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Stonewall was founded in 1989 by a small group of women and men who had been active in the struggle against Section 28 of the Local Government Act.
Section 28 was an offensive piece of legislation designed to prevent the so-called 'promotion' of homosexuality in schools; as well as stigmatising gay people it also galvanised the gay community.
The aim from the outset was to create a professional lobbying group that would prevent such attacks on lesbians, gay men and bisexuals from ever occurring again. Stonewall has subsequently put the case for equality on the mainstream political agenda by winning support within all the main political parties and now has offices in England, Scotland and Wales.
Stonewall is renowned for its campaigning and lobbying. Some major successes include helping achieve the equalisation of the age of consent, lifting the ban on lesbians and gay men serving in the military, securing legislation allowing same-sex couples to adopt and the repeal of Section 28. More recently Stonewall has helped secure civil partnerships and ensured the recent Equality Act protected lesbians and gay men in terms of goods and services.
Stonewall has an almost unique framework for a campaigning organisation in that individual stakeholders and donors are not ‘members’. This was part of the organisation’s original vision, in order to protect our capacity to be nimble both politically and operationally. Our Chief Executive has said: “We are not a ‘democratic’ organisation, in that we would never be satisfied to think that a position we took was based on the views of 51% of gay people, while 49% did not agree. We seek to develop all our work, and policy positions where appropriate, by building as wide a consensus as possible among lesbian, gay and bisexual people.”
Stonewall also works with a whole range of agencies to address the needs of lesbians, gay men and bisexuals in the wider community. Our Diversity Champions programme offers advice and support to over 600 organisations including IBM, Barclays, Barnardos, DCLG and the Royal Navy.
Stonewall's Education for All campaign, launched in January 2005, helps tackle homophobia and homophobic bullying in schools and works with a wide coalition of groups.
More recently Stonewall has formed partnerships with organisations outside Parliament to ensure the rights and needs of lesbians, gay men and bisexuals are addressed in the wider community.
Stonewall has also raised public awareness in terms of civil partnership, through our Get Hitched guide, and on the changes to the employment regulations relating to sexual orientation through guides for both employers and employees.
In addition Stonewall promotes new research on issues such as hate crime, lesbian health and homophobic bullying in schools.
Our offices in Scotland and Wales further our work across a range of activities and work alongside local projects to develop LGB communities.
On 23 September 2003 we were granted charitable status (Charity Registration Number 1101255).
Alongside this expansion, our highly professional staff team has grown and is sustained by a committed band of dedicated volunteers and thousands of individuals the length and breadth of the UK.
Stonewall receives no public funding and raises all its money itself in a range of ways including donations, sponsorship, and fundraising events.