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It's a matter of Pride

Bruno Daniel 23 Jun 2023

RCN Diversity and Equalities Coordinator Bruno Daniel reflects on the importance of Pride month and the role of nursing staff in striving towards equality in their workplace and practice.

As we approach the end of Pride month 2023, I’ve been reflecting on why Pride is so important and how as a Royal College we can ensure conversations around LGBTQ+ inclusivity continue throughout the year.

This month we’ve seen rainbow flags and branding appear on everything from credit cards to crisps as corporations become more aware of the power of the ‘pink pound’. We have seen or even attended local Pride events, enjoying the music, atmosphere and outfits.

It can be easy to get caught up in the celebrations, but it’s important to acknowledge the history of Pride and that for many, the fight for equality goes on. 

Pride is a celebration of diversity - an opportunity for members of the LGBTQ+ community to show they’re not ashamed of who they are; it’s also a reminder to celebrate the battles that have been fought and won for LGBTQ+ rights and freedom of expression.

Pride, however, is also a protest. The first Pride events arose from the 1969 Stonewall riots, where patrons of the Stonewall Inn in New York took action to resist police harassment and brutality.

That spirit of protest lives on and mustn’t get lost amongst the celebrations of how far we've come. There are still battles to fight, both here and abroad. As our government attempts to revise legislation on gender identity, many members of the LGBTQ+ community fear a ‘section 28 for trans people’- a return to legislation which prevents young people from being taught about LGBTQ+ issues. Meanwhile, the anti-trans rhetoric continues to intensify.

Nursing staff might ask what any of this has to do with them. Nursing is a compassionate and empathetic profession, which treats all patients with dignity and respect. I’m often asked if we really need Equalities Managers in NHS trusts and unconscious bias training.

My answer to this is a firm ‘yes’. Nursing staff accept, without debate, the need for CPD. They understand that medicine, research and clinical best practice are constantly evolving. The same is true for matters of equality and diversity.

None of us can be an expert on another person’s identity or lived experience. Equalities training simply aims to give us a glimpse into each other’s worlds and equips us with the tools we need to navigate the social complexities which make life beautiful and interesting.

As a profession, it is vital that nursing keeps abreast of these developments to ensure that nursing staff can deliver the best patient-centred care possible. This results in better clinical outcomes for patients and more welcoming workplaces for staff.

This is why the RCN has a proud history of campaigning on LGBTQ+ rights that continues today. At RCN Congress last year, our members voted overwhelmingly for us to support a full ban on LGBTQ+ conversion therapy. Congress heard how such so-called ‘therapy’ goes against any evidence-based nursing practice and that trying to forcibly change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity is tantamount to torture.

Five years since the UK government promised to outlaw this practice, we’re still waiting for the promised bill to come to parliament. When it does arrive, we’ll be calling on parliamentarians to legislate for a fully inclusive ban on conversion therapy that protects all LGBTQ+ people in England.

The Scottish government has already committed to publishing a bill, and the Welsh government is exploring how it can ban these practices within the confines of the existing devolution settlement.
As an organisation representing over half a million members, we believe that nursing is uniquely placed to lead on matters of diversity and inclusion. We also know these issues are important to you, our members, and I’ve been proud to see so many motions relating to equality come through RCN Congress in recent years.

As Pride month ends, it’s important to look back with joy and pride on the recent festivities, but also re-double our commitment to striving for equality, always. 
You can find resources to help you do this on our Pride in Nursing webpage

Got a question? Drop Bruno an email.


Bruno Daniel

RCN Diversity and Equalities Co-ordinator

Page last updated - 19/04/2024