Each February we mark LGBTQ+ history month. It is a chance to celebrate and commemorate the contribution LGBTQ+ people have made to our communities and our country. To shine a spotlight on and rightly recognise the rich history, lives and experiences of LGBTQ+ people, to reflect on how far we have come and to redouble our efforts towards greater equality.

We can be proud of the progress that’s been made in the struggle for LGBTQ+ equality – from action to prohibit discrimination in goods and services, to the end of the pernicious Section 28 and equal marriage. In Wales alone, we are embedding LGBTQ+ inclusive education as part of the new curriculum. We have established a gender identity service to help our trans family be their true selves. We became the first nation in the UK to offer PReP free on the NHS. And we are well on the way to developing a ground breaking LGBTQ+ Action Plan.

The freedoms and rights that we have today, were hard fought for and hard won. But they are part of our relatively recent history. Within my lifetime alone. we could be fired, we couldn’t be ourselves and serve our country, we couldn’t be mentioned in classrooms, we were dismissed as a lifestyle choice, a curable disease, an abomination to religion.

Despite the progress we have made, we also know the sad truth that hate crime is on the rise. The statistics show a 16% increase in recorded hate crimes across Wales compared to 2019/2020. 19% were sexual orientation hate crimes. 4% were transgender hate crimes. The horrific consequences of hate crime have really been brought home in recent reports of a tragic and terrible incident that took place in the heart of our capital city.

It is time we made hate, prejudice and fear history. It is time to move forward in common cause to create the more equal, just and inclusive Wales we all want to see. During LGBTQ+ History month we pay tribute to the trailblazers – the activists and the allies, the campaigners and the change makers, those who have lived through it and those whose lives have been cut far too short. Thank you. And to everyone who continues to blaze that trail and every LGBTQ+ person in Wales – you are amazing, you are valued and you are making a difference.

Thanks to the residents and Councillors in Holywell reporting anti-social behaviour in the town, the police have now been able to work with others to deal with the issues. This has allowed the police to identify and engage with those acting in this way, which will hopefully bring an end to the disruption and stress which this is causing the community.

I will of course continue to work with the police, Councillors and the wider community to not just tackle the issues but ensure that there are opportunities for our children and young people to engage in positively.

At the end of this week I’ll be joining with others to encourage conversations about two topics which will affect almost everyone of us in some shape or way – mental health and cancer.

Thursday is Time To Talk Day – a huge campaign to encourage people to talk about and normalise mental health. We all think and feel differently, particularly in response to different events in our lives, but the key message we need to share is that it is ok to not be ok and to reach out for support. Please reach out to a friend to see how they are and to let them know that you are there for them if they need you.

Cancer is something which will sadly touch our lives at some point, whether us as individuals, friends or loved ones. I regularly join with the various charities who promote the need for each of us to look after our health and know the signs, so we can hopefully prevent further lives from being lost to this cruel disease. Getting even the slightest change in our bodies or the way we feel checked, could help save a life.

Thank you to everyone who gives up their times to share their stories to encourage others either to talk about how they’re feeling, or to encourage them to get their health checked regularly.

If you have an issue you’d like to speak to me about,  please get in touch and I will do my best to help.

You can drop me a line by emailing Hannah.blythyn@senedd.wales or get in touch by using the contact form on my website: www.hannahblythyn.cymru/contact.

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