Equality ambitions outlined at inaugural Wolfenden Lecture
Release Date 15 May 2017
An LGBT+ ambassador praised the University of Reading for its proactive and inclusive approach to promoting equality, as she delivered the first ever lecture held to commemorate a landmark report in LGBT+ history.
Ruth Hunt, Chief Executive of LGBT+ charity Stonewall, delivered the inaugural Wolfenden Lecture in the Van Emden Theatre on the University’s Whiteknights Campus on 4 May, held to celebrate the University’s role in publishing the Wolfenden Report 60 years ago. The report led to the decriminalisation of homosexuality 10 years later in 1967.
The 1957 Wolfenden Report was the result of the work of a committee led by Lord John Wolfenden, who was Vice-Chancellor of the University from 1950-64. The Home Office committee reviewed homosexuality and prostitution laws.
In a frank presentation, entitled ‘LGBT equality: past present and future’, Ms Hunt recalled personal experiences of prejudice towards the LGBT+ community and highlighted shortcomings in the support offered to minority groups by authorities in the past. She called for action by employers to promote equality and acceptance and encouraged attendees to challenge homophobia and racism if they witness it in the workplace.
Watch Ruth Hunt reflect on the importance of the Wolfenden Report in LGBT+ history in our videos:
Ruth on changing attitudes towards the LGBT+ community
Ruth on the role of universities in promoting LGBT+ equality
Ruth on the importance of the Wolfenden Lecture
Ruth on remembering the Wolfenden Report 60 years on
Ruth on the impact the Wolfenden Report had
The inaugural lecture was preceded by a seminar, entitled ‘Before and After Wolfenden: LGBTQ+ History and Reading’, in which research exploring Reading’s LGBT+ history was presented by University academics and representatives from LGBT+ charity Support U.
The Wolfenden Lecture will become an annual occurrence, and is just one of a series of events at the University of Reading held to celebrate LGBT+ identity and help give everyone the confidence to be who they are without fear.
Funding will help tell Wolfenden story
The University was part of a Heritage Lottery Fund bid that received £77,200 earlier this year to tell the story of the Wolfenden Report on its anniversary. The bid was led by Support U and supported by Reading Museum.
Events were held to mark International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBiT) 2017, including an information session for staff on becoming an LGBT+ Ally and Trans Awareness Training for staff and students. The annual flag-raising and speeches is still to come on Wednesday 17 May – IDAHOBiT Day.
“We are proud of the place in LGBT+ history of our former Vice-Chancellor, Lord Wolfenden" - Professor Simon Chandler-Wilde, Dean for Diversity and Inclusion, University of Reading
Lord Wolfenden’s archives are held at the University and will be used to create an exhibition and events programme this autumn.
The University is funding up to eight places on the Stonewall LGBT Role Models Programme over the next 12 months. This programme gives individuals the opportunity to explore the skills needed to be a role model and create an inclusive environment for others.
For more details of all the above events see www.reading.ac.uk/diversity/diversity-events-news.aspx
Professor Simon Chandler-Wilde, Dean for Diversity and Inclusion at the University of Reading, said: “By holding the first ever Wolfenden Lecture, we at the University of Reading want to be loud and clear that LGBT+ identity is to be celebrated.
“We are proud of the place in LGBT+ history of our former Vice-Chancellor, Lord Wolfenden, whose Wolfenden Report led to the end of the criminalisation of homosexuality. Through this lecture and seminar, and the series of events we have lined up to support our staff and students and make an inclusive university environment part of our values, we hope to continue the work he started.”