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Facts Throughout the Decades

For LGBT+ History Month we've been sharing some key historical points across the LGBT+ timeline on our social media. Below is the complete list.

1950 — 1959
  • Roberta Cowell was the first known British trans woman to undergo reassignment surgery and have her birth certificate changed.
  • The Wolfenden Committee was formed after successions of well-known men are convicted of ‘indecency’, calling into question the legitimacy of the law.
  • The Wolfenden Committee published a report, recommending that ‘homosexual behaviour between consenting adults in private should no longer be a criminal offence’. Supporters of this recommendation include the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Geoffrey Fisher, and the British Medical Association. Despite this, the recommendations were rejected by the government.
  • The Homosexual Law Reform Society was founded to campaign for the legalisation of same-sex relationships in the UK.
1960 — 1969
  • The Minorities Research Group became the UK’s first lesbian social and political organisation and went on to publish a monthly journal – Arena Three.
  • Trans support group, The Beaumont Society, was founded to provide information and education to the general public, the medical and legal professions on ‘transvestism’ and to encourage research aimed at fuller understanding.
  • The Sexual Offences Act 1967 decriminalises sex between two men over 21 and ‘in private’. It did not extend to the Merchant Navy or the Armed Forces, or Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man, where sex between two men remained illegal.
  • North West Homosexual Law Reform Committee became a UK-wide organisation and was renamed as the Committee for Homosexual Equality (CHE). The Committee attracted support from leading figures in the medical profession, the arts and the church.
  • The Stonewall riots in America – a series of spontaneous, violent demonstrations by members of theLGBT community against a police raidon the Stonewall inn, Manhattan. This key event triggered the modern LGBT liberation movement in the US and beyond.
1970 — 1979
  • London Gay Liberation Front (GLF) was established in the UK. It is based on a parallel movement in the US based on revolutionary politics.
  • The Corbett v Corbettdivorce case established a precedent that a person's sex cannot legally be changed from that which is assigned at birth.
  • The Committee for Homosexual Equality, keeping the same initials, became the Campaign for Homosexual Equality (CHE).
  • The Nullity of Marriage Act was passed, explicitly banning same-sex marriages between same-sex couples in England and Wales.
  • The first Pride was held in London, attracting approximately 2,000 participants.
  • Gay News, Britain’s first gay newspaper was founded.
  • The Campaign for Homosexual Equality held the first British gay rights conference in Morecambe, Lancashire.
  • Brighton's first Pride took place, organised by the Sussex Gay Liberation Front.
  • London Lesbian and Gay Switchboard, a London-based information and support helpline, was established.
  • Jan Morris, Welsh historian, author and travel writer, released Conundrum, a personal account of her transition.
  • Maureen Colquhoun came out as the first lesbian Labour MP.
  • Stephen Whittle, transman and prominent activist co-founds a Manchester based "TV/TS" group; a group for trans people.
  • The First National TV/TS (Transvestite/Transsexual Conference) was held in Leeds.
  • British journal, Gay Left, began publication.
  • The Liberal Party (now the Liberal Democrats) became the first UK political party to support LGBT rights, passing a motion at conference to support ‘full equality for homosexuals’, including equalising the age of consent.
  • The Gay Christian Movement was founded at a public meeting at the Sir John Cass School in the City of London(the organisation's name later changed to the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement and then One Body One Faith in 2017).
  • The first gay and lesbian Trades Union Congress (TUC) conference took place to discuss workplace rights.
  • At a Campaign for Homosexual Equality conference, Amnesty International was called upon to take up the issue of the persecution of lesbians and gay men.
  • A Bill to reduce the age of consent to 18 was defeated in the UK House of Lords.
  • Gay News Magazine was successfully prosecuted by Mary Whitehouse for ‘Blasphemy’.
  • Founding of the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association, now the World Professional Association for Transgender Health.
1980 — 1989
  • Sex between two men over the age of 21 ‘in private’ is decriminalised in Scotland.
  • British documentary ‘A Change of Sex’ was aired on the BBC following the social and medical transition ofJulia Grant.
  • The BBC also gives an inside view of the Gender Identity Clinic at Charing Cross Hospital in London.
  • The first Black Gay and Lesbian Group was formed in the UK.
  • A landmark court case found that Northern Ireland’s criminalisation of same-sex acts violates the European Convention on Human Rights.
  • The first UK case of AIDS was recorded when a 49-year-old man was admitted to Brompton Hospital in London suffering from PCP (Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia). He died ten days later.
  • London Bisexual Group was formed, the first bi group in the UK.
  • The Homosexual Offences Order decriminalised sex between two men over the age of 21 ‘in private’ in Northern Ireland.
  • Terry Higgins died of AIDS in St. Thomas’ Hospital, his partner Rupert Whittaker, Martyn Butler and friends set up the Terry Higgins Trust (which became the Terrence Higgins trust), the UK’s first AIDS charity.
  • UK Crown Dependency, Guernsey, decriminalised sex between two men.
  • Men who have sex with men are asked not to donate to UK blood banks amid the AIDS crisis.
  • The UK’s first national lesbian and gay TV show, One in Five, was shown on Channel 4.
  • Chris Smith, Labour MP for Islington South and Finsbury, spoak openly about his sexual orientation and became the first openly gay MP, 10 years after Maureen Colquhoun came out as the first lesbian MP.
  • The National Bisexual Conference, now known as BiCon, launched.
  • Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners campaign was launched in of support of workers in the miners’ strikes in 1984 and 1985.
  • Edinburgh Bisexual Group, the first bi group in Scotland, was founded. In addition to group meetings, the group also set up the first bi-specific helpline in the UK.
  • Mark Rees, a trans-man, brought a case to the European Court of Human Rights, stating that UK law prevented him from gaining legal status recognising him as male. The case was lost but the court noted the seriousness of the issues facing trans people.
  • The International Foundation for Gender Education (IFGE) was founded to promote acceptance for transgender people.
  • UK Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, introduced Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988. The Act stated that a local authority "shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality" or "promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship".
  • Sir Ian McKellen came out on the UK’s BBC Radio in response to the government’s proposed Section 28 in the British Parliament.
  • Denmark became the first country in the world to give legal recognition to same-sex partnerships.
  • Stonewall UK was formed in response to Section 28 and other barriers to equality. Founding members include Ian McKellen and Michael Cashman.
  • The first national lesbian and gay TV series 'Out on Tuesday'first aired on Channel 4. It screened again in 1990, and subsequently in 1991, 1992, and 1994, retitled 'OUT'.
1990 — 1999
  • A Candlelit vigil was held in London after five gay men are murdered within months of each other. This lead to the formation of Outrage, who called for police to start protecting gay and bi men instead of arresting them.
  • Lesbian and gay police officers established the UK’s Lesbian and Gay Police Association.
  • The first Pride event was held in Manchester.
  • Justin Fashanu became the first professional footballer to come out as gay. He later dies by suicide.
  • Northern Ireland held their first Pride parade.
  • The UK Crown Dependency of Jersey decriminalised sex between two men.
  • Sir Ian McKellen met UK Prime Minister John Major. It was the first time in any sitting the Prime Minister had met with LGBT activists.
  • World Health Organisation declassifiede same-sex attraction as a mental illness.
  • The UK Crown Dependency of Isle of Man repeals sodomy laws (homosexuality was still illegal until 1994).
  • Following a fringe meeting at the Liberal Democrat Federal Conference in 1991, Press For Change, a key lobbying and legal support organisation for trans people in the UK, was established.
  • Stonewall began its first major campaign for an equal age of consent in the UK.
  • British serial killer, Colin Ireland, was convicted of killing five gay men. He was sentenced to life in prison.
  • The UK House of Commons moved to equalise the age of consent for same-sex relations between men to 16. The vote was defeated and the age of consent was instead lowered to 18. An age of consent for same-sex relations between women is not set.
  • The UK Crown Dependency of Isle of Man fully decriminalised homosexuality.
  • TV personality, Sandi Toksvig Came out as a lesbian.
  • Mermaids was founded by a group of parents brought together by their children’s longstanding gender issues. The UK charity offers appropriate resources to young people, their families and carers, and professionals working with gender variant young people.
  • Rank Outsiders and Stonewall launched a major campaign to end the ban on LGB people openly serving in the British military.
  • The landmark case – P vs S and Cornwall County Council – Found that an employee who was about to undergo gender reassignment was wrongfully dismissed. It was the first piece of case law, anywhere in the world, which prevented discrimination in employment or vocational education because someone is trans.
  • BBC Radio 4’s, The Archers, the world longest running soap, introduces its first openly gay character, Sean Myerson.
  • Stephen Twigg became the first openly gay MP at the time of his election. Ben Bradshaw, also openly gay, was also elected just 21 minutes later.
  • UK Government recognised same-sex partners for immigration purposes.
  • Angela Eagle became Britain’s first MP tovoluntarilycome out as a lesbian.
  • The Equality Network was formed in Scotland to ensure that the voices of diverse LGBT people are heard in policy making.
  • Euan Sutherland complained to the European Commission of Human Rights that the age of consent for gay people was two years higher than for heterosexual people. The Commission ruled in Euan’s favour, leading to the equalisation of the age of consent in 2001.
  • The House of Commons voted to lower the age of consent for same-sex relations between men to 16 in England.However, a month later the House of Lords defeated the clause.
  • Waheed Alli became the first openly gay member of the House of Lords and one of a few openly gay Muslims.
  • The Bolton 7, a group of gay and bi men, were convicted of gross indecency. They took their case to the ECHR claiming a violation of Article 8 and the right to a private life. After a campaign by Outrage! and Amnesty International they were awarded compensation by the UK Government.
  • Trans Day of Remembrance was founded in the USA, and then later in the UK and worldwide, to memorialise those who have been murdered as a result of transphobia and to bring attention to the continued violence endured by the trans community.
  • The Admiral Duncan a gay pub in Soho, was bombed by former British National Party member, David Copeland. The attack killed three people and wounded at least 70.
  • Queer Youth Alliance was formed.
  • Michael Cashman, co-founder of Stonewall UK, became the first openly gay UK member elected to the European Parliament.
  • The European Court of Human Rights unanimously finds that the investigation into, and subsequent discharge of, two personnel from the Royal Navy on the basis of their sexual orientation is a breach of their right to a private life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
  • Bi Visibility Day, also known as Celebrate Bisexuality Day, was founded on 23September to celebrate bisexuality and combat bi erasure.
2000 — 2009
  • The UK Government lifted the ban on lesbians, gay men and bi people serving in the armed forces.
  • Legislation was introduced to repeal Section 28 in England and Wales. The bill was defeated. Scotland abolished Section 28. But It remained in place in England and Wales.
  • Stonewall’s campaign to reduce the age of consent for same-sex relations between men aged 16 was successful as changes were made to the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 2000. Group sex between men was also decriminalised.
  • Stonewall sets up the Diversity Champions programme to help employers who want to treat their lesbian, gay and bi employees fairly.
  • The age of consent was lowered to 16 (having been lowered from 21 to 18 in 1994), making it the same as the age of consent for straight people.
  • Equal rights are granted to same-sex couples applying for adoption.
  • Brain Dowlingbecame the first openly gay children’s TV presenter in the UK.
  • Alan Duncanbecame the first Conservative MP to be open about his sexual orientation, without being coerced.
  • In theGoodwin v the United Kingdomcase, judges ruled that the UK Government should accommodate the needs of trans people by issuing new birth certificates and permitting marriage to someone of the opposite gender.
  • Section 28 was repealed in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, lifting the ban on local authorities from ‘the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality’.
  • Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) regulations became law in the UK, making it illegal to discriminate against lesbians, gay and bi people in the workplace.
  • Stonewall Cymru was founded.
  • Celia Kitzinger and Sue Wilkinson, both British university professors, legally married in Canada. On their return, their same-sex marriage was not recognised under British law.
  • The Civil Partnership Act 2004 was passed, granting civil partnership in the United Kingdom. The Act gives same-sex couples the same rights and responsibilities as married straight couples in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.
  • The Gender Recognition Act 2004 was passed giving trans people full legal recognition in their appropriate gender. The Act allows trans people to acquire a new birth certificate, although gender options are still limited to ‘male’ or ‘female’.
  • Section 146 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 empowers UK courts to impose tougher sentences for offences aggravated or motivated by the victim’s sexual orientation, or their presumed sexual orientation.
  • The Adoption and Children Act 2002came into force allowing unmarried couples, including same-sex couples, to apply for joint adoption.
  • Stonewall launched the Education for All campaign to tackle homophobic bullying in schools.
  • Christopher Cramp and Matthew Rochebecome the first couple to complete a Civil Partnership in the UK. Mr Roche died of terminal cancer the following day.
  • Transgender Europe was founded. The organisation campaigns for the equality of all trans people in Europe.
  • Stonewall launched the Stonewall Awards, celebrating achievements for lesbian, gay and bi equality.
  • In the case of Grant v the United Kingdomthe European Court of Human Rights held that denying a state pension at age 60 from a male-to-female trans person was a breach of the right to respect for private life.
  • In the Isle of Man the age of consent was equalised and Section 28 was repealed.
  • The Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007 outlawed the discrimination in the provision of goods, facilities, services, education and public functions on the grounds of sexual orientation.
  • Law Changedin Scotland give same-sex couples equality in adoption and fostering.
  • Ian Smith, Patrick Harvie, Margaret Smith and Joe Fitzpatrick are elected as openly gay, lesbian or bi MSPs in the 2007-11 Scottish Parliament.
  • UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair, addressed Stonewall’s Equality Dinner.
  • Stonewall launched its iconic ‘Some People Are Gay. Get Over it!’ campaign.
  • ‘Engendered Penalties Transsexual and Transgender People’s Experience of Inequality and Discrimination’was published. This was instrumental in ensuring the inclusion of trans people in the remit of the UK’s new Commission for Equalities and Human Rights.
  • The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 recognised same-sex couples as legal parents of children conceived through the use of donated sperm, eggs or embryos.
  • Gendered Intelligence was founded in the UK to increase the understanding of gender diversity.
  • Stonewall conducted the first large-scale study of lesbian and bi women’s health.
  • David Cameron apologised on behalf of the Conservative party for the introduction of Section 28.
  • Welsh rugby star Gareth Thomas came out as gay.
2010 — 2019
  • The Equality Act 2010 officially added "Gender Reassignment" as a protected characteristic.
  • Stonewall secured an amendment to the Equality Act 2010 to remove the ban on religious groups from holding civil partnerships on their premises.
  • 10 years after the ban on lesbian, gay and bi people in the military is lifted, all armed forces are members of Stonewall’s Diversity Champions Programme.
  • A new offence of ‘incitement to homophobic hatred’ came into force in the UK.
  • The Department of Health lifted the lifetime ban on gay and bi men donating blood, although a 12-month celibacy clause was still in place in order for men who have sex with men to be eligible to donate.
  • An amendment to the Marriages and Civil Partnerships (Approved Premises) (Amendment) Regulations 2011, was tabled by Lord Waheed Alli, permits the celebration of civil partnerships in religious buildings in the UK.
  • Stonewall amended its charitable objectives to campaign internationally.
  • Ruth Davidson was elected to lead the Scottish Conservatives. She was the first openly gay leader of a political party.
  • UK Courts ruled in favour of gay couple, Martin Hall and Steven Preddy, when owners of a bed and breakfast refused to provide them with a double room.
  • Stonewall began working with human rights defenders to campaign for LGBT rights in over 80 countries.
  • The Protection of Freedoms Act was passed in the UK allowing for historic convictions for consensual sex between men to be removed from criminal records.
  • Explicit reference to homophobic bullying in schools is introduced into Ofsted’s inspection framework in the UK.
  • Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act was passed in England and Wales.
  • Stonewall sent Rainbow Laces to all the professional football clubs in the UK to encourage players to show their commitment to making sport inclusive.
  • Stonewall’s ‘Gay. Let’s get the meaning straight’ Campaign launched in schools to address the widespread use of homophobic language.
  • Alan Turing was given a posthumous royal pardon for his conviction of ‘gross indecency’ which resulted in his being chemically castrated and later committing suicide.
  • Olympic diver Tom Daley revealed on YouTube that he is in a same-sex relationship.
  • The first Trans Pride event took place in Brighton.
  • Marriages between same-sex couples became legal in New Zealand.
  • The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 officially came into force, with the first same- marriages in England and Wales taking place on 29 March 2014.
  • Scottish Government passed legislation allowing same-sex couples to marry in Scotland.
  • Same-sex civil unions were first recognised in Malta.
  • Casey Stoney, Captain of the England Women’s football team, came out as lesbian.
  • Stonewall extended its remit to campaign for trans equality.
  • Mikhail Ivan Gallatinov and Mark Goodwin became the first couple to have a same-sex wedding in a UK prison after marrying at Full Sutton Prison in East Yorkshire.
  • The Royal Vauxhall Tavern became the first ever building in the UK to be given a special listing status based on its LGBT history.
  • Stonewall held a free training programme for Russian LGBTQ activists.
  • Stonewall unveiled a new ‘acceptance without exception’ tagline.
  • The US legalised same-sex marriage.
  • Mozambique decriminalised same-sex relationships.
  • Ireland voted by a huge majority to legalise same-sex marriage, becoming the first country in the world to do so by a referendum.
  • The Women and Equalities Committee held an inquiry into Transgender Equality.
  • David Mundell announced he is gay on his personal website. He became the first openly gay Conservative cabinet minister.
  • The Isle of Man legalised same-sex marriage.
  • Robert Hannigan, GCHQ’s Director, addressed Stonewall’s Workplace Conference and publicly apologised for the service’s historic treatment of LGBT people.
  • North Carolina introduced a law – HB2 – which forced people to use public toilets or changing facilities that correspond with the gender they were assigned at birth. Many celebrities spook out and cancelled scheduled appearances in protest.
  • Same-sex civil unions were first recognised in Italy.
  • 49 people are killed and 53 people injured after a gunman opened fire in the LGBT nightclub Pulse, in Orlando. London and other major cities across the world hold vigils to show solidarity with the victims. 2016 Justine Greening announced she is in a same-sex relationship on London’s Pride day, making her the first out LGBT female cabinet member.
  • President Obama declared the Stonewall Inn America’s first national monument to LGBT rights.
  • Prince William appeared on the front cover of gay magazine, Attitude, stating that no one should be bullied because of their sexuality.
  • The Government issued a posthumous pardon to all gay and bi men who were convicted under pernicious sexual offences laws in the last century which enabled police to criminalise people for being gay or bi.
  • Amendments were made to the Children and Social Work Bill, which made relationships and sex education (RSE) mandatory in all schools in England and Wales from 2019.
  • The UK Supreme Court ruled that the discrimination against same-sex couples on pensions rights needs to end immediately.
  • The Department of Health reduced the deferral period for gay and bi men wishing to donate blood from 12 months to three months.
  • The Scottish Government passed a law issuing a pardon to all gay and bi men who were convicted of having consensual sex with other men before it was decriminalised in 1981. This legislation went further than the 2017 legislation in England and Wales, which offers only posthumous pardons.
  • The UK Government announced that it will bring forward proposals to ban conversion therapy at the legislative level.
  • Same-sex marriage was legalised in the UK Crown Dependency of Jersey. The consultation on reform of the Gender Recognition Act received over 100,000 responses, with the vast majority supportive of reforms to the Act that would improve trans people’s lives.
  • It was the fiftieth anniversary of the Stonewall uprising.
  • The first LGBT+ correspondent for BBC News, Ben Hunte, was hired.
  • A new PSHE curriculum was introduced in England, requiring that lessons include acknowledgment of LGBT rights and protect the physical and mental wellbeing of LGBT children.
  • The first Bi Pride UK event was held, the first bi-specific Pride event in the UK and the largest bi gathering in history.
2020 — Present
  • Same-sex marriage became legal in Northern Ireland.
  • Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran came out as pansexual, making her the first openly pansexual UK parliamentarian.
  • The government announced that blood donation rules for gay and bisexual men will be relaxed further, focusing on individual behaviours rather than a blanket ban on any men who have had sex with men in the past three months.
  • Religious leaders from every major faith came together in a show of unity to urge the UK government to legislate a ban on conversion therapy.
  • The UK census included questions on gender identity and sexual orientation for the first time, meaning that data can be gathered on the numbers of LGBT people across the country.
  • The Government announced plans to legislate to ban conversion therapy, as well as setting up a new fund to increase the support available for survivors.
  • 31 March 2022: The government now says it will ban so-called conversion therapy for gay or bisexual people in England and Wales - but not for transgender people. Sparking outrage and protests across the LGBT+ community.
  • Jake Daniels: Blackpool footballer, 17, comes out, becoming the only openly gay male professional footballer in Britain in over 30 years.