"However, this was followed by a spread in AIDS terror which rather put a halt on gay rights as scaremongering and widespread panic replaced any sympathy for the case."
As we move closer to Gay Pride, naturally the team at Blued are feeling a tad nostalgic, looking back to last year’s festivities and reminiscing over all that good clean fun – we are pretty similar to the Brady bunch in our offices. But, on a more serious note all this looking back has got us thinking about the present and where we are today. So in honour of Gay Pride we thought we would do an overview – a look at where we Brits are up to with our LGBT rights.
From death sentence penalty to Political advances
We have definitely come a long way since the Bugger Act of 1533 where gay sex was punishable by death, although sadly the decriminalisation of same sex intercourse only occurred relatively recently starting in 1967 with the Sexual Offences Act which decriminalised homosexual acts between two men over the age of 21 as long as they did so in private. Yes, indeed you are reading that correctly only 50 years it was, basically, illegal to be gay. And in fact, it wasn’t until 1974 that England had its first openly gay MP, an exceptionally brave woman named Maureen Colquhoun, who was sadly rejected by her party once her sexual inclinations became public knowledge. It wasn’t until 1984 that an MP was openly accepted by both party and people as gay.
However, this was followed by a spread in AIDS terror which rather put a halt on gay rights as scaremongering and widespread panic replaced any sympathy for the case. Sadly, it wasn’t until 1994, less than 10 years ago, when gay rights were put back on the political and map and we saw some actual movement forward. In 1994 Edwina Currie introduced an amendment to lower the age of consent for LGBTs from 21 to 16 in line with heteronormative regulation, although gay sex is still only permitted in private, and even in the late nineties men were still being prosecuted for having sex in public – which could mean anything from the local park to a hotel room or for having a threesome, which happened as recently as 1998 in Bolton.
Where we are now
At the turn of the millennium, gay rights in Britain did start to take some positive steps forward which included allowing gay men to service in the armed forced as well as, finally, reducing the age of consent to 16. A huge moment for gay rights came in 2002 when same-sex couples were granted equal rights to adopt which was quickly followed by the civil partnership act in 2004 which gave same-sex couples to right to get married The first civil partnership took place in 2005 when Matthew Roche and Christopher Cramp got married in December of that year – what a Christmas! Not only that, but the Gender Recognition Act was passed in 2004 which allowed transsexual people the opportunity to change the gender on their birth certificates – a pretty big year for LGBT rights.
As we look forward to gay pride of 2017 there is still much left to fight for. Gay marriage is still illegal in 72 nations while the death penalty is still legal in 8 countries and, as we have already reported, we are seeing gay concentration camps in Russia and overt homophobia in others. So this year on gay pride – enjoy, celebrate, but do also take a moment to consider those who are less fortune and how we as a community must continue to stand together.