February 1st heralds the beginning of LGBT history month, an annual month-long observance of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender history and the history of gay rights and the associated civil rights movement.
It is also marks the opening of the application process for the 2022 North West LGBTQ+ Business Awards, started last year in 2021 by Merseyside businessman Drew Cockton as a celebration of the community in business and commerce.
15 prizes are up for grabs in categories including ‘Best New Business’, ‘Young Business Person of the Year’ and ‘LGBTQ+ Ally Award’ with companies large and small being encouraged to enter.
“Last year we celebrated the contributions of a wide variety of LGBTQ+ owned and allied businesses, from one man bands to larger, more established companies” Cockton explained. “After a dreadful 12 month following on from the coronavirus pandemic, it felt good to celebrate the wins of our regions SMEs and give thanks to their contributions in making the North West such a great place to live. We also raised funds for the Albert Kennedy Trust which supports young LGBTQ+ people who have been made homeless by their families”.
In addition to celebrating the accomplishments of the LGBTQ+ community in business, Cockton explained that the awards were also intended to send a clear message that prejudice and intolerance should not be tolerated and must be challenged wherever encountered. The 2021 awards followed in the autumn after an unfortunate spate of homophobic attacks in Liverpool in the summer, violence which was met with widespread condemnation by locals.
Cockton argues that whilst great progress has been made, there is still much to be done and points to worrying statistics in a 2019 Stonewall report which states that 1 in 5 LGBTQ+ people had experienced a hate crime or incident because of their sexuality or gender identity and that alarmingly, some 40% of those identifying as trans had been a victim of an incident.
Businesses large and small are being invited to enter the 2022 North West LGBTQ+ Business Awards for free. The awards are set to take place later this year at The Titanic Hotel in Liverpool with a lavish ceremony attended by 500 guests. For more information, please see www.LGBTQBusinessAwards.com