While laws limiting rights among the LGBT community have been lifted in England, Scotland and Wales, many remain in place in parts of the Commonwealth and Northern Ireland.
One of the biggest takeaways: The government says it will ban “conversion therapy” — a practice the government called “abhorrent” and said can range from “pseudo-psychological treatments to, in extreme cases, surgical interventions and 'corrective' rape.”
The move comes after the British government conducted a recent online survey to better understand the experiences of the LGBT population.
The survey found that of 108,000 self-identified LGBT respondents, more than 70,000 have avoided holding hands with a same-sex partner in public because they fear how others will react. While the survey is not nationally representative, the number of respondents represented around one-tenth of the country's LGBT population.
May said she was “struck by just how many respondents said they cannot be open about their sexual orientation or avoid holding hands with their partner in public for fear of a negative reaction.”
But Ruth Hunt, the chief executive of British LGBT-rights group Stonewall, said that while non-LGBT Britons may be surprised by the results of the survey, the LGBT community is not. “The simple act of holding hands is something all same-sex couples do with a high degree of caution,” she said in a response included with the release of the government's findings. “Attitudes have changed but there are still pockets of society where we’re far from safe.”
On conversion therapy, 2 percent of the survey's respondents said they had participated in some form of it, and 5 percent said they had been offered it.
Journalist Patrick Strudwick, now an editor at BuzzFeed, went undercover to report on gay conversion therapy nine years ago. On Tuesday, he wrote on Twitter that afterward, he “ended up having neurological episodes — spasms and uncontrollable contortions” in his face and body.
A 2017 Human Rights Watch report about gay conversion therapy in China said that "there is now a global consensus among professional medical bodies that conversion therapy with the intent to 'cure' homosexuality is ineffective, unethical, and potentially harmful."
But already on Tuesday a Christian organization in Northern Ireland called Core Issues Trust told a BBC program that it uses “standard psycho-therapeutic practice” to allow people to “safely explore their sexual attraction fluidity issues.”
Michael Davidson, who heads the group and insists it is not “conversion therapy,” said on Tuesday that "the government is discriminating openly against ex-gays.”
“You cannot force people to be gay just because they have the feelings,” he told the BBC.
This week is Pride Week in London, with a massive parade planned for Saturday. Last year, tens of thousands of people hit the streets to participate in the celebrations. And one police officer even proposed to his boyfriend during the parade.