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CILIP LGBTQ+ x ILG Panel Event for LGBTQ+ History Month

On the 29th of February, the CILIP LGBTQ+ Network, in partnership with the Information Literacy Group, organised a panel event celebrating LGBTQ+ History month. The panel discussion provided an opportunity for speakers to highlight the role misinformation and disinformation played, and still plays a significant role in LGBTQ+ history and causes. Big changes in rights and legislation around LGBTQ+ people always come with their share of challenges around information and misinformation. Debate can become heavily political and heavily personal, with both sides of debates providing their share of propaganda.

The first speaker, Matt Akersten (he/him) joined the panel from Sydney to talk about his experience campaigning for Marriage Equality in 2017. Matt discussed the importance of spreading optimism as the most important part of the campaign and the power of stories to
create a long-lasting change of perception. In particular, Matt shared the tactics employed by the no campaign to polarise opinions, including the slogan “it’s ok to say no” legitimising opposition and tradition. Whilst emphasising the victory achieved in marriage equality being made legal, Matt also reminded the audience that the very next day, the no-campaign had shifted their focus on stigmatising and shaming the trans community. A stark reminder that the fight for equality is never truly won.

Beth Montague-Hellen (She/They), the chair of the CILIP LGBTQ+ Network talked aboutSection 28, a series of laws prohibiting the “promotion of homosexuality” by local authorities between 1988 and 2000 (Scotland)/2003 (England and Wales). Beth shared the
devastating effects of banning access to information about homosexuality and sexual health, leaving children, teenagers, and young adults to feeling stigmatised or confused. She also discussed the position of school and public librarians within Section 28 and gave examples of the banned material under the law.

Tom Doyle and Patrick Hands from Yorkshire MESMAC talked about the AIDS crisis, from its very beginning to present days. Misinformation and disinformation played a significant role in the AIDS crisis: spreading fear and shaming gay men especially. Tom and Patrick shared the history of Yorkshire MESMAC, one of the oldest and largest sexual health organisations in the country, providing services and treatment as well as a safe place for all including people of colour and other marginalised races, people misusing drugs, sex workers and LGBT+ young people and adults.

To catch up on the panel presentation, the full recording from this event is now available on our Youtube channel.

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