Public and political attitudes towards lesbians have been slow to change in the UK. A number of recent legislative reforms, however, will alter the personal and political landscape for women who do not identify as heterosexual. This article explores the reported experiences of lesbians in the UK, concentrating on those who provide care for others, be this in a personal and/or professional context, and reviews the way in which legal and social changes look set to impact on them. Three distinct areas are examined by drawing on recent research: lesbian parents, lesbian carers and lesbians working in the care sector. Common themes and differences are identified and discussed.
The article concludes that the UK government is becoming more proactive in its response to lesbian lifestyles, particularly in respect of those who have, or intend to have children. The overall approach, though based upon sound principles of civil rights, is piecemeal. In all three of the areas covered, lesbians face continued discrimination and inequality. The discussion draws attention to the need to consider such issues across the life-course and for policy makers to recognise that lesbians may have multiple social roles as parents, carers and care workers.