and assess the current CIA policy which is up for review and advise on what the outcomes would be if that policy were put in place and their impact on the LGBT+ communities.
  4. Draw up recommendations and a plan with LGBT+ communities on bespoke licensing policies for the area to help current and future LGBT+ spaces, such as multiple Cumulative Impact areas, issues with current policy and ways around them to empower the LGBT+ communities to survive and evolve.

Concerns Over Future of Admiral Duncan

Admiral Duncan Soho

The Admiral Duncan in Soho, the site of a 1999 nail bombing, has been called "A memorial that must be retained" but its future is in question.

Several gay bars in Soho are to remain closed until Covid-19 restrictions are eased, as its parent company 'rebases' its business. See Attitude for the full story.

Trans Hate Crime Statistics

As part of Trans Day of Remembrance 2020, the London LGBT Forums Network and the Met LGBT Independent Advisory Group have published an article about the Met's recent decision to publish Trans Hate Crime statistics to the community for the first time.

Whilst we welcome this move from the Met and celebrate that it is a win for the community, we also remember that hate crime is a serious matter affecting many lives.

The Trans Hate Crime Report by Galop shows that:

  • 4 in 5 respondents had experienced a form of transphobic hate crime
  • 1 in 4 had experienced transphobic physical assault or the threat of physical assault
  • Nearly 1 in 5 had experienced transphobic sexual assault or the threat of sexual assault

The Battle for Covent Garden

Covent Gardn battle

A video made by Year 6 of St Clement Danes Primary School with digital:works. 

The video is 25 minutes long and interviews some familiar Covent Garden faces about the history of the area. It also includes some original photos and videos of Covent Garden through the decades.

London's Road to Recovery

Over the summer, Talk London asked you to help them shape the missions to London’s recovery. They were keen to find out what these missions meant to you and your community, whether anything critical was missing and who should play a role in achieving each mission.

Your views helped the Recovery Team to refine their missions ahead of the London Recovery Board meeting on 15 September. The Board were deeply grateful for the extensive engagement and your comments on our discussions.

See how you made all the difference.

From Here to Eternity

Sunil Gupta has been using photography as a critical practice since the 1970s.

Here to Eternity

Subversive, impulsive, personal, and political, Gupta's socially engaged projects have focused on issues such as family, race, migration and the complexities and taboos of sexuality and homosexual life.

His work has been an inspiration for generations of photographic activists and LGBTQ+ rights campaigners.

His book From Here to Eternity traces Sunil Gupta’s life through his personal archive: the snapshots, postcards, letters, posters, and news clippings collected during his long career in photography and activism. See Autograph for further details and how to purchase this inspiring book investigates the question What does it mean to be a gay Indian man?

Public Art Sculpture Commemorating AIDS

After working closely with Ash Kotak of AIDS Memory UK, our West End Councillors and Simon Buckley, rector of St Anne's Church, the Westminster LGBT Forum is pleased to announce that a memorial sculpture commemorating forty years of AIDs is proposed for Soho. If planning permission is granted, it will be erected in the Garden of St Anne's Church as part of its National tour of the UK.

This innovative sculpture called ‘The Tree of Resilience, Resistance & Resonance’ is designed by British art/fashion duo Bert Gilbert and Izzet Ers (The Sinistry) and cast from solid bronze. It is red in colour and looks like a cross between a tree and a totem pole. It stands 3.5 metres high with a hollowed-out trunk containing a bell that can be rung.

Etched on the outside of the trunk are the names of people who have died of AIDs, revealing a gold centre underneath its bark. The trunk stands on seven roots and has seven branches splitting into a further twenty-two smaller branches each with an eye inscribed at its end. These are significant numbers in relation to Sufism and the Kabbalistic Tree of Life

St Anne's Soho

If approved, this beautiful sculpture will be placed in St Anne’s gardens from 1 August to 3 December 2021, giving everyone the opportunity to visit this consecrated and peaceful place in the heart of Soho, and reflect on the impact that the AIDs virus had, and still has, on our community. 

We hope it will raise awareness of the stigma most people suffering from HIV experience and inspire hope and understanding.

The design of the tree will be translated into hologram form and projected onto public sites around the country to stimulate general awareness about HIV and promote the support networks available.

This project will be launched on World AIDS Day via Zoom on 1 December 2020. Watch this space for further information.

Soho Mosque Application

Muslim gay flag

Westminster LGBT Forum was happy to support the proposal from the Aziz Foundation for a Mosque at the Trocadero in Piccadilly. If this application had been successful we would have welcomed them and their organisation to Soho, the heart of London’s LGBT+ community.

The application was later withdrawn but we would have been very happy to work with the Aziz Foundation to promote acceptance, respect, and tolerance across all of Soho’s diverse and wonderful communities.

Soho has a proud and historic tradition of accepting and welcoming people of all kinds from all over the world, and its communities are open minded and tolerant of all religions. We believed this proposal was very much in keeping with that tradition, and would have helped support Muslims living, working and visiting our very unique part of Westminster where they are currently poorly served.

Soho is the ‘Jewel in the Crown’ of London’s LGBT+ Community. Not only is it the biggest and one of the most popular LGBT+ locations in the UK, it is also recognised as one of the top LGBT+ destinations globally.

Both of our communities contribute to Soho’s fabric, financially, artistically, culturally, and spiritually. Our Forum is an open community organisation, welcoming people of all faiths and none.