Making LGBTQ life better

This page is dedicated to an extraordinary person who has been trying to be ordinary. You know who you are....

This Government is committed to making the UK a country that works for everyone. We want to strip away the barriers that hold people back so that everyone can go as far as their hard work and talent can take them.

The UK today is a diverse and tolerant society. We have made great strides in recent decades to support lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, who make a vital contribution to our culture and to our economy.

This Government has a proud record in advancing equality for LGBT people. From changing the law to allow same-sex couples to marry to introducing the world’s first transgender action plan in 2011, we have been at the forefront of change. The UK has consistently been recognised as one of the best countries for LGBT rights in Europe.


Yet despite these advances, we know that LGBT people continue to face significant barriers to full participation in public life. The LGBT survey that I have published today demonstrates this clearly. The survey, the largest national ever of LGBT people conducted in the world to date, substantially improves our understanding of the barriers that hold LGBT back. It also serves as a call to action.

One statistic alone speaks volumes. Two-thirds of respondents said they had avoided holding their same-sex partner’s hand in public for fear of a negative reaction. Holding hands with someone you love should be one of the simplest things in the world; not a source of fear or hesitation. There were difficult findings in other areas, such as safety, health, education and employment. We have more work to do.

That is why I am pleased that one of my first acts as the new Minister for Women and Equalities is to publish this comprehensive LGBT Action Plan. With over 75 commitments, the cross-Government plan sets out how we will improve the lives of LGBT people over the course of this Parliament. Some of the key actions include:

  • appointing a national LGBT health adviser to provide leadership on reducing the health inequalities that LGBT people face
  • extending the anti-homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying programme in schools
  • bringing forward proposals to end the practice of conversion therapy in the UK
  • taking further action on LGBT hate crime – improving the recording and reporting of, and police response to, hate crime

As a Stonewall Straight Ally, I have been proud to stand up for LGBT people and I was delighted to be appointed as Minister for Women and Equalities so that I could play a greater role in this agenda. I am determined to help make the UK a country that works for LGBT people because no matter what your gender identity or sexual orientation is, you should be able to reach your full potential.

Rt. Hon. Penny Mordaunt Minister for Women and Equalities

Please visit the following website for more information:


Help and advice about coming out as lesbian, gay, bi and/or trans for adults


What is 'coming out'?

Telling people about your sexual orientation or gender identity is called coming out. Coming out is not necessarily a one-off event - lesbian, gay, bi and trans (LGBT) people may have to come out many times during their lives. It's also very individual and people may face different challenges when coming out. 

There is no one prescribed way to come out. You may feel comfortable being open about your sexual orientation and gender identity with some people, but not with others. Coming out may be difficult and takes courage. Reactions to someone coming out can range from very positive to less welcoming. Once you have made the decision to tell people, you may want to think about how you tell them. We have set out a few thoughts on coming out, and links to where you can find further advice and support.

Why come out?

Whether you've come to terms with your sexual orientation or gender identity, or you're still thinking about it, it can be difficult dealing with that on your own. You may get to a point where you need to talk about it with someone, to get support or simply get it off your chest. To hide who you are from other people often means lying and pretending. You'll need to think about whether hiding is more or less stressful than being open about it.

Don't feel under pressure to come out - take your time. Only you will know when you feel comfortable and ready to do it.

If you decide to come out, but are unsure how others might react, you could consider making contact with a support group first. There are helplines, community groups and agencies across the country who are there to support and advise you. 

What will my friends say?

Most people worry about how their friends will react when they come out. Your friends might be surprised, have lots of questions, not know what to say or may have even guessed already. At first, choose a friend you trust and who you think will be supportive. Think about how you’ll answer some of the things they might ask like, ‘how do you know?’.

If a friend reacts badly, remember they might just need some time to absorb what you’ve told them. Although you can’t predict what people will say or do, when you tell a close friend that you trust, the chances are they’ll be pleased you’ve shared something so personal with them.

How do I tell my family?

There’s no right or wrong way or time to come our to your family. However, it’s a good idea to take time to think about what you want to say. Coming out when you’re arguing or angry isn’t a good idea. Some people tell their family face to face while others prefer to write a letter or send an email. Your family might be shocked, worried or find it difficult to accept at first. Remember, their first reaction isn’t necessarily how they’ll feel forever, they might just need a bit of time to process what you’ve told them.

Coming out at work

Stonewall knows that people perform better when they can be themselves. This means it's is in your employer's best interest to support you to be open and honest about who you are when at work. Some employers have LGBT staff networks which you can join for support and to meet other people.

The Equality Act 2010 bans discrimination and harrassment on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender reassignment (gender identity) in employment and vocational training. This includes direct and indirect discrimination, harassment and victimisation, and you are protected throughout the entire employment relationship, from recruitment to dismissal. Discrimination applies to terms and conditions, pay, promotions, transfers, training and dismissal. You can read more about these protections on our information pages under Discrimination At Work

Stonewall works with employers across England, Scotland and Wales through its Diversity Champions programme. This is Britain’s leading best-practice employers' forum for sexual orientation and gender identity equality, diversity and inclusion. You can see who is a member of this programme, and explore our Top 100 Employers for LGBT people 2018.

Other useful sources of support 

You can find LGBT-friendly solicitors and other useful contacts through Stonewall's online database What's In My Area.

For further information contact Stonewall's Information Service.

Help and support

Support groups

These organisations offer mental health advice, support and services, including helplines, for LGBT people.

Albert Kennedy Trust 
The trust supports young LGBT people between the ages of 16 and 25 years old. They can help with finding specialist LGBT mental health services.

Gendered Intelligence 
The organisation works with the trans community, especially young people, and those who affect trans lives.

Imaan is a support group for LGBT Muslims, providing a safe space to share experiences, with factsheets and links to relevant services. 

LGBT Consortium 
The consortium develops and supports LGBT groups and projects around the country. Use the site's directory to find local mental health services.

London Friend 
London Friend aims to improve the health and mental wellbeing of LGBT people in and around London. 

Get information about mental health support for people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer or questioning.

Pink Therapy 
Pink Therapy has an online directory of therapists who work with LGBTIQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and questioning), and gender- and sexual-diversity (GSD) clients.

Find LGBT mental health services near you using Stonewall's "What's in my area?" search box.


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We’re here to help you with whatever you want to talk about. Nothing is off limits, and we understand how anxious you might feel before you pick up the phone.

About us

Founded on March 4th 1974 Switchboard’s information and support helpline operated for five hours every evening in a small room above a bookshop near Kings Cross Station. Because of almost immediate, rapidly increasing demand, it soon became a 24-hour service.

We have provided support and information to millions of people since our phone started ringing in 1974.

Throughout our history, we have been at the forefront of supporting our communities in facing the issues of the day.
<li>In the 1970s, we helped support people coming out after the 1967 partial decriminalisation of male homosexuality and provided much needed signposting to the newly developing ‘gay scene’.</li>
<li>In the 1980s we were the leading source of information on the then new and unknown disease of HIV/AIDS. As the effect on our communities became apparent, we collated and maintained a detailed manual of the latest and most up-to-date information available. We not only shared this with the many frightened callers to our helpline but also with the general public, as our volunteers staffed the BBC helplines to take calls after programmes about HIV and AIDS. Organising a public meeting in 1983, our volunteers went on to set up some of the up the UK’s leading HIV charities, such as Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) and National AIDS Manual (NAM).</li>
<li>In the 1990s our support for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans communities was never more evident than throughout the aftermath of the bombing of the Admiral Duncan pub in Soho in 1999, when volunteers not only answered hundreds of calls from concerned friends and relatives, but also helped many people deal with the after-effects of the attack in the following months.</li>
<li>In the new millennium we have witnessed huge changes in legal equality and LGBT+ information is much more accessible, however our services are still very much needed. We continue to provide support on the phone, and through our email and instant messaging services, to people from across the UK. They may be feeling isolated in their community, they may be coming out and want to talk to somebody who has also been through it, they may have an issue that is concerning them and need to talk it through with somebody who will not judge them, they may want to ask how to put a condom on without being embarrassed, or they may just need to know where they can meet other people in their area.</li>
Our volunteers will continue to provide support and information to these people until the day our phones stop ringing.

Our promise to you

We talk things through. We don’t finish a call until you tell us.

Everything is confidential. You can trust us.

We are you.

All our volunteers self-define as LGBT

Our mission statement

We are Switchboard, the LGBT+ Helpline.
We are a safe space for anyone to discuss anything, including sexuality, gender identity, sexual health and emotional wellbeing.
We support people to explore the right options for themselves.
We aspire to a society where all LGBT+ people are informed and empowered.



This is an Australian website.Although the services are all directed to Australian residents, there is a plethora of information and videos that describe experiences of how people feel being attracted to people of the same gender. 


Learn about other people’s experiences

Watch this video made by QLife Australia and hear other people talk about their experiences of being attracted to the same sex and of coming out.



What can I do now?