A Timeline of Significant LGBTQ+ Events in the UK and US
Updated: Aug 22
1967: The Sexual Offences Act 1967 legalised homosexual acts on the grounds that they were consensual and in private between LGBTQ+ individuals over the age of 21, despite the Wolfenden Report recommending the above 10 years prior.
1970: The Gay Liberation Front (GLR) is founded at the London School of Economics (LSE) on 13th October. The founding of GLF was modelled on the Stonewall Rebellion in the US on 28th June 1969.
1971: The Nullity of Marriage Act 1971 is passed. This explicitly banned marriages between LGBTQ+ couples in England and Wales.
1972: The first ever British Gay Pride Rally was held in London with over 1,000 people marching from Trafalgar Square to Hyde Park.
1974: Maureen Colquhoun came out as the first gay woman MP for the Labour Party. After she did so, her party refused to support her re-election bid.
1981: The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in Dudgeon v United Kingdom invalidated Northern Ireland’s criminalisation of homosexual acts between consenting LGBTQ+ adults.
The first UK case of AIDS was recorded.
1984: Chris Smith, a Labour MP, is the first openly out male MP in Parliament. He states this in his first parliamentary speech and, in 2005, is the first MP to say he is HIV+.
1987: Clause 28, as part of the Local Government Act 1988, stipulated that no local authority or public body could intentionally promote homosexuality, with an emphasis on not teaching it in schools. This was repealed in Scotland in 2000 and in England and Wales in 2003.
Diana, Princess of Wales, famously shakes hand and hugs those undergoing HIV treatment at the first ward dedicated to combatting the disease at Middlesex Hospital.
1989: In response to the implementing of Clause 28, Stonewall UK is set up.
1990: The first Gay Pride event is held in Manchester.
1992: The first Pride Festival was held in Brighton.
The first ever EuroPride is held in London, with an estimated crowd of 100,000 in attendance.
1997: Angela Eagle, a Labour MP, is the first openly gay woman in Parliament. Unlike Colquhoun, she comes out on her own terms.
1998: Lord Alli, a Labour Party life peer, is the first openly gay man to sit in the House of Lords, as well one of few openly gay Muslims to sit in the Upper Chamber.
1999: The Admiral Duncan, a gay pub in Soho, was bombed by a former BNP member. 3 people were killed and 70 were injured.
Stephen Twigg becomes the first openly gay male politician to be elected to Parliament, as well as Michael Cashman sitting in the European Parliament.
2002: The Adoption and Children Act 2002 allows LGBTQ+ persons, married or not, to adopt children.
Alan Duncan is the first Conservative MP to come out as a gay man on his own terms.
2004: The Civil Partnership Act 2004 is passed, allowing all LGBTQ+ couples to have the same rights as heterosexual couples. The Act also allows for any transgender individuals to get a new birth certificate with their true sex which, currently, are still defined as either ‘male’ or ‘female’.
2010: The Equality Act 2010 is passed which prohibits anyone being unfairly fired from their job because of their sexual orientation or gender. 9 features are classified as a “protected characteristic”.
Margot James, a Conservative MP, is the first openly gay woman to sit with the party.
2013: The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 is passed, legalising same-sex marriage in England and Wales. Scotland takes similar steps months later.
2018: Lord Ivar Mountbatten marries his partner, James Coyle. He is the first member of the British Royal Family to have a gay wedding.
2019: Laverne Cox is chosen by Megan Markle as 1 of 15 women to be a guest editor on the September 2019 issue of British Vogue. Cox, therefore, is the first openly transgender woman to appear on the cover of the magazine in its 103-year history.
The general election in December sees 54 open MPs from the LGBTQ+ community being elected into the Commons. Therefore, 8% of the Commons identifies as LGBTQ+.
2020: In January, same-sex marriage becomes legal in Northern Ireland with the first ceremony taking place in February. The Family of Nations has equal laws regarding same-sex marriage.
Christie Elan-Cane loses their case in the Court of Appeal, asking for a ‘X’ category to be included on passports as to a person’s gender to make it more inclusive for those who identify as non-binary or gender neutral.
1969: The Stonewall Rebellion started after local police raided the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, Manhattan, attacking and arresting visitors of the Inn for no reason.
1970: The first ever Pride marches are held in New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago.
1973: The American Psychiatric Association declassifies homosexuality as a mental disorder.
1975: Elaine Noble is elected as a Representative in the Massachusetts House of Representative. She is the first openly gay women elected into a state legislature in the US.
1976: Harvey Milk is the first openly gay man elected to a public office in California and the US when he becomes a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.
1978: Harvey Milk and the Mayor of San Francisco, George Moscone, are assassinated by Daniel White in a meeting at City Hall.
Gilbert Baker designs the now famous rainbow flag for the 1978 San Francisco Gay Freedom Celebration.
1979: The White Night Riots erupt after Daniel White is only charged with the voluntary manslaughter of Milk and Moscone. After protesters peacefully marched to City Hall, violence erupted and the local Police retaliated by raiding a nearby gay bar in the Castro District.
1994: “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is implemented for the Armed Forces in the US. Anyone from the LGBTQ+ community could not be fired for identifying the way they did. However, they could not be recruited by them if they were openly out. It was repealed by President Obama in 2011.
1998: Tammy Baldwin becomes the first openly gay person and woman elected to the House of Representatives. She would later go on to be elected as the first openly gay person and woman in the Senate from Wisconsin in 2013.
Matthew Shephard and Rita Hester are both murdered in hate crimes because of their respected identities as a gay man and a transgender African-American woman.
Hester’s death sparked calls for a Transgender Day of Remembrance which was founded a year later and is held annually on 20th November.
2003: The United States Supreme Court ruled in Lawrence v Texas that same-sex sexual activity should be legal in all US states and territories.
2009: The Matthew Shephard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act 2009 is passed. Anybody who is targeted in a crime because of their gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability can be charged with a hate crime and requires the FBI to track statistics on this, too.
2015: The United States ruled in Obergefell v Hodges that everyone, regardless of sexuality, has the right to marry who they love, making it the law of the land in all 50 States.
2016: A terrorist attack on the gay Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida kills 49 and injures 53. They are now remembered as the 49 Angels. <3
2018: Phillipe Cunningham is elected as the first openly transgender African-American man elected into a public office in the US by sitting on the Minneapolis City Council.
Andrea Jenkins make history for the same reason by being the first openly transgender African-American woman to serve in an elected role. She sits as the Vice President on the Minneapolis City Council.
Danica Roem was the first openly transgender person to be elected and serve in a US state’s legislature. She sits in the Virginia House of Delegates.
Sharice Davids is elected as one of the first two Native American women in the House of Representatives and the first gay congresswoman from Kansas.
2019: Jared Polis is the first openly gay man to be elected and serve as the governor of a US state. He is the Governor of Colorado.
President Trump signs an Executive Order, Directive-type Memorandum-19-004, which says that transgender personal in the US military are not allowed, in anyway, to serve or enlist in their true and new sex. They must, according to the above, serve in their sex assigned at birth. The Directive was due to expire in March 2020, but has been extended to expire in September 2020.
Pete Buttigieg is the first openly gay male presidential candidate to seek the nomination from a major party.
2020: The Trump Administration asks the Supreme Court to make it legal to ban LGBTQ+ couples from adopting children.
The Trump Administration also announced it was gutting transgender healthcare protections enshrined after the passing of the Affordable Care Act 2010, commonly known as Obamacare. The new rule would remove gender identity as a ground for sex discrimination.
Recently, the US Supreme Court announced that no employer could fire an employee because of their gender identity or sexual orientation. This was predominantly focused on whether those who were transgender could be fired from their job as one of the claimants/plaintiffs, Aimee Stephens, brought the case after being unfairly fired from her job because she was transgender. The court ruled 6-3 in her case’s favour.
An International Perspective on LGBTQ+ Marriage
According to the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA World), gay marriage is now legal in 30 countries.
Holland was the first country to allow it in 2001.
Belgium, Spain, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Portugal, Denmark, France, Luxembourg, Finland, Malta, Germany and Austria.
Latin/ South America
Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Colombia and Costa Rica.
Canada, the US and Mexico.
Angola and South Africa.
Australia and New Zealand.
Furthermore, the ILGA says that homosexuality is illegal in 70 nations, with an increasing number of Commonwealth countries, such as Brunei last year, bringing in anti-LGTBQ+ laws which could result in the death penalty and imprisonment.