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FEBRUARY IS LGBTQ+ HISTORY MONTH

Celebrated annually, the purpose of this is raise awareness of the achievements of LGBTQ+ people and reflect on the history of the community.


The theme for this year's LGBTQ+ History Month is: Body, Mind and Spirit. For more information and resources check out: The Proud Trust

 

Below is a brief look at the journey focusing on a the different events in LGBTQ+ history since 1969.

No upcoming events at the moment

1969 - THE STONEWALL RIOTS

Commonly referred to as the starting point of the modern LGBTQ+ rights movement, The Stonewall Riots were a series of violent protests in New York against the persecution and police brutality faced by the LGBTQ+ community in the area.

 

Following years of police raids and violence, patrons of the Stonewall Inn took a stand and fought for their rights.

 

These protests lasted days, and even though they were broken up on the first day, people returned the following day to continue their plight for equality.

 

A notable figure involved in the riots was Marsha P Johnson who was an outspoken advocate and activist for LGBTQ+ rights.

1972 - THE FIRST UK PRIDE

On July 1st of 1972, the UK hosted its first LGBT Pride event in London.

 

This date was chosen as it was the nearest Saturday to the anniversary to the Stonewall Riots on June 27th. This event had approximately 2,000 attendees and featured a march from Trafalgar Square to Hyde Park.


Currently London still hosts a pride event known as Pride in London and it is the biggest in the UK, and one of the largest LGBT pride events in the world. 

1975 - THE FIRST LESBIAN MP

Born in 1928, Maureen Colquhoun is a former Labour Party politician. During the 1970s Colquhoun served as a councillor in Shoreham and she was the only female councillor at the time.

 

In the 1974 General Election Maureen was elected as the MP for Northampton North.

 

Maureen officially came out to the world in 1975 when she left her husband Keith Colquhoun for Sappho magazine publisher Barbara Todd, this made her the first Openly Lesbian MP in British politics.

Since then the amount of LGBT representation in UK parliament has grown tremendously, with the UK having the highest number of LGBT MPs out of all Parliaments in the world. 

1978 - THE PRIDE FLAG

The Pride flag we all know and love today originated in San Francisco, it was designed by Gilbert Baker after instruction by Harvey Milk to create a flag that symbolizes pride of the gay community.

 

The first time it was used was in the San Francisco Gay Freedom Parade in 1978. The original concept for the pride flag was said to have been inspired by the hippie movement of the time as well as the ‘flag of the races’, which promotes world peace, this original version of the pride flag contained 8 colours; hot pink, red, orange, yellow, green, turquoise, indigo and violet.

 

These colours were used to symbolise themes of; sexuality, life, healing, sunlight, nature, art, harmony and spirit, however over time due to a number of different reasons including the availability of coloured fabric hot pink and turquoise were taken out of the flag. Gilbert Baker sadly passed away in 2017. 

​1989 - STONEWALL CHARITY FOUNDED

Following the introduction of section 28 the previous year, Stonewall was set up in 1989 by a small group of activists to campaign against this, and further attacks on the LGBTQ+ community from occurring again.

 

Taking its name from the Stonewall Riots, the charity has also campaigned on other major issues such as creating an equal age of consent, LGBT inclusion in the military and many more.

 

Their mission is stated as “We're here to let all lesbian, gay, bi and trans people, here and abroad, know they're not alone” One of the charities most famous campaigns is “Some people are _____ Get over it!” which continues to raise awareness around LGBTQ+ issues and discrimination.

Find out more at www.Stonewall.org.uk 

1994 - THE AGE OF CONSENT FOR GAY MEN LOWERED TO 18 IN THE UK

Following the introduction of the Sexual Offences Act of 1967, the age of consent for gay men was set to 21 in the UK.

 

Following this there was numerous campaigns to make it equal to that of heterosexuals, and also inclusive of gay women, as this legislation did not include them.

 

In 1994 following campaigns by organisations such as Stonewall the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act (1994) lowered the age of consent for gay men to 18. 

1999 - THE ADMIRAL DUNCAN BOMBING

Opened in 1832, the Admiral Duncan Pub was known as one of London’s oldest 'gay' pubs. On the 30th April 1999 the pub on Old Compton Street was the target of a devastating hate attack by Neo-Nazi David Copeland.

 

The attack was done by leaving an unattended bag containing a nail bomb inside the pub. This was the third attack of its kind by Copeland, the first was on the 17th April in Brixton and the second was on the 24th April in Whitechapel. Copeland chose these locations to specifically target specific ethnic and LGBT communities.

 

In the attack on the Admiral Duncan, 3 people were killed and another 70+ were injured. Copeland was arrested hours after the attack on the Admiral Duncan, he admitted to all three attacks and sentenced to six life sentences in prison.

 

Attended by thousands, a spontaneous meeting was held on the following Sunday after the attack in Soho square to remember those who were killed and bring the community together. 

2000 - LGBT PEOPLE ALLOWED TO SERVE IN THE UK ARMED FORCES

Since 2000, LGBTQ+ personnel have been able to serve openly in the British Armed Forces. Until then no gay, lesbian or transgender person would have been able to serve in the British Army, Navy or the Royal Air Force whilst being open about their sexuality or gender identity. In this time any LGBTQ+ personnel who were found out would be dismissed from their position.

 

In 1998 a number of former employees of the British Armed Forces approached Stonewall for Legal representation in the courts to battle their discharges from the forces. Ultimately it got taken to the European Courts of Human Rights and Stonewall won the case.


Thanks to this LGBTQ+ people have equal rights throughout the British Armed Forces in all ranks and acts of discrimination or intolerance are punished. The forces are also often seen at Pride events all across the country supporting their LGBTQ+ officers. London Pride 2008 was the first pride event in which all three services marched in uniform. 

2003 - SECTION 28 REPEALED

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act was passed in 2008 as an amendment to the acts passed with the same name in both 1985 and 1990 which made a number of changes to laws regarding embryo fertilization and IVF treatments. This act finally recognised same sex couples as legal parents of children conceived through the use of IVF treatment which can include the use of donated sperm, eggs or embryos. Meaning that a gay couple can both be the legal parents of a child, whereas before they would be discriminated against and only heterosexual couples could both be legal parents of a child via IVF treatment. 

2005 - THE ADOPTION AND CHILDREN ACT (2002)

This Act came into force on 30 December 2005, repealed and replaced the Adoption Act (1976) and made some amendments to the Children Act (1989).

 

As well as many other changes to legislation around adoption, this act meant that, for the first time in the UK, single people, unmarried and married couples (including same sex couples) all had equal rights to adopt a child. 

2007 - THE EQUALITY ACT (SEXUAL ORIENTATION) REGULATIONS

The Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations are secondary legislation in the UK which outlaw the discrimination of people based on their sexual orientation access to provisions such as good/services, facilities, education and more.

 

This means that shop owners, leisure facilities and other public facilities cannot deny people access to their goods or services because they may not agree with their perceived sexuality. 

2010 - THE EQUALITY ACT (2010)

When it came into force on the 1st October 2010 The Equality Act (2010) replaced a number of anti-discrimination laws, such as The Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations (2007), The Sex Discrimination Act (1975) and The Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations (2003) among others. This made it easier to understand and strengthened a number of protections.

Under the Equality Act (2010) there are nine protected characteristics. These are; age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. The act legally protects these characteristics of a person against discrimination.

2012 - OFSTED ADD HOMOPHOBIC BULLYING INTO THEIR INSPECTIONS

In 2012 OFSTED, the Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills in the UK, finally added in literature around homophobia and transphobia into its inspections. This is part of their ‘No Place for Bullying’ report which found that homophobic and transphobic language and bullying is common within schools.


It also found that only 29% of primary school teachers and 41% of secondary school teachers they interviewed had completed training around homophobic bullying whilst being at their current schools.

For more information, check out their report

2016 - PULSE NIGHTCLUB SHOOTING

On 12th June 2016, the popular Pulse LGBT Nightclub in Orlando was attacked by an armed gunman, Omar Mateen.

 

49 people were killed and over 50 others were injured in the attack, members of the LGBT community and allies alike. This attack was the largest mass shooting in American history. After the attacks people across the world reached out to the victims and their families.

 

Following the attack people across the globe spoke out once again to urge America to introduce stricter gun laws in order to prevent tragedies like this from happening again.

In 2016 we commemorated this tragedy by naming our main stage at Wigan Pride the 'Orlando' stage.

1970 - THE FIRST PRIDES

Following the Stonewall Riots the year before, the first notable pride events began to pop up around the end of June 1970 to commemorate one year since the violent protests.

 

Activists in New York organised a pride march known as “Christopher Street Liberation Day” recalling the events of the previous year.

 

Known as Gay Liberation Marches these events are the basis which most modern pride events take their values, coming together to celebrate diversity and take a stand for equality for all. 

1972 - GAY NEWS FOUNDED

Founded in 1972, Gay News was a tabloid newspaper and it was the first of its kind to be released in the UK.

 

It was released fortnightly and was used as a way to reach the LGBT community. It was also used to campaign for gay rights in the UK, notably to get the age of consent reduced from 21 to match that of heterosexuals.

 

In 1974 the tabloid was charged with obscenity after they published an issue which featured two men kissing on the front cover. At its peak, Gay News was selling over 18,000 copies, however it ceased publication in early 1983.

1978 - HARVEY MILK'S ASSASSINATION

Harvey Milk was an American Politician who became the first openly LGBT person to be elected into public office in California.

 

Milk became popular for his anti-discrimination mind set. His work whilst in office included helping open day care centres for working mothers, creating affordable housing and working to protect gay rights.

 

Milk worked hard to protect the LGBT community and break down social barriers that people had put up about Gay men and the LGBT community, all whilst many people still considered being gay a mental illness by the World Health Organisation.


Milk was assassinated by Dan White in 1978, an ex-board member who often clashed with Milk on particular issues, including the normalization of homosexuality in society and a breakdown of ‘traditional American values’. Mayor George Moscone was also murdered by White, shortly before Milk. Dan White committed suicide in 1985. 

1988 - SECTION 28

Section 28, part of the Local Government Act 1988, was introduced by then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

 

This clause banned the ‘promotion’ of homosexuality by local authorities and from schools. Councils, schools, libraries and more were banned from stocking books and films that contained gay and lesbian themes.

 

Actor Sir Ian McKellen came out publicly for the first time to voice his views. Partially fueled by the rising stigma of HIV/AIDS section 28 was passed in parliament by a 99 - 17 majority vote.

 

The clause was finally repealed in England in 2003 by a majority of 180-130, however the damage this act did to the LGBTQ+ community through the 80s and 90s is unmeasurable. 

1984-1985 - LGSM & THE MINERS' STRIKES

During the miners’ strikes of 1984-1985, LGSM formed by Mark Ashton and Mike Jackson, an LGBT organisation from London began collecting donations and working to help the mining communities affected by the strikes.

 

LGSM twinned with the Dulais, Neath and Swansea Valleys support groups and supported the miners and their families. During its time working with the communities the some women from LGSM separated and spawned their own group ‘Lesbians against Pit Closures’.

 

The largest fundraising event that LGSM organised was the ‘Pits and Perverts’ benefit concert headlined by Bronski Beat and Jimmy Somerville. This support network unified two minority groups at the time and allowed people to see more than the negative stigma of the LGBT community.

 

After the strikes came to a conclusion, a number of miners and their families who had been supported by LGSM joined them during the 1985 London Pride March. 

1998 - THE FIRST TRANSGENDER CHARACTER APPEARS IN A UK SOAP

First appearing in 1998, popular Coronation Street character Hayley Cropper, played by Julie Hesmondhalgh, was the first Transgender character introduced into a British Soap Opera.

 

She was also the first permanent transgender character in a serialised drama.

 

This was very ahead of the times in terms of representation of trans* people on television.

 

She married another very popular character on the show, Roy Cropper, in 2010 and appeared in the show until the characters death in 2014. 

1992 - HOMOSEXUALITY DECLASSIFIED AS A MENTAL DISORDER

Until 1992, homosexuality was classified as a mental disorder by the World Health Organisation, meaning that people identifying as LGB could be considered as mentally ill.


In 2018 they announced that ‘gender incongruence’ aka identifying as a different gender to the one assigned at birth would also no longer be considered a mental disorder and would instead be categorised into the organisation's sexual health chapter. This change is due to go into effect in 2022. 

2001 - AN EQUAL AGE OF CONSENT FOR ALL INTRODUCED

In 1994 it was voted on in parliament to equalise the age of consent for everyone regardless of sexuality, however this was unsuccessful and was voted against 307 - 280.


However in 2001, the Sexual Offences (Amendment) 2000 came into effect which lowered the age of consent for gay men to 16, finally equal to that of heterosexuals.

 

This legislation also included an age of consent for lesbian sexual acts, which previously there had been no legislation for. 

2005 - GENDER RE-ASSIGNMENT ACT

The Gender Recognition Act (2004) came into effect on 4th April 2005. This act allowed transgender people to legally change their sex to match their gender identity and acquire a new birth certificate to reflect this. This allows them full recognition of their gender for all legal purposes, including marriage.

 

The act requires the applicants to have transitioned to their gender for at least two years before a certificate will be issued to them. However sex re-assignment surgery is not a requirement.

 

Birth certificates given as part of the Gender Recognition Act (2004) are now indistinguishable to those given out at birth and display the sex and name of the individual just as a regular birth certificate would. Due to a number of flaws, original certificates given as part of the act were able to be distinguished.

2005 - THE CIVIL PARTNERSHIP ACT

Coming into effect on the 5th December 2005, The Civil Partnership Act (2004) allowed same sex couples similar rights to that of married heterosexual couples with some slight differences.

 

Although it gave homosexual couples a means of getting almost the same rights as a married heterosexual couple, this in itself was a form of discrimination to both same and opposite sex couples, as marriage was not attainable for homosexuals and heterosexual couples could not get a civil partnership.

 

Elton John and his partner David formed a civil partnership on the same day as the legislation came into force. 

2008 - THE HUMAN FERTILISATION AND EMBRYOLOGY ACT

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act was passed in 2008 as an amendment to the acts passed with the same name in both 1985 and 1990 which made a number of changes to laws regarding embryo fertilization and IVF treatments.

 

This act finally recognised same sex couples as legal parents of children conceived through the use of IVF treatment which can include the use of donated sperm, eggs or embryos. Meaning that a gay couple can both be the legal parents of a child, whereas before they would be discriminated against and only heterosexual couples could both be legal parents of a child via IVF treatment. 

2011 - LIFETIME BAN ON GAY MEN GIVING BLOOD IS LIFTED

In 2011 the British Government made the decision to lift the indefinite ban on gay men on donating blood, and instead introduced a deferral that allows gay men to donate blood as long as it has been at least 12 months since they last have engaged in sex with another man. This is to stop the spread of the HIV virus through donated blood, however many consider the ban to be outdated and feel that it encourages negative stereotyping against the gay community.

 

During the 1980s when the HIV & AIDS epidemic was in full force lifetime bans were made across the globe to not accept blood donations that come from men who have sex with other men. This was due to the HIV virus being stereotyped as a gay disease which only gay men could spread, which as we know now is not true.

 

With extensive research, new medicines and more education on how to have safe sex AIDS is not the epidemic it once was. A number of countries still uphold a full ban on blood donated by gay men, whilst some countries like Italy and Poland do not hold any ban that stops gay men donating blood.

2013 - MARRIAGE EQUALITY IN THE UK

The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 is the legislation which legalised marriage for same-sex couples in England and Wales. This gave them full marriage rights, equal to that of heterosexual couples, unlike civil partnerships that did not offer fully equal rights.

The act received its first reading in Parliament on 24 January 2013 and its Second Reading on 5 February. It passed by a large majority of 400 to 175. Since then thousands of same sex couples have been able to be wed, and many have been able to change their previous civil partnerships into marriages.

2017 - 50 YEARS SINCE THE DECRIMINALISATION OF HOMOSEXUALITY

2017 marked the 50th anniversary of homosexuality being decriminalised in the UK back in 1967 with the Sexual Offences Act.

 

When this act was introduced the age of consent for homosexual couples became 21 years of age. But did you know what Iceland decriminalized homosexuality all the way back in 1940?

 

Switzerland also decriminalized it in 1942 and Sweden in 1944 with the age of consent set at 20.

 

Greece decriminalized homosexuality in 1952 and Thailand decriminalized homosexual acts in 1956.

 

Since, many other countries across the globe have introduced laws and bills that protect and decriminalise the LGBTQ+ community however many others including still continue to prosecute and punish LGBTQ+ people to this day.

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