LGBTQ+ pride month

#PROUD to have #PRIDE

Pride month is a time for our LGBTQ+ community to celebrate the progress made to attain the rights we currently enjoy and remember those who fought over the years to win these rights.

This month means many different things for the diverse members of our LGBTQ+ community and is a reminder that the struggle for equality is still ongoing and shouldn’t be forgotten.

“Pride is essentially a celebration of who we are, exactly how we are. Also a time for us to remember those who paved the way, and those who are still fighting.”

—Vic Diamante, Project Facilitator, Chelsea and Westminster

As a PROUD and inclusive Trust, we are keen to mark this month.

Words of icons in the LGBTQ+ community

Timeline of LGBTQ communities in the UK

Source: British Library

1533: Buggery Act

This Act of Parliament, passed during the reign of King Henry VIII, moved the issue of sodomy from the ecclesiastical courts to the state. The Act was renewed three times in 1536, 1539 and 1548. Over the next 20 years various monarchs would change the impact of the legislation, but all kept it in place.

The Act did not explicitly target homosexual acts between men as it also applied to sodomy between men and women and a person with an animal. However, it was male homosexual convictions that were by far the most common and publicised. Convictions under the Buggery Act were punishable by death.

1835: Last two men executed for homosexual acts in the UK

The last two men to be executed for homosexual acts were James Pratt and John Smith on 27 November 1835.

1921: Attempt to make sexual acts between women illegal

In 1921 three MPs attempted to add a clause to a new Criminal Law Amendment Bill (designed to protect children under the age of 16 from indecent assault): ‘Any act of gross indecency between female persons shall be a misdemeanour and punishable in the same manner as any such act committed by male persons under section 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885’.

In the debate that followed, despite agreement from speakers that lesbianism was distasteful and an attack on the ‘fundamental institutions of society’, both Houses rejected the clause, and ultimately the entire bill. There was concern that legislation would only draw attention to the offence and encourage women to explore their sexuality.

1946: Autobiography of the first transgender man

In 1946 Michael Dillon published Self: A Study in Endocrinology. The book, which in contemporary terms could be described as an autobiography of the first transgender man to undergo phalloplasty surgery, recounted Dillon’s journey from Laura to Michael, and the surgeries undertaken by pioneering surgeon Sir Harold Gillies.

1957: The Wolfenden Report

The Wolfenden Committee released its report, recommending the decriminalisation of gay sex between consenting adults over 21, except in the armed forces. It stated: ‘homosexual behaviour between consenting adults in private should no longer be a criminal offence.’

Despite support from the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Government rejected the report and it wasn’t until 10 years later that the Sexual Offences Act 1967 decriminalised homosexual acts in private between two men, both over the age of 21.

1967: Sexual Offences Act

The Sexual Offences Act decriminalised homosexual acts between two men, both over the age of 21, in private. The age of consent was set at 21 (compared to 16 for heterosexuals and lesbians). Homosexual acts taking place in the presence of more than two people however, were deemed not ‘in private’ to prevent premises being used for communal activities. The Act only applied to England and Wales.

1972: First gay newspaper and first UK Gay Pride march

Gay News, Britain’s first gay newspaper was a fortnightly publication founded by four members of the Gay Liberation Front and members of the Campaign for Homosexual Equality. It reported on discrimination and political and social advances but also campaigned for law reform. It ceased publication on 15 April 1983.

The London Gay Liberation Front organised the first UK Gay Pride march in London. The march ran from Trafalgar Square to Hyde Park with around 1,000 people marching through the capital.

1981: First UK case of AIDS

The first UK case of AIDS was recorded when a 49-year-old man was admitted to Brompton Hospital, London suffering from Pneumocystis Carinii Pneumonia. He died 10 days later.

1988: Section 28 of the Local Government Act

When a copy of Jenny Lives with Eric and Martin by Susanne Bosche was found in a local authority library in 1983, it caused an outcry. The Daily Mail lambasted local councils for promoting homosexuality to children at the tax payer’s expense.

The argument escalated to the highest levels of government and resulted in the now-infamous Section 28 of the Local Government Act. Expressly denying local authorities the ability to support its LGBT constituents, funding was withdrawn from arts projects, while educational and resource materials which ‘prompt[ed] an alternative gay family’ were censored.

Section 28 remained enforceable until 2003. In 2009 British Prime Minister David Cameron issued a public apology for it.

1989: Stonewall UK

In response to Section 28 legislation, actor Sir Ian McKellen came out on BBC Radio 3 during a debate on the issues raised by the Bill. In 1989 he co-founded Stonewall, a group renowned for its campaigning and lobbying for LGBTQ rights.

1998: The Bolton Seven

This was a group of seven gay and bisexual men who were convicted of gross indecency under the Sexual Offences Act 1956 and age of consent offences under the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994.

Despite the Sexual Offences Act 1967 decriminalising gay sex, they were convicted under section 13 of the 1956 Act because more than two men had sex together, which remained illegal.

None of the men received custodial sentences. A high-profile campaign led by gay human rights group OutRage! presented over 400 letters to the court in support of the men, including those from MPs, Bishops and human rights groups. They urged the judge not to impose a custodial sentence, with Amnesty International pledging to declare the men prisoners of conscience should they be imprisoned.

2002: Equal rights for adoption to same-sex couples

The Adoption and Children Act 2002 allowed gay and lesbian single people, as well as same-sex couples, to adopt a child in the UK. Before this, neither same-sex couples nor unmarried heterosexual couples could adopt or foster children.

2005: Civil Partnership Act and Gender Recognition Act

The Civil Partnership Act was introduced by the Labour Government and gave same-sex couples the same rights and responsibilities as married heterosexual couples in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. It officially came into effect on 5 December 2005.

The Gender Recognition Act came into effect on 4 April 2005, giving trans people full legal recognition in their appropriate gender. It allowed trans people to acquire a new birth certificate, although gender options were still limited to ‘male’ or ‘female’.

2010: Equality Act

The Equality Act 2010 legislates for equal treatment in access to employment as well as private and public services, regardless of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.

The Act also has several restrictions that cause concern, however. It allows religious and faith institutions in England, Scotland and Wales permission to refuse a same-sex marriage ceremony if it contravenes their beliefs.

With limited exceptions, the Equality Act 2010 does not apply in Northern Ireland.

2013: Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act

Although same-sex couples could enter into Civil Partnerships, they were not permitted to marry. This Act gave same-sex couples the opportunity to get married just like any other couple. Same-sex couples already in a Civil Partnership could also now convert this to a marriage.

It came into effect in 2014. The first same-sex marriages took place in England and Wales on 29 March 2014.

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