As a local authority, we listen to our citizens about how our city can be more welcoming and inclusive. Rainbow City is first and foremost a celebration of our city’s commitment to the values of equality, diversity and inclusivity which aims, through a number of positive steps, to ensure that we treat all of our citizens with fairness, dignity and respect.
This commitment sets out our vision for what Rainbow City will achieve, why we are taking action now, what we will deliver and how we will keep Wolverhampton residents engaged throughout. The work of Rainbow City so far would not have been possible without input from our key partners. We would like to thank all those who responded to the Rainbow City consultation, as well as the City of Wolverhampton Council Rainbow Staff Equality Forum, Wolverhampton Business Improvement District (BID), Wolverhampton LGBT+, and Wolverhampton Homes. We look forward to continuing to work with them while developing new relationships with other partners as we collectively shape our Rainbow City.
Thousands of Wolverhampton people identify as LGBT+. While we don’t have an exact number, we can make estimates of this figure based on regional data from the Office of National Statistics.1 This estimates that 3.2% of the West Midland’s adult population (aged 16+) identify as either Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or ‘other’. This means that there are over 6,600 residents aged 16 and above who identify as LGBT+ in our city. The actual figure will be even higher, given that the official statistics do not include those aged below 16.
In the UK, there is no regular collection of data to estimate the number of individuals who identify as trans. While the Government Equalities Office estimates that there could be between 200,000 – 500,000 trans and non-binary individuals across the UK,2 we do not yet have a reliable estimate for how many trans individuals live in Wolverhampton. One of our Rainbow City commitments, which are presented later in this document, is to collect local data which will allow us to estimate this.
LGBT+ is an umbrella term used to describe an individual who identifies as either Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans, or for anyone that identifies within the wider boundaries of the LGBT Community. Some may use the term ‘LGBT’ while others may use the term ‘LGBTQ+’. Language is a powerful tool and is constantly evolving, which is why the Council uses Stonewall’s list of terms as a guide. Some of these definitions are listed below.
Lesbian refers to a woman who has a romantic and/or sexual orientation towards women. Some non-binary people may also identify with this term.
Gay refers to a man who has a romantic and/or sexual orientation towards men. Also used as a generic term for lesbian and gay sexuality - some women define themselves as gay rather than lesbian. Some non-binary people may also identify with this term.
Bi is an umbrella term used to describe a romantic and/or sexual orientation towards more than one gender. Bi people may describe themselves using one or more of a wide variety of terms, including (but not limited to) bisexual, pan, or queer.
Trans is an umbrella term to describe people whose gender identity is not the same as, or does not sit comfortably with, the sex they were assigned at birth. Trans people may describe themselves using one or more of a wide variety of terms, including (but not limited to) transgender, transsexual, gender-queer, gender-fluid, or non-binary.
Non-binary is an umbrella term for people whose gender identity doesn’t sit comfortably with ‘man’ or ‘woman’. Non-binary identities are varied and can include people who identify with some aspects of binary identities, while others reject them entirely.
Gender is often expressed in terms of masculinity and femininity. It is largely culturally determined and is assumed from the sex assigned at birth.
Sexual Orientation describes a person's sexual attraction to other people, or lack thereof. Along with romantic orientation, this forms a person's orientation identity.
Despite sexual orientation and gender reassignment being protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010, we know that many people from LGBT+ communities face unfair discrimination and harassment which has a huge detrimental impact on their health and wellbeing. The National LGBT Survey, led by the Government Equalities Office,1 found that:
LGBT+ people show lower satisfaction with their lives than the general population.
LGB people gave an average rating of 6.5 out of 10, while trans respondents gave an average rating of 5.4. For the general population, the average rating is 7.7.
A high proportion of LGBT+ people suffer from mental health issues.
1 in 4 survey respondents said that had experienced mental health issues in the 12 months prior to the survey, with evidence showing that anxiety, depression, self-harm, and suicide are more prevalent in LGBT+ communities.
LGBT+ individuals are more likely to be victims of hate crime, and this is often unreported.
Over 40% of respondents had suffered verbal harassment and/or physical violence because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity within the preceding 12 months.
Over 90% of these incidents went unreported because respondents felt that reporting would not make any difference.
Feedback collected during Wolverhampton’s ’s LGBT+ health conference in 2019 suggested that these national findings apply to city residents.2 Other feedback collected during this conference indicated that LGBT+ services were often difficult to find, and that there was a desire for the Council to strengthen its work with key city partners (including the NHS, local businesses, and charitable organisations) to champion LGBT+ rights across our city.
This was echoed by members of the Council’s internal Rainbow Staff Equality Forum, who worked with the Council’s senior leadership to identify steps that we could take to support LGBT+ residents, making Wolverhampton a more fair, equal, and diverse city. These initial ideas were shared through an online public consultation which ran from May to July 2021.
Rainbow City is a collective term for a series of initiatives that will celebrate and put into practice Wolverhampton’s commitment to being a fair, diverse, and inclusive city. While many of these initiatives are targeted towards supporting Wolverhampton’s LGBT+ communities; the benefits they will bring will be shared by all.
Key to Rainbow City’s success will be making the most of our strong working relationships with key city partners, including health providers, local businesses, charities, and community groups. Only through working together can we ensure that the voice of our city’s
LGBT+ communities are heard and that our Rainbow City actions are designed around their needs.
Rainbow City will see action taken ‘on the ground’ to make our city more welcoming to LGBT+ people: making it easier for them to find support services, providing them with more opportunities to improve their wellbeing, tackling hate crime, and increasing awareness of the challenges they can face. We are aiming to implement all of these changes by the end of 2025.
Our vision for a rainbow city:
- A city that is fair, equal, diverse and inclusive
- A city where everyone feels safe and free to be themselves
- A city with a dedicated offer to our growing LGBT+ community
- A city with a vibrant day and night life where all are welcome
- A city that celebrated its commitment to being fair and inclusive
Rainbow City aligns with and progresses multiple city priorities, including:
- the cross-cutting theme of ‘Fair and Inclusive’ is a key element of both our Relighting Our City coronavirus recovery commitment and our Council Plan.1 This commits to tackling any inequalities in our communities which impact on the opportunities of our local people.
- our commitment to building healthy, inclusive communities, as set out in our Council Plan
- our commitment to deliver inclusive, responsive, and accessible services that actively address inequality and exclusion in our city. This is a key priority area outlined in our most recent Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion Strategy, aiming to promote greater equality and community cohesion in the city.
- our commitment to building strong, resilient, and healthy communities, as set out in our Council Plan.
The delivery of Rainbow City will be delivered around five themes, which emerged through the responses we received during the Rainbow City consultation.
We will publish a Rainbow City Action Plan alongside this commitment document. This will provide details on the actions that we will deliver under each theme, as well projected timelines for each. An equalities impact analysis will be undertaken for all actions to make sure that any activity is fair and inclusive.
Our aim: A dedicated digital offer for Wolverhampton’s LGBT+ communities, serving as a single access point for information relating to LGBT+ themed city events, communications, and signposting to sources of support.
What we will do to achieve this:
- Create a dedicated Rainbow City website collecting dedicated information for Wolverhampton’s LGBT+ communities.
Our aim: A city whose public institutions celebrate diversity, working alongside a thriving LGBT+ voluntary and community sector that has access to meeting space and funding opportunities to host their own inclusive events.
What we will do to achieve this:
- Create a visual statement in the city centre that publicly exhibits the city’s commitment to inclusivity.
- Source a dedicated safe space for the city’s LGBT+ community groups to meet and grow.
- Produce a training and development offer for new and existing community groups, supporting them to develop sustainable operating models.
- Support the delivery of a series of inclusive events in the city.
- Launch training for local businesses on how they can support our LGBT+ communities.
- Embed a Rainbow City Charter into the Council’s procurement processes to ensure that our suppliers share our commitment to inclusivity in the city.
Our aim: A city where LGBT+ residents have equal access to services to support their mental and physical health needs. Residents can access these services free of any judgement or discrimination, and effective signposting is in place for any specific health services that are not available locally.
What we will do to achieve this:
- Perform a detailed health and wellbeing needs assessment of our city’s LGBT+ communities, providing a clearer picture of Wolverhampton’s LGBT+ communities and identifying what needs are not being met. We will use the findings from this to identify next steps for our Action Plan.
- Develop a yearly strategy for Health and Wellbeing campaigns, including topics that our LGBT+ communities tell us are important to them.
- Develop a dedicated offer for the trans+ community to reduce isolation.
Our aim: A city where everyone feels confident to be who they are without fear of judgement and abuse, where any discriminatory behaviour is challenged and actioned against.
What we will do to achieve this:
- Develop a training offer for local businesses and city partners to raise awareness of hate crime, including how to challenge it and report it, promoting community tolerance and cohesion.
- Work with our LGBT+ communities to identify any barriers to reporting hate crime in the city and take action to address these. For example, this could include strengthening and expanding existing hate crime reporting campaigns, or expanding the number of reporting centres in the city if required.
- Review the city’s current sanctuary provision and expand this if required.
- Launch a Rainbow City accreditation scheme for local businesses and organisations, recognising those that have undertaken inclusion training and show continued commitment to making their premises a safe space.
- Support and develop safety initiatives across the city, such as Ask Angela and Ask Marc.
Our aim: A city that actively promotes awareness of the challenges faced by its LGBT+ communities, providing accessible information for all residents who wish to find out more, and where professionals working with the LGBT+ community have access to appropriate training and development opportunities.
What we will do to achieve this:
- Support our city’s schools to embed the new curriculum for Relationships and Sexual Education, which includes positive portrayals of non-heteronormative relationships.
- Develop a training model to equip teachers with the necessary tools to meet the needs of trans children in primary and secondary schools.
- Launch a city-wide LGBT+ Ally training offer, accessible by anyone in the city who wishes to know more about the challenges faced by LGBT+ communities.
- Working with specialists, develop a training package that will be available to all public sector workers whose roles involve supporting LGBT+ individuals.
We are committed to measuring the success of all initiatives introduced as part of Rainbow City. Each action in our Rainbow City Action Plan will list specific measurables that will be regularly monitored to check that we are on track to meet our objectives.
Our findings will be shared with the people of Wolverhampton through our website, social media channels and via the Rainbow City Charter Network.