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LGBT Acceptance - The History and What Still Needs to Happen

LGBT rights came into place following the decriminalisation of sexual activity between men that lasted for years in Britain and is still seen globally today. However, the legal restrictions upon this has never been the same for sexual activity between women despite them still being a part of the LGBT community.

As per The Buggery Act of 1533 any kind of sexual activity between men was punishable by death in the United Kingdom. Whilst this is still the case in multiple countries around the world there has been significant progress in the UK since then…

The Law

The criminal law amendment act of 1885 was used to send Oscar Wilde to prison in 1895 however later on The Wolfenden report in 1957 suggested that “Homosexual behaviour between consenting adults in private should no longer be a criminal offence”.

This was officialised in 1967 when the Sexual offences act stated that “Private sex acts between consenting men over 21 would not be a criminal offence in England and Wales”. Scotland followed in 1980 and Northern Ireland in 1982.

The first ever gay pride event took place in 1972 when around 2,000 gay men and women participated in London’s gay pride. In addition to this, a Lesbian and Gay news media archive stated that “Gay rights organisations were springing up locally and nationally”. This was a huge step up from those who are LGBT being seen as criminals who needed to be punished.

However, despite this progress, in 1988 Margaret Thatcher banned state schools from teaching and promoting the “acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship” which was a massive step back for gay rights in England despite all the progress previously made.

It then took until 2004 for the Civil Partnership act to allow same sex couples to enter same sex unions with the same rights as married couples. In addition to this, on 29th March 2014 marriage of same sex couples was legalised in England. Scotland followed in December 2014. However, in Northern Ireland it remained illegal until January 2020.

Whilst same sex marriage is now legal in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland it is still frowned upon and is even illegal in other countries globally.

So, what still needs to be done globally for gay rights?

As of 2020, 70 countries criminalise same sex relationships and there is evidence of the death penalty still being used as a punishment in 11 of these countries. Furthermore, in over half of the world LGBT is not protected from discrimination in the workplace by law and around a quarter of the world’s population believe that LGBT should be a crime. Moreover, multiple governments worldwide deny trans people the right to legally change their name and gender from those they were assigned at birth.

In addition to this, surveys have shown that one in eight/13% have dealt with some form of inequality within healthcare services because they are a part of the LGBT community. As well as this, almost one in four/23% of LGBT people have witnessed negative comments upon others within the LGBT community by healthcare workers.

Moreover, the TransActual Trans Lives Survey results showed that seven in ten trans people (70%) report being impacted by transphobia when accessing health services and nearly half (45%) said their GP did not understand their needs as a trans person.

All in all, whilst gay rights have significantly improved over the years, there is still so much that needs to be done worldwide for all aspects of the LGBT community.


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