Pat Baillie, Out & Equal Director of Training & Professional Development, will be contributing to the Out & Equal blog while she is on the road for a month, traveling and training. Pat is currently in London for the Global LGBT Workplace Summit, which takes place July 5 & 6.
by Pat Baillie | I started out the day working on some projects, so it felt like a normal Monday work day! The email from work has really dropped off since the staff coming over to the Global LGBT Workplace Summit are on their way. After finishing up , we went to lunch and then headed over to Westminster Abbey for their Evensong service. Westminster Abbey has been the site of religious ceremonies for over 1000 years, which have included coronations, weddings and state funerals. Those buried in the Abbey are a relative the “who’s who” of British and world history. If you are into architecture, the inside and outside are amazing. Most of the time, the Abbey is open for touring but it is still a church. The Evensong is a very traditional Anglican service which includes the choir at Westminster Abbey, and is a really good way to get away from the rush of the day.
Dignitaries are part of the service on ocassion, and on this day, Rwanda delegates did the readings. In Rwanda, it isn’t illegal to be LGBT but it is a taboo topic; there are no protections for LGBT Rwandans, and same-sex marriages are not allowed. Besides Rwanda’s other human rights issues, there are reports of harassment, blackmail and arrests of LGBT citizens. I had to take a couple of deep breaths as the congregation prayed for this country, I said my own prayer for LGBT Rwandans! This is a big aspect that we hope to address at the Global Summit, and this was a good reminder to be aware of what it means to be LGBT in the world.
After the service, we walked around the area and found some great Indian food. The end of the night was a ride on the London Eye, which is a pod-like ferris wheel on the River Thames. It is 135 metres (443 feet) high. It was built in 1999 and is a major landmark and tourist attraction. The ride is very slow and provides a great view of the entire city. It was rainy, but even so, there is a chance to see over all of London. After a few days of touring, it was fun to see how it all fit together. Out & Equal staff is arriving and the Global LGBT Summit pre-work starts tomorrow!