‘We need spaces that aren’t related to drink’

Diane Abbott lends support to London LGBTQ+ Community Centre: 'We need spaces that aren't related to drink'

Diane Abbott at last night’s announcement of the London LGBTQ+ Community Centre | Photos: By Egle Trezzi

Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott has thrown her support behind a newly-announced LGBTI community center concept for Hackney, London.

According to organizers, the campaign aims to ‘create a visible and open, multi-functional space for the LGBTQ+ community. Something which the capital, unlike many cities in the UK and across the world, currently lacks.’

The British Labour Party MP told Gay Star News at last night’s announcement event: ‘I wholeheartedly support the London LGBTQ+ Community Centre. We need LGBTQ+ spaces that aren’t related to drink.’

Project members have furthermore said that the center aims to be a ‘completely accessible multi-purpose space, open from morning until night for individuals, the community, and campaigning groups. The space aims to serve as a cafe, meeting point, workspace, play space and social centre and aims to have facilities for performance, exhibition, information and outreach.’

Last night’s event at The Hackney Showroom also saw the launch of the project’s website and Crowdfunder campaign.

The team say they need to raise £50,000 ($70,951, €57,367) from the international LGBTI community to get the project off the ground.

Higher rates of mental illness and drink and drug abuse among LGBTIs as a result of social prejudice was a talking point throughout the evening, as well as the need for spaces for LGBTIs not primarily related to alcohol.

A 2016 study by the LGBT Foundation found that drug use among LGBTI people is seven times higher than the general population. It also found that binge drinking is twice as common among gay and bisexual men, with substance abuse significantly higher.

‘We would love it to be a vast space with lots of different areas, services and groups’

Josh Willacy [above, left], one of the founders of the project, told Gay Star News: ‘I think the timeframe on this project will ultimately be determined by external factors. We need to secure a space. That will be critical in making this a reality. But to do that we’re going to need so much support.’

He furthermore added: ‘We want somewhere where people can actually feel like they’re able to be themselves. We want somewhere that’s truly accessible and inclusive. We want it to be somewhere where people can just exhale and just be.’

He also said: ‘We would love it to be a vast space with lots of different areas, services and groups. But at its core, the most important thing is the people who will be in that space and the support they give each other.’

‘I’ve lived to see a Tory Prime Minister take through equal marriage’

Abbott, who is an MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, spoke publicly at the event.

She told attendees: ‘When I first joined the Labour Party, you couldn’t win a vote on LGBTQ+ rights. I’ve lived to see a Tory Prime Minister take through equal marriage. That is a testimony to the campaigning and the struggle of the people in this room. But, there is still more to do.’

She furthermore added: ‘Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party, has asked me to pass on his good wishes on to all of you.

‘I look forward to when the project opens, because it will represent a tremendous forward advance. Not just for the LGBTQ+ community, but it will be an enormous forward advance for the community as a whole.’

Another speaker included London-based LGBTI activist Jason Jones [above], who last week saw his wish for the decriminalization of homosexuality in his home country Trinidad and Tobago come true.

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