The LGBT+ history month commences on 1st February. It is an annual month-long observance of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender history, and the history of the gay rights and related civil rights movements. It was founded in 1994 by Missouri high-school history teacher Rodney Wilson.
As a CBT Therapist I offer an in reach clinic to the LGBT+ community in Leeds for people with low mood and anxiety problems. The pilot was set up in 2018 in recognition of the high incidence of mental health problems, suicide and self-harm in the community due to ongoing prejudice, hate crime, and discrimination.
The benefits of the pilot are threefold – timely access, being seen in a LGBT+ friendly venue and by a therapist from the LGBT+ community themselves.
Over the past, nearly 3 years I have had the honour of working with such a diverse group of people. Despite all the major advances in the last few decades one theme ran throughout all of their stories – non acceptance. Whether this was tracing back their difficulties to issues around coming out or coming to terms with their sexuality or gender identity, to being bullied, disowned by parents and family, abused by strangers, discriminated by employers and neglected by the system.
I’ve summarised some of these historical changes below and I’m taken aback that it wasn’t long ago that non acceptance was sanctioned by the state. Now all that’s changed unfortunately non acceptance still goes on. The fight continues and LGBT+ history month serves as a reminder to keep fighting for the equality of all people who suffer non acceptance for something they have no choice in, be that our sexuality, gender identity, our disabilities or the colour of our skin and in all those things we have solidarity for a better future.
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.
The Stonewall riots in America – a series of spontaneous, violent demonstrations by members of the LGBT community against a police raid on the Stonewall Inn, Manhattan. This key event triggers the modern LGBT liberation movement in the US and beyond.
The first Pride is held in London, attracting approximately 2,000 participants.
Denmark becomes the first country in the world to give legal recognition to same-sex partnerships.
World Health Organisation declassifies same-sex attraction as a mental illness.
The UK Government lifts the ban on lesbians, gay men and bi people serving in the armed forces.
Section 28 is 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’.
The age of consent is lowered to 16 (having been lowered from 21 to 18 in 1994), making it the same as the age of consent for straight people.
In the Goodwin v the United Kingdom case, 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.
Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations becomes law in the UK, making it illegal to discriminate against lesbians, gay and bi people in the workplace.
The Civil Partnership Act 2004 is 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 is 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 2002 comes into force allowing unmarried couples, including same-sex couples, to apply for joint adoption.
David Cameron apologises on behalf of the Conservative party for the introduction of Section 28.
The Equality Act 2010 officially adds gender reassignment as a protected characteristic.
A new offence of ‘incitement to homophobic hatred’ comes into force in the UK.
Protection of Freedoms Act is 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 is passed in England and Wales.
Alan Turing is given a posthumous royal pardon for his conviction of ‘gross indecency’ which resulted in his being chemically castrated and later committing suicide.
The Government issues 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.