From the first official march to now, join us in looking back on LGBTQI history in the UK

BY LUCAN FAIRWEATHER, IMAGE BY NIM VIA UNSPLASH

2022 marks the 50th anniversary of the first official Gay Pride rally in London. As a celebration of how far the LGBTQI community has come, here is a history of queer rights in the UK. To know your history is to know your power.

1970s

Inspired by the historic 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York, which launched a queer rights movement which echoed throughout the world, the UK’s first official Pride march took place in London three years later in 1972. The date was chosen as the nearest Saturday to the anniversary of the Riots. Around 2000 people marched from Hyde Park to Trafalgar Square in protest of anti-gay violence and police hostility in the UK. 

1980s

Pride in Yorkshire

The Pride march of 1981 moved to Yorkshire in support of the Yorkshire queer community, in which popular gay nightclub, The Gemini Club, was repeatedly raided by West Yorkshire Police. This parade, which took place in Huddersfield, is recognised as the first national UK Pride.

Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM)

LGSM was an activist movement from an LGBTQI alliance supporting the National Union of Mineworkers and their year-long strike against Thatcher’s plan to close collieries. Activist Mark Ashton and his friends began collecting donations for miners at the 1984 London Pride march. This solidarity later led to mining communities showing support at various UK Pride parades, and the Labour party adopting LGBTQI rights into their party programme after pressure from the mining community. 

Section 28

Thatcher’s government later passed Section 28 of the Local Government Act May 1988. This law prohibited the promotion of homosexuality by local authorities, meaning local councils and schools. LGBTQI groups campaigned against Section 28 and numbers increased at Pride events in protest of the law, which wasn’t abolished completely until 2003. The recent emergence of “Don’t Say Gay” bills in the USA show ripples of our grim past.  

1990s

Trans Day of Remembrance (TDOR)

TDOR was founded in 1999 to honour and remember those murdered as a result of transphobia, bringing attention to the violence trans people continue to face today. 2021 saw the highest recorded rate of trans murders since TDOR began. It was a stark reminder that we must do more to protect the community.

2000s

The Gender Recognition Act

This act came into effect in 2005, allowing transgender people full recognition of their gender and giving them the option of a new birth certificate. In May 2021, the government reduced the cost of a gender recognition certificates (GRC) from £140 to £5, though the cost of amending documents such as passports is still unaccessible for many. It should be noted that options on GRC are limited to male or female, meaning non-binary people are still unable to apply.

2010s

The Equality Act

Passed during the Brown ministry, the Equality Act protected various characteristics, including “sexual orientation and gender reassignment”, from being subject to discrimination in employment.

Gay Marriage

In July 2013 the UK government legalised same-sex marriage in England and Wales. Same-sex couples were previously granted civil partnerships in 2004, though the government was adamant that these partnerships were not, in fact, marriages. The law came into effect in March 2014, with the UK’s first same-sex marriages happening on 29 March 2014. Northern Ireland didn’t legalise same-sex marriage until 2020. 

Bell V Tavistock

In September 2021, judges overturned the 2020 High Court Ruling preventing trans people under 16 to consent to puberty blockers following the Bell V Tavistock case. In the year the ruling was active, gender clinic referrals for trans people under the age of 18 were halted. 

Where do we go from here?

DIVA continues to advocate alongside other LGBTQI organisations for better rights for our community in the UK. The neglect of trans, non-binary and intersex people in the government’s recent conversion therapy ban is an ongoing fight led by charities such as Mermaids. We must continue to fight for IVF equality, which still discriminates against LGBTQI people wanting to start a family.

Charities like Stonewall and Rainbow Migration are leading the fight in equal rights, support and safe migration for LGBTQI refugees. UK Black Pride continues to fight for the rights of LGBTQI BPOC, who are often overlooked.

The UK still has some way to go in equal LGBTQI rights, but across the last 50 years we have many things to be proud of this Pride month!

DIVA magazine celebrates 28 years in print in 2022. If you like what we do, then get behind LGBTQI media and keep us going for another generation. Your support is invaluable. 
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