Former Lord Mayor, Gary Millar, insists there is still work to do when tackling discrimination against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.
Millar, who was the first openly gay lord mayor, was commended last month for his role in making a difference for LGBT people in business, when he was ranked 16th in The Telegraph’s list of the top 50 LGBT executives.
Speaking to JMU Journalism during LGBT History Month, he said: “Discrimination and ignorance still exists and although I personally believe it’s from a minority of people, it still has a major impact on those affected.”
Despite this, he believes that the work of Liverpool’s LGBT community with both national and local organisations is making a real difference.
He said: “Ten years ago we would not have had an out Lord Mayor and Consort, ten years ago The Telegraph would not have published an LGBT list and ten years ago you would not have seen football clubs, police and fire officers walking in a Pride March however there is still work to do.”
Millar is now the Chairman of The Michael Causer Foundation, a charity that supports victims of hate crime. He made clear that he supports diversity as a whole and not just within the LGBT community.
“I think we should all just be ourselves, no matter our colour, our ability, our sexuality, our faith – none of that should matter to anybody except from you and your friends,” he said.
“Let’s accept us for who we are by being good people, being helpful, trying to make a difference and being positive. We shouldn’t be recognised by our sexuality, we should be recognised by what we can do and how we do it.”
The former lord mayor said he believes that schools play the biggest role in changing perceptions of diversity “when they are trying their very best”.
He added: “We are seeing more and more of where people are saying: ‘You know what, it’s okay to be different, you are equal to us and we have no right to tell you you’re different to us.’ And it’s happening in primary schools – that’s the best place.”