A Timeline of Lesbian Rights & History UK 1480 - 2020s

In the timeline of lesbian history in the UK, though lesbianism has never been illegal in Britain, lesbians have suffered discrimination. In this thorny timeline of Lesbian Rights in the UK, some UK lesbian rights milestones may surprise you? Thank you to ALL the lesbians who have bravely fought for lesbian rights and lesbian visibility in their own ways. Sorry to those lesbians who went through (and are still going through) some v pish times in the uK and across the world. The equality of Gay rights (LGBT+), must continue not on only in the UK, but, across the world. I hope this timeline of Lesbian Rights gives you a wee umph, out of possible compliancy/apathy to keep the fight ongoing for the community.

Key dates of Lesbian Equality UK: Pre-17c | 18c | 19c | 20c | 21c + Some LGBTQ+ Support Websites

Also do check out:
Lesbian Terminology Timeline   |   Lesbian Visibilty Game   |   Lesbians Who Made History Quiz   |   UK Women's Rights Timeline


Lesbian Visibility In Historical Records

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

A Caveat :) Across the world, Lesbian visibility in historical records are H.A.R.D to find. Within this sketchy timeline of Lesbian Rights (& history) in the UK, please forgive me for any unintentional mistakes, misinterpretations, inaccuracies (particularly, the UK Acts, which I got my knickers in a twist) or omissions. Do, please get in touch if you wish me to add a Lesbian Rights milestone / make an amend.

UK Lesbian Rights Timeline: compared to gay men, in the UK, lesbians have had relatively, a better ride. In the past British gay men were imprisoned and in some cases, executed while homosexuality has always been legal for women in the UK. Having lovely gay pals, I can't exclude a heart-felt mega brief glimpse, at the end of the timeline, in to their fight for equality.

Two Women (Lesbian Lovers?) Buried Together In Etchingham, England

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

1480 - Brass Memorial of Agnes Oxenbridge and Elizabeth Etchingham: On the floor of the side aisle of The Assumption of Blessing Mary and St. Nicholas Church, in the small village of Etchingham, England, there is a brass memorial from 1480, commemorating two women buried together: Elizabeth Etchingham (died 3 December 1452) and Agnes Oxenbridge (died 4 August 1480). A Latin inscription under Elizabeth Etchingham identifies her as the first-born daughter of Thomas and Margaret Etchingham, died on December 3, 1452. The inscription under Agnes Oxenbridge identifies her as the daughter of Robert Oxenbridge, died August 4, 1480, and asks for God’s mercy upon them. Elizabeth was in her mid-twenties when she died, while Agnes died almost three decades later when she was in her mid-fifties.

Hmmm... could they be lesbians? They defo weren't mother and daughter. When Agnes died, it was abnormal that she be buried not in her own family's Oxenbridge mausoleum but rather with Elizabeth in the Etchingham’s church. Both women must have requested to be buried together and both families must have considerately agreed for it to happen.

In the brass etching:

  • Unmarried - They are identically dressed. Elizabeth, on the left, is depicted with loose hair flowing down to her hips while Agnes, on the right, is considerably larger than Elizabeth, and her hair is tightly coifed, but not covered. The difference in height and hair styles most likely reflects their age difference at death. The lack of a head covering on either woman suggests that they were unmarried.
  • "Special" relationship - Agnes and Elizabeth appear to be in motion towards each other, with their skirts spread backwards and their bodies angled forward and, they are looking into each other’s eyes. The specially designed brass memorial romantically suggests that the space between them was finally ended by death. Check out Remembering Elizabeth Etchingham and Agnes Oxenbridge by Judith M. Bennett

The Buggery Act

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

1533 - The Buggery Act This Act of Parliament, moved the issue of "sodomy" from the ecclesiastical courts to the state. The Buggery Act did not explicitly target homosexual acts between men as it also applied to sodomy between men and women and a person with an animal. The precise sexual acts described as "sodomy" were rarely defined in the law, but are typically understood by courts to include any sexual act deemed to be "immoral" or "unnatural" e.g. anal sex, oral sex, and bestiality. However, it was male homosexual convictions that were by far the most common and publicised. Convictions under the Buggery Act were punishable by death.

  • 1828: Offences Against the Person Act - The Buggery Act was repealed and replaced by the Offences Against the Person Act 1828. The new language of the law focused on male same-sex activity explicitly, where the Buggery Act had applied to men and women collectively. Homosexual acts between men remained punishable by death.

First Scottish Sapphic Poem!

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

1586 - Poem 49, a Sapphic love poem written in Scots, which appears in the Maitland Quarto manuscript (containing 95 poems) is one the earliest known instances of sapphic poetry in Europe, since Sappho herself. Although anonymous, research suggests the Poem 49 was most likely written by Marie Maitland, a daughter of Sir Richard Maitland of Lethington (East Lothian, Scotland).

Though the author of Poem 49 is anonymous the poem is unambiguously written in the voice of a woman and is addressed to another woman: praising the bond between two women in a way that is homoerotic rather than platonic. Check out an in-depth interpretation (and partial translation) of Poem 49. Good luck reading it in Scots!

3e weild me holie at 3our will [Ye govern me wholly at your will] and raviss [ravish] my affectioun...

Poem 49 of the Maitland Quarto Manuscript read by Ashley Douglas.

Early Reference To Lesbianism In UK Literature (by a male)

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

1601 - One of the earliest references to lesbianism in UK literature is via English playwright and poet Ben Jonson's 1601 poem Praeludium (Poem X in The Forest):

Or, with thy tribade trine, invent new sports

and in his 1605 comedy play Volpone.

LADY P:...
Than thus to be the patron, or St. George,
To a lewd harlot, a base fricatrice,
A female devil, in a male outside.

Fricatrice and confricatrice were a synonym for the term tribade defined in the Oxford Dictionary as a lesbian. The etymology of Tribade via Latin tribas a lesbian, from Greek tribein to rub thus producing the delightlful term Tribbing = ... scissoring!

Lesbian Tried As A Witch In Scotland

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

Agnes Mitchell and Maud Galt - in September 1649, Agnes Mitchell, lodged a complaint against her employer, Maud Galt of Kilbarchan (Scotland), at a Kirk Session when she accused her of... "abusing ane of hir servants with ane peis of clay formed lyk the secreit member of ane man". Agnes presented a clay phallus (17th-century sex-toy) as evidence which Maud allegedly used on her. Agnes described multiple instances in which Galt allegedly attempted to rape several servants, and also the servants of her neighbours. Two neighbours testified and several victims also reported "suffering misfortune" from Galt.

The Privy Council abandoned the sexual assault charge and decided to investigate the case under the charge of witchcraft. Historian Julian Goodare, is of the opinion that Galt's case demonstrated that "the shocked authorities found the idea of witchcraft easier to cope with than lesbianism." No further legal action in regards to Maud Galt is recorded and Galt eventually died in 1670.

Actresses Play Male Roles On Stage

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

Travesti - until the late 17th century in England, and the late 18th century in the Papal States, the presence of real women on stage was considered immoral so women were portrayed by male actors in drag. With the Restoration of Charles II in 1660, women started appearing on the English stage, both in female and male roles. In the mid-17th century Travesti ("pseudo-French/Italian" for "to disguise") was used as a theatrical term referring to the portrayal of a character in an opera, play, or ballet by a performer of the opposite sex. Amongst the 19th century actresses who made a mark in travesti roles were Mary Anne Keeley, Maude Adams and Sarah Bernhardt.

A Female Same-sex Marriage Is Annulled

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

Arabella Hunt and her husband James Howard - on 12 September 1680, Arabella Hunt (a St James's Palace soprano and lutenist) married James Howard at St Marylebone Parish Church. By the end of the first year of marriage Arabella brought a case against her husband at the Consistory Court of London. Arabella sought an annulment from James stating that James was not a... man, but a woman called Amy Poulter (née Gomeldon). Moreover, Arabella claimed her "husband" was an hermaphrodite. James/Amy was examined by five midwives who determined she was a 'perfect woman in all her parts'. And to top of it off, at the time of their marriage, James/Amy was already married to a man called Arthur Poulter, who had only recently died. Eventually the marriage was annulled on 15 December 1682, on the basis that two women could not legally marry each other.

The case received much tabloid press and it is believed Amy Poulter committed suicide soon after. Arabella's fame, however, continued to go from strength to strength as the muse of Henry Purcell and Dr John Blow who wrote operas inspired by her magnificent soprano. Forgive me... I am a bit confused... Arabella never married and it is believed she had affairs with Aphra Behn (an English playwright), Nell Gwyn (an English actress and mistress of Charles II) and numerous women courtiers.

A Timeline of Lesbian Rights UK: 18c

A British Bi Queen?

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

Was Anne, Queen of Great Britain a lesbian as conveyed in the award-winning movie, The Favourite? There is ongoing debate if Anne's, Queen of Great Britain, friendship with Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough was indeed ... steamy. When their "friendship" soured, some report that Sarah blackmailed Anne with letters revealing their intimacy, and accused her of perverting the course of national affairs by keeping "lesbian" favourites.

Regardless of, if Anne, Queen of Great Britain was not a lesbian / bi - one surely has to have empathy with her due to her totally, inconceivable tragedy of losing 18 children through miscarriage, stillbirth and early death.

Lesbian Marriages In Cheshire Church Books?

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

Apparently there are two unfathomable entries from the marriage register of the parish of Taxal, Cheshire which may indicate two lesbian marriages which was discovered in 2017, in the Cheshire Archives, during a heritage lottery-funded project "From Prejudice to Pride":

  • 1707: Hannah Wright and Anne Gaskill - Parish of Prestbury. 4th September 1707.
  • 1708: Ane Norton and Alice Pickford - Parish of Prestbury. 3rd June 1708.

1710: Another example of a possible sapphic relationship documented in a religious building is that of Mary Kendall (1677 – 1710) who was buried in the chapel of St John the Baptist in Westminster Abbey, London. Mary Kendall's monument, depicts a kneeling alabaster figure of Mary Kendall with an inscription, written by the Dean of Westminster Francis Atterbury, reads:

" ... that close uion and friendship in which she liv'd with the Lady CATHERINE JONES; and in testimony of which she desir'd that even their ashes, after death, might not be divided: and, therefore, order'd her selfe here to be interr'd where, she knew, that excellent Lady design'd one day to rest, near the grave of her belov'd and religious mother, ELIZABETH, Countess of RANELAGH... "

Lady Catherine Jones (1672 – 1740) was an English philanthropist, who advocated women's rights and education.

One Of The Earliest Uses Of "Lesbian" In English Literature?

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

It's hard to pin down when the term "Lesbian" to describe a gay women came in to use in the UK. No teaching to the converted as to the etymology of the term. In English literature one of the earliest mentions of the term "Lesbian" is in English academic and writer, William King's poem "The Toast", in 1722:

A nobler Verse – The British Myra sings;
The mighty Thing, which Lesbian Loves began,

"Female Husbands"

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

The term "female husband" to describe some one who was born as a woman, but was living as a man and who married another woman, was used in 17th Century.

  • 1731: A "female husband" blackmailed - in 1731, Mary East put on masculine clothing, assumed the name of James How, and took on a small public house at Epping with another woman. At the White Horse public house at Poplar, the two women lived together as man and wife for eighteen years. James How established a very good reputation serving on parish offices, and was occasionally a foreman on juries. The secret of James How's real gender was discovered by a woman who had known her in her youth. The couple became the victims of escalating blackmail which became unbearable. James How returned to dressing as a woman and in 1766, Mary courageously prosecuted a blackmailer, William Barwick, for extorting considerable sums of money from her, for concealing her sex. William Barwick was convicted and sentenced to stand four times in a pillory (a wooden framework with holes for the head and hands, in which offenders were formerly imprisoned and exposed to public abuse) and to four years' imprisonment. Though they gave up the White Horse the ladies remained together spending 39 years to together.
  • 1829: "Female husband", who successfully lived as a man without facing prosecution for 21 years - James Allen married Abigail (née Naylor) in 1808 at St Giles' Church, Camberwell, London. In January 1829, James was involved in a tragic accident whilst working in a sawpit in Dockhead - a piece of timber fell from the top of the pit and struck James' head, immediately killing him. When James' body was taken to St Thomas' Hospital it was discovered that James had a female anatomy. On identifying his body, his wife Mary said that she had no knowledge of this.

In many instances, the "female husband" was presented as having deceived the bride and was accused of defrauding her, for example:

  • 1746: A "female husband" sentenced to whippings and six months imprisonment - quack doctor, Charles Hamilton married Mary Price on 16 July 1746 in Wells, Somerset. For two months, the "happy" couple travelled together, before Mary decided she had been cheated upon into believing Hamilton was a... man - Charles Hamilton was actually... Mary Hamilton.. a woman. Wife Mary reported her husband to the authorities in Glastonbury who was arrested and tried at the summer Quarter Sessions in Taunton, Somerset. According to the local newspaper report, "There was a great Debate for some Time in Court about the Nature of her Crime, and what to call it, but at last it was agreed that she should be charged with fraud." A woman dressing as a man was not illegal but apparently Charles Hamilton had deceitfully undertaken penetrative sex. Hamilton was prosecuted under the Vagrancy Act of 1744, and was sentenced to a whipping (she was publicly whipped in the four market towns of Taunton, Glastonbury, Wells, and Shipton-Mallet) and to six months imprisonment. Under the title The "female husband", Henry Fielding anonymously published a popular fictionalised account of the case.
  • 1760: A wife under social pressure brought a case against her "female husband" - going by the name Samuel Bundy, Sarah Paul, married Mary Parlour in Southwark, London, in 1759. Soon after, Samuel quit his job as he had a dispute with her former employer and received financial support from Mary, who even pawned her clothes. Having had experience as a sailor Samuel found work on the Prince Frederick man of war (ship), but ran away from it for fear of his real gender being discovered. Thereafter, he found work on board a merchant ship but ran away from that to return to the Mary, whom he missed. For circa six months Mary patiently waited for the marriage to be consummated as Samuel pretended to suffer from bad distemper. Somehow neighbours caught wind of this and insisted upon "searching" Samuel to which they discovered, to their great surprise, the husband was a female. Under pressure Mary brought a case against Sarah Paul yet still showed love and friendship to Sarah by keeping her company in her confinement in Southwark Bridewell. As Mary did not appear at the trial, the magistrate discharged Sarah but ordered her man's apparel to be burned in his presence, and stipulated that she was never to appear in that character again.
  • 1777: A "female husband" sentenced for money fraud - Ann Marrow was found guilty "for going in man's cloaths, and personating a man in marriage, with three different women, ... and defrauding them of their money and effects". Ann was sentenced to three months in prison, and to stand in the pillory at Charing Cross where she was pelted so severely, that she was blinded in both eyes.

Female "Romantic Friendships"

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

In the UK, unlike male homosexuality, female homosexuality has never been a criminal offence. As a queer gal, with loads of amazing gay pals, my heart goes out to male victims who were who were executed for homosexual acts and imprisoned in the UK. Female homosexuality, however, has been frowned upon and as a consequence, pre-20th century, out "lesbians" are difficult to discover. Some were...

  • 1770: Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire - the letters between English socialite Georgiana and Mary Graham (wife of Scottish aristocrat Thomas Graham, 1st Baron Lynedoch), and later Lady Elizabeth Foster, suggest that they were "romantic friends".
  • 1780: The Ladies of Llangollen - Eleanor Butler and Sarah Ponsonby were two very posh Irish women who defiantly escaped to a Welsh Gothic mansion, Plâs Newydd, in Llangollen to live their lives together in sapphic bliss for fifty years.
  • 1806: Anne Lister - a Yorkshire gentlewoman, wrote diaries, which contain over four million words and are written largely in secret code, documenting a lifetime of lesbian relationships. One sixth of Anne Lister's diaries are encrypted in code which was derived from a combination of algebra and Ancient Greek. It was deciphered by John Lister (a descendant) and his friend Arthur Burrell, in the early 1930s.

A Timeline of Lesbian Rights UK: 19c

A Scottish Lesbian School Teachers Scandal

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

The Scottish court case Woods and Pirie vs Dame Cumming Gordon involved two teachers who were accused of having a lesbian relationship by a pupil, which became the inspiration of Lillian Hellman's 1934 play The Children's Hour.

In 1809, Miss Jane Pirie opened a fashionable and respectable girls' school in Drumsheugh Gardens, Edinburgh with her friend and co-founder Miss Marianne Woods (1781–1870). A year later, a 16-year-old pupil, Jane Cumming told her grandmother Lady Helen Cumming Gordon that Pirie and Woods "engaged in irregular sexual practices" and "lewd and indecent behaviour" in... the SAME bed in which Jane Cumming, was supposedly sleeping. The pupil also told her grandmother that such shenanigans between the two women went on regularly both in her bed and in the bed in the next room in which another pupil, Janet Munro, slept. Mortified, Lady Cumming Gordon immediately withdrew her granddaughter from the school and persuaded the other pupils' parents to remove their daughters too. Within 48 hours, Jane and Marianne no longer had any pupils attending their school.

Denying the allegations, in 1811, Jane Pirie and Marianne Woods sued Lady Cumming Gordon for £10,000 at the Court of Sessions in Edinburgh, the highest court in Scotland, for damages, complaining that Lady Cumming Gordon had destroyed their business and damaged their reputations. In court, Jane and Marianne admitted that they often visited each other in bed to discuss the day’s events and to plan future activities for their pupils’ welfare and education and also argued, that they both suffered from rheumatism and would often massage each other's back to explain the... shaking bed. Hmm. Miss Pirie and Miss Woods lost their case - three judges believed they were innocent ­victims of malice - one, Lord Meadowbank, declared sex between women "equally imaginary with witchcraft, sorcery or carnal copulation with the devil". Four judges, however, could not conceive of a young girl concocting such a scandalous story.

Jane and Marianne appealed and on February 26, 1812, won - 4-3. Furious Lady Cumming Gordon then took the case to the House of Lords but the case was dismissed in favour of the teachers and Lady Cumming Gordon was ordered to pay compensation. With much wrangling over the restitution, the ruined school teachers eventually ended up with little more than £1,000 after paying ruinous legal costs. Nor could they escape the scandal which meant the two women could never teach in Edinburgh again. Miss Woods found a part-time teaching job in London while Miss Pirie stayed in Edinburgh and unable to find employment, was left in poverty and poor health.

First Female Surgeon UK With A Twist

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

Dr J Barry successfully passed the examination of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, having previously graduated in 1812 as Medicinae Doctor (MD) at University of Edinburgh Medical School. In 1857, Dr J Barry achieved the highest accolade as Inspector General of Hospitals in the British army (equivalent to Brigadier General). Not until Dr J Barry's death in 1865, was it discovered Dr James Barry was a... woman, born Margaret Ann Bulkley! She is now recognised as the first qualified and practicing female surgeon in the UK.

One of the first Transgender Passports?

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

1827 - Mary Shelley (the famous English novelist who wrote the Gothic novel Frankenstein) helped arrange passports for her Scottish writer friend Walter Sholto Douglas (whose pen name David Lyndsay) and his wife Isabella to travel to France. Nothing strange in that? Walter / David was... born Mary Diana Dods. Mary needed some form of paperwork to help establish her new identity as a He.

FYI The British passport first came in to use during the reign of Henry V, in the form of a "safe conduct" document, as a means of helping his subjects prove who they were in foreign lands. The earliest reference to these documents is found in the Safe Conducts Act 1414.

The "Man-Woman" of Manchester

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

In 1838, Ann Stokes approached a Manchester magistrate about getting a formal separation from her husband Harry, a special constable and bricklayer. Ann couldn't cope with Harry's drunken rages and withholding her housekeeping money. Moreover, she was also seeking advice as Harry was "not a man but a woman". The shocked magistrate contacted the police and Harry was examined by a police surgeon who issued a certificate declaring that Harry was a indeed a woman. The Deputy Constable of Manchester mediated between Ann and Harry, and Ann ended up keeping the house and belongings. Surprisingly, there was no talk of any immoral or criminal behaviour having occurred between Ann and Harry even though same sex marriage was illegal.

Harry became the talk of the town, the story was covered in the local press and ballads were composed about him which were sung in taverns and street corners. Undeterred, Harry began a relationship with local barmaid Francis Collins. In 1859, Harry was found drowned in the River Irwell and newspapers claimed that he was found standing upright, and only spotted thanks to his top hat floating on the surface of the water. Abi Hynes wrote a play in 2016 Mister Stokes: The Man-Woman of Manchester.

The First Nursing School In The World - Founded By A ... Lesbian?

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

Florence Nightingale established The Nightingale School of Nursing in 1860 at St Thomas' Hospital, London - the first nursing school in the world. The School is now part of King's College, London, and known as The Florence Nightingale School of Nursing and Midwifery. Was Florence Nightingale a Friend of Dorothy? Much speculation! She rebuffed at least four proposals and never married. In a memoir she states, "I have lived and slept in the same beds with English Countesses and Prussian farm women. No woman has excited passions among women more than I have".

The Spark of The Suffrage Movement

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

The first mass women's suffrage petition to the House of Commons - on 7 June 1866, MP John Stuart Mill, presented the first mass women's suffrage petition to the House of Commons. The petition by 1,499 women & LGBTQ called for women's suffrage, and was brought to Parliament by Emily Davies and Elizabeth Garrett. Although this petition was unsuccessful, the Fawcett Society (a membership charity which campaigns for women's rights, founded in 1866) marks this as the start of the organised campaign for the vote for women.

  • 1918: The Representation of the People Act of 1918 - granted the vote to women over the age of 30 who met a property qualification. The same Act, however, gave the vote to all men over the age of 21 and abolished almost all property qualifications for men.
  • 1928: The Representation of the People (Equal Franchise) Act 1928 - gave women electoral equality with men by giving the vote to all women over 21 years old, regardless of property ownership.
  • 1970: The Representation of the People Act 1969 - lowered the voting age from 21 to 18, with effect from 1970.
  • 2013: Scottish Independence Referendum Act 2013 - allowed 16-year-olds to vote for the first time, BUT only in Scotland and only in that particular Scottish Independence Referendum. Shame, Scotland didn't keep it for the Brexit vote!

Queer Term: Homosexual

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

The first known appearance of the word homosexual in print is found in a 1869 German pamphlet by the Austrian-born novelist Karl-Maria Kertbeny, published anonymously, arguing against a Prussian anti-sodomy law. However, a year earlier, on May 6, 1868, Karl Heinrich Ulrichs wrote to Kertbeny, using four new terms he had coined: "Monosexual; Homosexual; Heterosexual; und Heterogenit"

The Birth Of Lesbian Vampires

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

Irish writer of Gothic tales, Sheridan Le Fanu published the novella Carmilla, in 1872, which tells the tale of a lesbian vampire who lures young women for her mother to sacrifice. This lezza novella was the inspiration of the Roger Vadim's 1960's movie Et Mourir De Plaisir (Blood and Roses) which spawned the lesbian vampire genre!

Sappho's Poems Translated Into English

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

In 1885, a collection of the poems of Sappho were translated and published in English by Henry Thornton Wharton as Sappho: Memoir, Text, and Selected Renderings. For sure, for male titillation, Henry did not disguise the lesbian undertones of "Ode to Aphrodite".

Section 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act discussed, in the British House of Commons in the early hours of 7 August 1885, "any act of gross indecency" between men, BUT, significantly did not mention women. It's a myth that Queen Victoria did not to ban lesbianism because she did not believe lesbianism. Sadly, Section 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act did criminalise "any act of gross indecency" between men. Section 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885 was used to send Oscar Wilde to prison in 1895, for "committing acts of gross indecency with male persons".

Sexual Inversion

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

British sexologist Havelock Ellis published, in 1897, Sexual Inversion, as the first volume in a series called Studies in the Psychology of Sex. Havelock argued that homosexuality is not a disease but a natural anomaly occurring throughout human and animal history, and should be accepted, not treated. In the volume he described lesbians as being more like men, possessing male intelligence and propensity for independence, which is even more controversial as his wife playwright Edith Lees was lesbian (did she really think that). Sexual Inversion was banned in England for being obscene and not sold in England until 1936.

Dr Helen Boyle and her partner, Mabel Jones, set up the first women-run general practice in Brighton, including offering free therapy for poor women.

Gay Conversion Therapy

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

Conversion therapy treatment aims to change a person's sexual orientation or to suppress a person's gender identity. It is based on on a theory that being lesbian, gay, bi or trans is a mental illness that can be "cured". In 1899, Albert von Schrenck-Notzing, a German psychiatrist, bragged at a conference that he had turned a gay man straight through 45 hypnosis sessions and, a few trips to a brothel. This kick-started horrific gay conversion therapy - e.g. electroconvulsive therapy (i.e. sending an electric current through your brain), lobotomies (i.e. brain surgery)... Needless to say, these therapies are UTTERLY unethical and harmful.

National LGBT Survey from 2017 (a National LGBT Survey which was a self-report survey of over 108,000 people who identified as LGBT and lived in the UK):

  • 5% of (UK) respondents said they had been offered conversion in an attempt to "cur" them of being lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) in their lifetime
  • a further 2% of (UK) respondents said they had undergone conversion therapy
  • 4% of transgender respondents in the UK, said they had undergone conversion therapy, and 8% reported having been offered it

Two awful examples of corrective rape as a means of lesbian conversion therapy:

  • 2017: Angela Paterson (19 years old) was a Christian lesbian, who worshipped in an evangelical church, The Lancing Tabernacle Church in West Sussex revealed her Pastor raped her to try to "heal" of her lesbianism.
  • 2017: an unnamed British man was sentenced at Warwick Crown Court to serve more than two decades behind bars for raping his teenage daughter "to show why it would be better to have sex with men" after she confided in him that she was gay.

A Timeline of Lesbian Rights UK: 20c

First Woman GP, UK Was .. A Lesbian!

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

Dr Louisa Martindale set up a private practice in Brighton and became the first woman GP. With a group of other Brighton feminists she developed the New Sussex Hospital for Women and Children, where she was Senior Surgeon and Physician. She later became a specialist in the early treatment of cervical cancer and was appointed a CBE in 1931. Louisa lived with her partner Ismay FitzGerald for three decades, and wrote of her love for her in her autobiography A Woman Surgeon, published in 1951.

Gay Lily Parr Scores 108!

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

Scoring a whopping 108 goals, openly out Lily Parr became a legend in women's football. Lily Parr started playing as a winger for Dick, Kerr's Ladies FC. Dick, Kerr's Ladies FC was a Preston factory team formed in 1914 to boost morale amongst the female staff who had been employed to help produce ammunition for the First World War. Dick, Kerr's Ladies FC were the first women's team to wear shorts, tour the continent and the US, and raised money for charity. In June 2019, Lily Parr became the first UK female footballer commemorated with a statue which is displayed at the National Football Museum in Manchester.

First British Play Hinting At Sapphic Love

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

The Mothers (Play) - The Mothers (play) is thought to be the first British play that clearly hints at sapphic love. It was written by English writer and women's rights activist Edith Ellis (nee Lees) wife of Sexual Inversion (1897) author Havelock Ellis.

"There Are No 'Men' Or 'Women' In Urania"

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

In 1916, a privately published feminist gender studies journal was established called Urania (from the Greek goddess Aphrodite Urania). Urania was edited by Eva Gore-Booth, Irene Clyde, Dorothy Cornish, Esther Roper and Jessey Wade. Urania challenged gender stereotypes and, revolutionary for the time, advocated the abolishment of gender, declaring "There are no 'men' or 'women' in Urania."

The 1916 Easter Rising & lesbian revolutioneers - A network of lesbians living in Dublin, who had met through the suffrage movement participated in the Easter Rising. On Easter Monday 1916, Irish nationalists launched the first armed revolt against British rule in Ireland - the most significant uprising in Ireland since the rebellion of 1798. Between Monday 24 April and Sunday 29 April, 1916, The Easter Rising took place in Dublin, and a few outposts across the country. According to the Dublin Metropolitan Police 1916 Report, the Easter Rising resulted in 429 deaths and 2,582 wounded. Fourteen of the Easter Rising's leaders were executed in May 1916.

The Easter Rising lesbians included:

  • Elizabeth O'Farrell - operated as a courier and nurse. She was one of the three last women to leave the Rebel Headquarters (The General Post Office, Dublin) and it was Elizabeth O'Farrell who brought out the white flag of surrender. Elizabeth was the life long partner of Julia Grenan.
  • Helena Molony - was one of the Citizen Army soldiers who attacked Dublin Castle. She was the life long partner of doctor Evelyn O'Brien.
  • Julia Grenan - operated as a courier and nurse. She was one of the three last women to leave the Headquarters.
  • .
  • Kathleen Lynn - operated as a chief medical officer. When Sean Connolly, who was in charge of an outpost had been mortally wounded, Kathleen found herself to be the highest ranking officer of the group of 16 men and nine women stationed there and assumed command of the outpost. She was the life long partner of Madeleine ffrench-Mullen.
  • Madeleine ffrench-Mullen - worked in a first-aid tent.
  • Margaret Skinnider - operated as a scout, message runner (often dressed as a boy) and sniper. She was the life long partner of Nora O'Keeffe (Irish revolutioneer and feminist).

Of the 1,784 people who were arrested by the police in Dublin during the Easter Rising, 76 were females who had short stays in prison. Citizen Army soldier Helena Molony was imprisoned until December 1916.

Airbrushed out of history

Elizabeth O'Farrell who held the white flag of surrender was incredulously airbrushed out of this historical moment. The original photograph of surrender showed Padraig Pearse (one of the leaders of the Easter Rising) surrendering to General Lowe and his son. Only on real close inspection can one see Elizabeth O'Farrell's feet next to Padraig Pearse - this was for sure, an intended frame composition by the photographer. Later Elizabeth O'Farrell's feet were literally airbrushed out of a photograph so it showed only Padraig Pearse surrendering alone. Padraig Pearse was first of the rebels to be executed, on the morning of 3 May 1916.

Based on her involvement in the Easter Rising, in 1925, Margaret Skinnider applied for a wounded pension. Margaret had been shot three times while attempting to burn down houses on Harcourt Street to try to cut off the retreat of British soldiers who had planted a machine-gun post on the roof of the University's Church. Margaret's pension application was turned down - on the grounds of being a woman?

These lesbian ladies became prominent figures in Irish Women's History... Kathleen Lynn and Madeleine ffrench-Mullen, together with many of their female comrades, founded St Ultan's hospital, the first all-female staffed hospital for infants in Ireland.

First All-Female Ambulance Unit

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

May Toupie Lowther, known as 'Toupie', was a close friend of Radclyffe Hall, author of The Well of Loneliness and Hall who drew on some of Toupie's experiences in depicting the life and character of The Well of Loneliness and Hall's Stephen. Toupie was awarded the Croix de Guerre (a Cross of War, French military medal) for her World War One efforts, which included the creation of an all-female ambulance unit - The Hackett-Lowther Ambulance Unit. The Hackett-Lowther Ambulance Unit travelled to France and close to the front line where they retrieved the wounded using their own cars. Lowther a very talented fencer and tennis player is believed to be the first openly lesbian player in tennis.

"The Cult of the Clitoris" Court Case

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

In 1918, with a Dutch theatre impresario, J T Grein, Anglo-Canadian dancer Maud Allan intended to reprise her sensational version of Salome (The Vision of Salome) and her "Dance of the Seven Veils", in London. Not only was Oscar's play, Salome, controversial (it had been banned during rehearsals in London due to its depiction of biblical characters which was illegal and deeply contentious), Maud danced topless; her body only covered by intricate jewellery! This time, Maud's performances in London were to be private in order to escape the censorship of the Lord Chamberlain, who had banned all of Oscar Wilde's works in the aftermath of Oscar's trial. To be a private audience member one had to apply to a: Miss Valettea of 9 Duke Street Adelphi W6.

Under the sensational headline, "The Cult of the Clitoris", in his own journal Vigilante, Noel Pemberton-Billing (a British inventor, writer and Member of Parliament) implied that Maud Allan was a lesbian and a member of a "cult" of women who loved women. Moreover, Pemberton-Billing speculated that Maud's private performances of The Vision of Salome would attract a number of high-profile homosexuals, who he claimed were named in a "Black Book". 47,000 British "sexual perverts" were said to be included in this Black Book. Pemberton-Billing believed that some of the audience would be open to being blackmailed by the German government in exchange for the Germans keeping their sexuality secret - WW1 was looming.

Maud commenced criminal proceedings for obscene, criminal and defamatory libel against Noel Pemberton-Billing and the libel case opened at the Old Bailey in May, 1918. On 4th June, 1918, the jury found Pemberton-Billing... not guilty. The "Black Book" has never been found. Check out UK National Archives and spartacus-educational.com

Though Maud (understandably) denied Pemberton-Billing's accusations, she did swing for the girls. It is thought she had a special "friendship" with Margaret Asquith who was married to Herbert Asquith, UK Prime Minister (1908 - 1916). Margaret paid for Maud's apartment overlooking Regent's Park (for twenty years?), until Herbert Asquith's death in 1928. Maud managed to stay on, in the Regent's Park and lived for tens years with Verna Aldrich, her secretary and lover who was twenty years younger than Maud and who... paid the rent!

Lesbian "Acts Of Gross Indecency"

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

1921 UK Lesbian Rights - MP Frederick Macquisten proposed to make sexual "acts of gross indecency" between two women illegal but, Lord Chancellor, Frederick Smith, believed it best not to advertise lesbian "practices"! In 1921, in the House of Commons, the Conservative MP Frederick Macquisten proposed to amend the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1885 to include a section to make sexual "acts of gross indecency," between two women illegal. Macquisten advocated that the "falling away of feminine morality was to a large extent the cause of the destruction of the early Grecian civilisation, and still more the cause of the downfall of the Roman Empire." The proposed amendment was, thankfully, defeated in the House of Lords and thus never became law. In the House of Lords, the Conservative Lord Chancellor, Frederick Smith, believed it best not to advertise lesbian relations because ‘of every thousand women, taken as a whole, 999 have never even heard a whisper of these practices.’

First Woman Veterinary Surgeon UK Was ... A Lesbian!

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

In 1922, lezza Aleen Cust became the first woman MRCVS and first female veterinary surgeon to be recognised by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. Aleen Cust initally trained as a nurse at London Hospital. In 1894, she gave up nursing to train as a veterinary surgeon at William Williams' New Veterinary College (now known as the University of Edinburgh’s Veterinary School). She completed her studies, in 1900, and despite finishing top of her class and earning a gold medal for zoology, she was not allowed to sit the RCVS exams.

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) maintained that in their regulations, the word "student" implied male student. Consequently, she was unable to gain the RCVS diploma to officially become a veterinary surgeon. Nonetheless, she still pursued a career in the veterinary field. With the passing of the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act, in 1919, which stated that women could no longer be barred from any profession, the RCVS were now obliged to consider Aleen's membership. On the 21st December 1922, Aleen Cust finally was awarded her deserved diploma, becoming the first female veterinary surgeon to be recognised by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.

The Well of Loneliness Banned

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

On 16 November 1928, the chief magistrate, Sir Chartres Biron, ruled that the novel The Well of Loneliness was an "obscene libel" and ordered that it be destroyed. In July of 1928, Radclyffe Hall's The Well of Loneliness was published in which the most raciest line was... "she kissed her full on the lips like a lover". But, the protagonist, Stephen Gordon, was not a He but a... She (groovers, remember this is 1928 :). Malicious editor of The Sunday Express, James Douglas, wrote that he "would rather give a healthy boy or a healthy girl a phial of prussic acid than this novel." Subsequently, Douglas launched an evil campaign to suppress The Well of Loneliness, which rose all the way up to Britain's Home Secretary, Sir William Joynson-Hicks. The Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin, his Chancellor, Winston Churchill, and Home Secretary Sir William Joynson-Hicks went to great lengths to suppress the book. Douglas's relentless bullying pushed matters to court and a trial for the novel, The Well of Loneliness, being obscene began on November 9, 1928 at Bow Street Magistrates' Court, London.

Hall's publisher mailed 160 letters to potential witnesses who might be willing to stand against the trail. Only 57 courageous esteemed writers and scientists, replied, of which many of whom were ready to defend the novel's social and political function as a call for equality and freedom.

Documents record how the Director of Public Prosecutions, Sir Archibald Bodkin, wrote to several doctors asking for a clinical analysis of what he called "homo-sexualists". In a letter to the Regius Professor of Medicine at the University of Oxford, Sir Farquhar Buzzard, he wrote: "I want to be able to call some gentleman of undoubted knowledge, experience and position who could inform the court of the results to those unfortunate women (as I deem them) who have proclivities towards lesbianism, or those wicked women (as I deem them) who voluntarily indulge in these practices - results destructive morally, physically and even perhaps mentally."

Through Sir William Henry Willcox, consulting medical adviser to the Home Office and physician at St Mary's Hospital in London, Bodkin got the testimony he needed: "[Lesbianism] is well known to have a debasing effect on those practising it, which is mental, moral and physical in character," he said. "It leads to gross mental illness, nervous instability, and in some cases to suicide in addicts to this vice. It is a vice which, if widespread, becomes a danger to the well-being of a nation..." Willcox further elaborated that the publication of The Well of Loneliness, would risk its being read "by a large number of innocent persons, who might out of pure curiosity be led to discuss openly and possibly practise the form of vice described."

On 16 November 1928, the chief magistrate, Sir Chartres Biron, ruled that the novel The Well of Loneliness was an "obscene libel" and ordered that it be destroyed. The Well of Loneliness was finally re-published in Britain in 1949, by Falcon Press with no legal challenge, sadly after Radclyffe Hall's death.

Poignantly, Hall's contemporary, Virginia Woolf's Orlando was published on the 11 October 1928, three months later, which features a gender-shifting male nobleman who undergoes a mysterious change of sex, but Orlando was never banned.

UK's First Lesbian Bar / Club

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

Though Gateways, club opened in the 1930s as a hetty club in London, during WWII it became lesbian friendly and only became an exclusively lesbian club from 1967 onwards. Clientele would be let in the green door by using a secret code at the door! Only 35ft long, the smokey windowless cellar-like room featured a bar at one end, a jukebox opposite the bar and a fruit-machine by a pillar in the centre. In 1968, the Gateways club became internationally famous when it featured as a backdrop to many scenes in the movie The Killing Of Sister George.

Lesbanism - A Reason For Divorce

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

During debates about the Marriage Bill in 1937 (later called the Matrimonial Causes Act), Viscount Dawson of Penn argued that homosexuality should become a legitimate reason for divorce. He observed that the word 'sodomy' "involves the question of a rather vulgar crime which is only open to the male". The law, he said, should achieve "equality of the sexes [and] ought to cut both ways, and it is as much a misfortune with the woman as it is with the man. You ought to protect the man against the Lesbian just as you protect a woman against a male homo-sexualist." He lost his argument - is that again because MPs did not wish to 'advertise' Lesbanism. It's thought that this was the first usage of the word 'homosexuality' in a parliamentary debate.

First Lesbian Character In Mainstream UK Cinemas?

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

Was movie Rebecca the first movie set in England which featured a lesbian? A housekeeper, who is clearly obsessed by deceased Rebecca, and tries to drive the new wife of her employer into madness?

A Lesbian Staged Kiss Banned UK

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

On the advice of the Deputy Chief Rabbi, who described it as "offensive.. sordid... and repulsive", the play, God of Vengeance was banned in London, in 1946. Sholom Asch's play Got Fun Nekome (Yiddish for God of Vengeance) is thought to represent one of the earliest depictions of lesbians in theatre. God of Vengeance was a sensation from its Berlin premiere in 1907, sweeping Europe and crossing the Atlantic. In Broadway in 1923, God of Vengeance created a such a scandal with the first lesbian passionate kiss between two woman on stage, that the entire company was hauled into court on charges of indecency.

Rape Is Defined In Law For The First Time

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

The Sexual Offences Act of 1956 included offences of Rape which was defined for the first time under specific criteria, such as incest, sex with a girl under 16, no consent, use of drugs, anal sex and "impersonation". The act was amended in 1985 and 2003.

UK's First Lesbian Social & Political Organisation

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

The Minorities Research Group (MRG) became the UK's first lesbian social and political organisation. They went on to publish their own lesbian magazine called Arena Three, the first lesbian periodical in the UK (1963 - 1972) which also aimed to communicate with lesbians who felt socially isolation. Arena Three was only available via mail order order / subscription. Due to it being advertised in posh periodicals like the New Statesman, the readership was predominantly middle-class. Moreover, as a consequence of the times, bizarrely, the original founders of Arena Three required married women to obtain written consent from their husbands as part of their subscription requests.

The First Lesbians Interviewed on British Radio?

Timeline of Lesbian History UK

On Wednesday 31 March 1965, 12:10, on the This Time Of Day - Lesbianism, BBC Home Service radio programme, reporter Wendy Jones groundbreakingly interviewed two courageous lesbians about their lives. Was it the first Lesbians to be interviewed on British Radio? One lesbian was a psychiatrist living 'underground' and the other, a member of the Minorities Research Group who cohabited openly with her female partner. Both lesbians advocated lesbian rights at a time when their sexual orientation was seen as a "problem" to be "cured". Though the interview lasted only circa 14 minutes it would have have been a wee boost to some lesbians that felt alone. Listen to the interview at the BBC.

The first lesbians interviewed on British TV? ITV's weekly current affairs television programme "This Week - Lesbians", in 1965, attempted to answer the question ... "What is lesbianism? What causes it, "problem of homosexuality"... and can it be cured?"! The lesbians who were interviewed, emphasised the importance of love, rather than sex, in lesbian relationships, that it was a "myth" that lesbians could be recognised at first glance by "tomboy" stereotypes and that they are normal human beings like everyone else. Unlike the previous years "This Week - Homosexuals" (1964) episode, many of the lesbians interviewed showed their faces - probably because female homosexuality was not illegal. Yet those lesbians who showed their faces were still incredibly brave as they would have OUTED themselves and risked subsequent homophobia. Watch an extract of "This Week - Lesbians" on Youtube.

For reference: BBC television was launched in 2nd of November 1936 while ITV (Independent Television), the UK's third channel, first aired on 22 September 1955, at 7.15pm.

Documentary - Consenting Adults 2: The Women

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

Weeks ahead of the 1967 UK’s Sexual Offences Act coming into law, which decriminalised gay sex in private between men, BBC2's documentary and current affairs series Man Alive broadcasted two editions looking at the lives of gay men and lesbians. Man Alive: Consenting Adults 2: The Women was broadcast on BBC2 on Wednesday 14 June 1967, 20:05 which exclusively featured the lives of lesbians. Note the time - it was broadcast before the 9 pm 'watershed'. The Television Act of 1964 established 'the watershed', which sought to protect children by delaying unsuitable programmes until after 9pm. Watch Consenting Adults 2: The Women on YouTube.

Homosexuality Is Listed As A Mental Disorder

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

In 1968, the World Health Organisation, listed homosexuality as a mental disorder, at the same time as the second edition of the American Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders was published. This was crucial classification as psychologists and psychiatrists rely primarily on two classification systems and handbooks as their diagnostic and statistical tools – the DSM (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) the primary American manual, while the ICD (International Classification of Diseases) is maintained by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Frank Marcus' play‎ The Killing of Sister George premiered at the Bristol Old Vic on 20 April 1965. The play, The Killing of Sister George, tells the tale of an aging lezza "Sister George" TV actress who lives with her young female lover. Up until 1968, British theatre was at the mercy of censorship. Under the Licensing Act of 1737 and the Theatres Act of 1843 all plays intended for public performance had to be approved and licensed by the Lord Chamberlain's Office, which was a legal requirement. This was to ban anything indecent, offensive or blasphemous being performed in theatres. Theatre censorship was particularly strict on homosexuality and the depiction of gay men and women on stage. It was made into a movie in 1968, but though I have tried re-matches, I just can't watch it.

First British Gay Activist Group

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

Campaign for Homosexual Equality (CHE) formed as the first British gay activist group to promote legal and social equality for lesbians, gay men and bisexuals in England and Wales. In the same year gay right organisation the Scottish Minorities Group was founded by Ian Dunn (it was later known as Outright Scotland).

A Lesbian Community In Wales?

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

Inspired by a visit to the Oregon Women's Lands in the US, a group of British women founded a similar women's community near Lampeter in Wales. Not much in information is out there about it but one assumes it was a collective sisterhood. When I retire, if I've won the lottery I would set up a fun community in the sun for... old queers!

The First Female Same-sex Kiss On British Television

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

Drum Roll - On Sunday, 1 November 1970, at 22.05, BBC2 broadcasted the first female same-sex kiss on British TV! The female same-sex kiss was set in a bar scene between Ivich (Alison Fiske) and Irma (Consuela Chapman) in "Part 5: 17 June 1938 - Afternoon" of David Turner's acclaimed 13 part adaptation of Jean-Paul Sartre's trilogy of novels: The Roads to Freedom, The Roads to Freedom, and, The Age of Reason. Though the kiss seemed to last 13 seconds, it was intercut by 7 seconds of the closeup reactions of 4 the characters in the scene! Can you imagine in British living rooms: one of the Three Flying Ducks falling off the wall in shock, the tutting ... yet for others, their hearts almost burst out with glee! Watch the trailblazing clip and find out more about the BBC's tentative steps toward LGBT+ visibility in early broadcasting. NB Only four months earlier (Thursday, 6 August 1970, 21:10) BBC2's broadcast of Edward II by Christopher Marlowe saw Edward (Ian McKellen) and Gaveston (James Laurenson) kiss, which was the first male same-sex kiss on British television.

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

The Gay Liberation Front (GLF) was established at London School of Economics, in 1970, in response to the way gay men and lesbians were being treated. That year, on the 27th of November, 150 members of the Gay Liberation Front, held a torchlight rally in Highbury Fields to protest against the continual harassment of the gay community in London by the police.

Anti-Permissive Society Rallies

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

The Permissive society in the UK - The GLF (Gay Liberation Front)interrupted The Nationwide Festival of Light with a series of demonstrations which included drag queens disrupting their rally at Westminster Central Hall on September 9th. Bravo to the drag queens for releasing mice into the audience and sounding horns. The GLF protest was funded by Monty Python's Graham Chapman! The short-lived Nationwide Festival of Light was held by British Christians who were concerned about the permissive society in the UK and in particular, homosexuality and out of wedlock sexual fun. It was supported by Cliff Richard, TV campaigner Mary Whitehouse, author Malcolm Muggeridge, Lord Longford and Bishop Trevor Huddleston. On the night of 23 September, 1971, bonfires and torches were lit on hilltops across Britain. On Septem­ber 25, 1971 tens of thousands of Christians met together on London's Trafalgar Square for the largest ever open-air gathering of Christians in British history. Cliff Richard later performed with Dana (winner of the 1970 Eurovision Song Contest with "All Kinds of Everything") at the Hyde Park rally.

Lesbian invasion - demanding recognition, lesbians invaded the platform of the 1971 Women's Liberation Conference in Skegness.

The Nullity of Marriage Act 1971 - was passed and defined valid reasons for annulment according to British law, which included and explicitly banned same-sex marriages between same-sex couples in England and Wales.

"The Important Thing is Love" (1971) - ITV produced a 50 min documentary on lesbians titled "The Important Thing is Love" in which eight brave lesbians discussed their lives, experiences and struggles with everyday homophobia ... and also discussed resources for lesbians such as the magazine Arena Three. At the end of the documentary, ITV provided lesbians with a support phone number for the Albany Trust which helped some lesbians seek advice. To illustrate how brave these interviewees were ... the next day after the documentary was aired, one of the interviewers was promptly sacked from her job and her landlord sent her a letter to vacate her flat. She, however, was a huge hit on the gay scene! Watch "The Important Thing is Love" on BFI player and read more about "The Important Thing is Love".

First British Gay Pride

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

The First British Gay Pride Rally was held in London, 1972, with 1,000 people marching from Trafalgar Square to Hyde Park. In 2019, (before the COVID epidemic) it has been estimated that 30,000 people from more than 600 groups took part in London Pride, which was attended by an estimated 1.5 million people.

  • 17th June 1995: Scotland's first Gay Pride Scotland - over 3,000 bonnie gay and lezza lassies marched from The Blue Moon's Broughton St, along Princes Street, up the Mound, George IV Bridge, and down into the Meadows.
  • June 25th 1983: Ireland's first Gay Pride March - the National LGBT Federation organised the first Gay Pride parade in Ireland. 200 people walked from Stephen's Green to the GPO on O'Connell Street.
  • 1985: Wales' first Gay Pride March - was organised by a small band of brave students from Cardiff University who marched from Queen Street to the Student Union in Cardiff.

Gay publication launches in 1972:

  • Gay News - Britain's first gay fortnightly newspaper was founded in 1972 in a collaboration between former members of the Gay Liberation Front and members of the Campaign for Homosexual Equality. Like some other radical magazines at the time, Gay News faced censorship trials. In 1974, it successfully challenged an obscenity charge, provoked by a cover photograph of a male couple kissing. In July 1977, however, Gay News and its editor, Denis Lemon, were found guilty of blasphemous libel in the first case of its kind for more than 50 years. The case, Whitehouse v. Lemon was brought as a private prosecution by the secretary of the National Viewers and Listeners Association, Mary Whitehouse who objected to the paper's publication of 'The Love that Dares to Speak its Name'; a poem by James Kirkup, which sexualised the body of Christ at the crucifixion. The editor was given a nine month suspended jail sentence and a £500 fine and Gay News was fined £1,000 and made to pay £1,0000 in court costs.
  • Sappho - was founded in 1972 by 12 women, including Angie Chilton, Jackie Forster, Jenny Green, Helen Milton and Roz Stott. It was created to fill the void left when Arena ceased to be published. With sweet noble intentions it encouraged lesbians and bisexual women to form their own local groups and produce their own newsletters, which ironically led to a decrease in their own Sappho's circulation and finally the end of the publication.
  • Spare Rib - the first edition of Spare Rib was published in June 1972. Spare Rib was a feminist magazine published by a collective founded by Rosie Boycott and Marsha Rowe. Among many other issues, Spare Rib included articles written by women about their experiences of domestic violence, education, employment, family and health and later ran personal ads by women for women only.

First Lesbian Leading Characters on British TV

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

BBC 2's Play Of The Week Girl featured the UK's first television lesbian leading characters and a lesbian kiss - 20 years before The Brookside Kiss! Before Girl was transmitted the controller of BBC2 gave a special warning announcement. Trumpet accolade & pull the party poppers!

LGBT+ telephone helpline launches:

  • 3 March 1974: Edinburgh Befrienders (renamed Edinburgh Gay and Lesbian Switchboard). By 1984, the Switchboard had become the first LGBT+ charitable trust in Scotland and with some Women's charities who provided funding, a separate women-only line was added to the switchboard.
  • 4 March 1974: London Lesbian and Gay Switchboard (renamed Switchboard (UK)). In 2020, Switchboard undertook 18,000 conversations through their phone and online service.

The Gay Teachers Association was formed in 1974. It later became Schools OUT UK which is now an education charity whose goal is to make schools and educational institutions safe spaces for LGBT communities as teachers, lecturers and trainers; as pupils and students; as parents; as teaching and learning support staff; as site-officers, catering and cleaning staff; and as headteachers, managers and governors.

Maureen Colquhoun came out as the first openly Lesbian MP. When elected as a Labour MP for Northampton North she was married in a heterosexual marriage. She left her husband for the publisher of Sappho magazine, Babs (Barbara) Todd who became her life long partner. After coming out, her party refused to support her. In September 1977, members of her constituency party's General Management Committee voted by 23 votes to 18, with one abstention, to deselect her citing her "obsession with trivialities such as women's rights". The local party chairman Norman Ashby said: "She was elected as a working wife and mother ... this business has blackened her image irredeemably" to which she replied in an article for Gay News in October 1977, "My sexuality has nothing whatever to do with my ability to do my job as an MP".

Her supporters appealed to the National Executive Committee, who agreed that Colquhoun had been unfairly dismissed owing to her sexual orientation and the vote by her constituency party was overruled in January 1978. Incredulously the Vice-Chair of the General Management Committee said he thought that many members were unwilling to work for her re-election. At the 1979 general election, she lost her seat to the Conservative Antony Marlow on an 8% swing. After losing her parliamentary seat, Maureen was elected as a Hackney councillor for Wenlock in Shoreditch and served from 1982 to 1990.

'Lesbian' Makes It In To The Oxford English Dictionary

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

Apparently, during the four decades it took to create the 12-volume Oxford English Dictionary (OED), completed in 1928, the word "Lesbian" appeared only in reference to the island of Lesbos. Only with OED's 1976's Supplement did the word "Lesbian" appear as an 1890 synonym for Tribadism.

First Gay And Lesbian Trades Union Congress, UK?

The first gay lesbian Trades Union Congress (TUC) conference took place to discuss workplace rights for Gays and Lesbians?

Sacked For Wearing A Lezza Badge, UK

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

Mary Winter, a bus driver, was sacked by Burnley Bus Company in 1978 for wearing and refusing to take of Lesbian Liberation badge! This galvanised her to start a campaign that culminated in a demonstration outside the Bus Station in Burnley and received support from the actress Vanessa Redgrave a well-known supporter of gay rights at a time when few celebrities were. One of the two new plays commissioned for LGBT History month by the Arts Council in 2012 was Abi Hynes’ ‘Lesbian Liberator’ which told the story of Mary Winter. At the end of each performance the audience and the cast went into the streets of Burnley to recreate Mary’s demonstration outside the bus station.

ILGA - during the conference of the Campaign for Homosexual Equality in Coventry, England, which represented 17 organisations from 14 countries, The International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) was founded on 8 August 1978. The Coventry conference also called upon Amnesty International to take up the issue of persecution of lesbians and gays. Now the ILGA is a worldwide federation of more than 1,700 organisations from over 160 countries and territories campaigning for LGBT+ human rights.

GAY song banned on the BBC - Within a week of it's release, Tom Robinson's song "Glad to be Gay" reached 18 in the Top 40. As hero Tom is OUT and Proud, "Glad to be Gay" is banned on Radio 1's Top 40 show, and BBC's TV show Top of the Pops. For six consecutive weeks, it held No. 1 on Capital Radio's, listener-voted, Hitline chart. Watch the gay vid on YouTube.

First Gay Book Shop, UK

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

Gay's The Word is the UK's oldest LGBT bookshop which was established in January 1979 by a group of gay socialists as a community space where all profits were funnelled back into the business. I am such a cowardly muppet! For three years I walked past by it to get to my Uni halls of residence in Cartwright Gardens and was not brave enough to go in to it!

Supporting the community: Throughout the years Gay's the Word has has hosted many readings, signings and talks by well-known and emerging writers, biographers and historians including Stella Duffy, Armistead Maupin... As depicted in the uplifting and wonderful movie "Pride" Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners used to meet at the bookshop and collect money for the striking miners in 1984/85.

Censorship: In 1984, Customs and Excise, assumed the shop to be a porn store rather than a serious bookstore, mounted a large-scale raid and seized thousands of pounds' worth of stock. Works by Tennessee Williams, Gore Vidal, Christopher Isherwood and Jean Genet as well as the Joy of Gay Sex and Joy of Lesbian Sex were among the books seized. Directors were eventually charged with conspiracy to import indecent books under the Customs Consolidation Act 1876. Unlike the situation with the Obscene Publications Act, which governs literature published in the UK, the Customs Consolidation Act 1876 does not provide for a literary or artistic defence of titles. A campaign was set in motion and the charges were vigorously defended. A defence fund was set up and raised over £55,000 from the public. Many well-known writers also gave their support and Gore Vidal donated £3,000. Newspaper articles appeared, various MPs visited the shop and questions were asked in the House of Commons. The charges were eventually dropped in 1986.

Homophobic attacks: Throughout the decades Gay's the Word has been subjected to numerous homophobic attacks with break-ins, ransacking, robbery, windows being broken and nasty graffiti. Incredulously as recently as the 9th February 2020, Gay's the Word was broken into. Two burglars ransacked the bookshop, stole change from a charity collection tin and even more absurd... were arrested inside the store while drinking a bottle of prosecco.

In Scotland the first LGBT book shop, Lavender Menace opened in 1982, in Edinburgh. Surprisingly Wales first queer book shop opened in 2021, Paned o Gê in Cardiff. Surely this can't be right? Ireland still does not have a bricks and mortar LGBT book shop but The Outhouse LGBT Centre, in Dublin houses a LGBT library of almost 4,000 titles, both international and Irish books.

ITV's "World in Action - Gay Pride 1979", broadcasted on 2nd July 1979. 10,000 marched from Charing Cross to Hyde Park. Watch on Youtube.

Gay Life - The First British TV Series Dedicated To Gays!

Timeline of Lesbian History

"Gay Life" was the first British television series dedicated to homosexuality. As it was produced by London Weekend Television it was only aired in London. "Gay Life" ran for two series from 1980 to 1981, on a Sunday night at 11.30pm and notched up eighteen episodes. Though it covered a range of gay issues it was required to be objective and therefore had to represent the views of people hostile to gays for discussion. Watch the episode "Gay Life - Lesbians", on the BFI player, which features gay women from different generations, including a suffragette, discussing their experiences.

AIDS + The First Lesbian Strength March, UK

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) - on June 5, 1981, unusual symptoms of a "new pneumonia" were first reported (not yet named as AIDS) named as a GAY in the "Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report" (MMWR): Pneumocystis Pneumonia" (USA) - heroically, by Dr. Michael Gottlieb, Dr. Wayne Shandera, and their colleagues, who described cases of a rare lung infection in five young, previously healthy gay men in Los Angeles whose immune systems were also weakened / no longer working. By the time the report was published, sadly, two patients had already died while the other three, died soon after.

On the same day - June 5, 1981, Dr. Alvin Friedman-Kien audaciously called the The U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) to report a cluster of cases of a rare and unusually aggressive cancer among gay men in New York and California who also had weakened immune systems. See HIV Gov timeline. Also watch a respectful documentary Killing Patient Zero

  • 12 December 1981 - the first death from AIDS in the UK was sadly documented - a 49-year-old gay man (a frequent visitor to the US) who died in Brompton Hospital due to an Aids-related illness. Respect this patient's name is not in the public domain - these were truly awful times when despicable homophobia was not only outside but, also possibly inside homes. My heart goes out to him and I would give him the warmest hug :(
  • HIV/AIDS - outrageously, was condemned in the media and on the street, as "the Gay Plague". Utterly FALSE, FALSE, FALSE! Straight men and women can contract HIV TOO. AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) is the late stage of HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) infection that occurs when the body's immune system is badly damaged because of the HIV virus. HIV can be transmitted via the exchange of a variety of body fluids from gay or STRAIGHT people living with HIV: such as via blood (including sharing needles, syringes, or other drug injection equipment), breast milk, semen and vaginal secretions. According to the The World Health Organization, PEOPLE CAN'T become infected through ordinary day-to-day contact such as: kissing, hugging, shaking hands (Diana, Princess of Wales - you will always be legendary for shaking hands with AIDS patients and, of course, so much more), or sharing personal objects, food or water. See The World Health Organization
  • AIDS: Don't Die of Ignorance UK public health campaign - In the 1980s, I was v young and still going out with boys (only to 1st base :) as I was still hugely confused and had no one to confide in :(. The AIDS: Don't Die of Ignorance public health campaign, beginning in 1986, scared me witless, particularly the TV public health campaign AIDS: Monolith (1987) which I watched with my parents but couldn't discuss with them nor my school friends. Since I finally came out to myself, GAY boy friends have always been my best friends / wing men. Like a sister, I have always worried for them. Sadly, one of my slick gay boy friends contracted HIV but with developing meds - thankfully he is still living with it, due to advancements in medicine. I'm wary, however, that AID meds have been withheld due to profit considerations?.
  • Lesbian Support - bravo to the unsung lesbians who devoted years of their lives to AIDs support and campaigns which they could have ignored (it was so falsely reported as a GAY BOY epidemic and, the GAY community had been sexist). It is possible, AIDs brought a better allegiance across genders as AIDS was seen as a "community" issue.
  • 1987, ACT UP - ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) is an international organisation founded in the United States by Larry Kramer, Didier Lestrade and Vito Russo, in 1987 to work to end the AIDS pandemic.
  • 1988, 1 December, World AIDS Day - Since 1988, on the 1 December, communities across the world stand together on World AIDS Day to show strength and solidarity against HIV stigma and to remember lives lost (RIP). I wear proud, my red ribbon and support my mega fab, gay boy friends.
  • Stats - As one can accept stats are scarce and questionable (as we have to rely not only on global collaboration but also government's country reporting), as a rough benchmark:
    • HIV epidemic (1981 -2022), since the beginning of the HIV epidemic it has been reported that circa 85.6 million people have been infected with the HIV virus and about circa 40.4 million people have died of HIV. At the end of 2022, globally, circa 39.0 million people were living with HIV - Source: The World Health Organization. HIV still feels an unjustly stigmistised "Gay Plague". Stay safe.
    • Spanish Flu (1918 to 1919); circa 500 million people / one-third of the global population at the time, fell ill with Spanish Flu of which at least 50 million died of Spanish Flu - Source: pfizer.com. FYI Spanish Flu - my respected ancestor, Kurt Baingo who was born in Tarnowitz, Silesia, Prussia who worked as a butcher in Berlin in 1913 and emigrated to USA in 1914 (at the start of WWI) and died in a lonely, isolated small farm in Dawson County, Montana, USA of Spanish Flu aged 29, in 1918, December 13)
    • Covid deaths since 2020 - 2023: 6,985,278 worldwide deaths? Source: The World Health Organization. We were there, enough said :(

The first Lesbian Strength march took place in London on Saturday, 27th June 1981 leaving from Victoria to ? There were about 50 brave marchers including representatives from CHE (Campaign for Homosexual Equality), Sappho (Magazine) and members of Lesbian Line (a phone service for Lesbians). The marches were women-only and usually held the weekend before the Lesbian and Gay Pride march. The last London Lesbian Strength march was in 1988 when they marched to the London Lesbian & Gay Centre in Farringdon.

The Gay Black Group was the first Black Gay and Lesbian Group in the UK which was formed in 1981 and who used to regularly meet in Gay's The Word Bookshop. In 1982 the Gay Black Group requested funding from the GLC (The Greater London Council) to establish a centre which would provide advice and counselling, a helpline, a library and other resources for the Black LGBT community. In 1985 The Black Lesbian and Gay Centre (BLGC) opened in Haringey. When, the GLC was abolished in 1986 funding for the Centre became reliant on donations and membership and eventually the BLGC closed in the 1990s. In 1990 the Black Lesbian and Gay Centre organised the first International Gay and Lesbian People of Colour Conference (IGLPCC) held outside of the US.

First Lesbian Group, UK

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

Founded by the Camden Women's Committee, the first lesbian group in the UK, opened a community centre on London's Phoenix Road. The seeds for the Camden Lesbian Centre (CLC) were sown in 1982 when a group of lesbians began planning together after meeting at the Kentish Town Women’s Workshop., the first lesbian group opened a community centre on 54-56 Phoenix Road, London in On 27 February 1986, at what was by all accounts an extremely raucous public meeting, Camden council granted a change of use order for 54-56 Phoenix Road. On hearing of the opening of a lesbian centre locals shouted threats and organised a petition highlighting ‘the moral danger’ to ‘young girls going to school in the near vicinity’. In 1984 the Camden Black Lesbian Group was formed and it was agreed that the two groups would merge and that 50% of the CLC should be made up of Black lesbians. The Camden Lesbian Centre operated for many years and housed groups including the lesbian disability group GEMMA and Zamimass, a significant Black lesbian organisation that promoted a Black lesbian and gay section on the Pride march. Funding troubles led to its closure in the 1990s.

The first Gay Games: From August 28 – September 5, 1982 the Gay Games (Gay Games I) were held in San Francisco, USA. Conceived by Tom Waddell, an athlete and activist, along with the help of many others, the event's goal was to promote the acceptance and inclusion of gay, lesbian and transgender athletes in the athletic world and celebrate their abilities and achievements. Originally the event was to be called the "Gay Olympics", but a lawsuit filed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) forced the name change. In the first Gay Games (San Francisco) a total of 1,350 competitors from over 170 cities from 10 nations (including the UK) competed in 16 sports which attracted an estimated 10,000 spectators.

For the Gay Games X, Paris (4 August to 12 August, 2018) a total of 10,317 competitors from 91 nations competed in 36 sports which attracted an estimated 75,000 spectators.

The Revenge of the Teenage Perverts (1982) documentary film, was produced by the London Lesbian and Gay Youth Video Project and won the British Film Institute Grierson Award for best documentary 1983. Lesbian and Gay teenagers interview hetty (straight) people on the streets of London about their views on lesbianism and homosexuality. Not meant rude to the filmmakers, but do persevere with the long intro - it is worth watching!

First Lesbian Kiss Shown In Mainstream UK Cinemas?

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

Did Tony Scott's slick 1983 flick The Hunger feature the first lesbian kiss, between lush Catherine Deneuve & Susan Sarandon, on mainstream cinema screens? Regardless that the kiss was between two hetty actresses - it was legendary.

In 1983, Channel 4 launched One in Five, a weekly programme for the gay and lesbian community which was set in London's Heaven nightclub. The magazine-style show explored the problems facing queer people in Britain, and how to challenge them. Some Tory MPs were so outraged they called for Channel 4 to be scrapped!

The First Lesbian Archive, UK

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

The London Lesbian Archive (later renamed the Lesbian Archive and Information Centre (LAIC)) was founded in 1984 to collect material about lesbian lives, activism and achievements in the UK. It was grant funded by the Greater London Council with archive materials being donated. Jackie Forster, broadcaster, lesbian activist and founder of Sappho magazine was an active member of the LAIC Management. After the dissolution of The GLC, funding for the archive became difficult so the Archive relocated to Glasgow Women's Library in 1995.

The Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners campaign was launched in 1984 which sought to support striking workers in the miners' strike of 1984 and 1985. Meeting in the book shop Gays The World they raised more money to the miners cause than any other UK support group, £11,000, along with a minibus emblazoned with the logo LGSM: Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (Dulais Valley, South Wales). Watch the must see movie Pride (2014).

Black Lesbian group established - Two years after the establishment of Camden’s Lesbian group, see above, a separate Black Lesbian group was established "specifically for diverse women who in addition to facing sexual discrimination also had to overcome the difficulties brought on by racial and ethnic difference".

The "Pink Pound" is a term coined by the Guardian in 1984 and refers to the purchasing power of the LGBT community. In 2019 the pink pound was estimated as being worth £6 billion per year. Why Pink... pound? During the horrifying Holocaust the Nazis forced homosexuals to wear a pink triangle symbol (Jews were forced to wear a yellow Star of David ). The pink triangle symbol was repurposed during the rise of AIDS when ACT-UP activists decided to use the pink triangle as a symbol of their campaign which alluded to its history declaring "silence about the oppression and annihilation of gay people, then and now, must be broken as a matter of our survival." Thereafter, pink is one of the colours associated with LGBT community.

The National Bisexual Conference, now known as BiCon, launched in 1984.


Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

LesPop (The Lesbians and Policing Project) was an innovative project developed by the Gay London Police Monitoring Group (GALOP), in 1985, to offer lesbians legal advice in instances of police abuse and gathering evidence of ill-treatment. Based in London LesPop offered phone-line services, workshops and advice focussed on how to deal with police raids, tactics for demonstrations, legal advice, and later, information on Section 28. LesPop also sought to research treatment of Lesbians by the police by working with lesbians in London. Sadly it was debanded in 1990.

Breaking the Silence, aired in 1985, was a ground-breaking Channel 4 documentary directed by Melanie Chait which raised the issues facing lesbian mothers in the UK. Watch an extract of Breaking the Silence on Youtube.

Lesbian Lonely hearts "Academic femme, 25, non-scene, seeks similar" - unlike City Limits, Time Out and later the Guardian, in the 1980s, Spare Rib was one of the first UK and only publications to feature personal ads / lonely hearts ads for lesbians and bisexual women seeking romance or friendships with women run by women for women only. An aside, apparently the first hetty lonely hearts appeared in 1695 in a popular magazine called A Collection For Improvement Of Husbandry and Trade; it was placed by a "Gentleman about 30 Years of Age, that says he had a Very Good Estate" who sought "Good Young Gentle- woman that has a Fortune of 3,000 pounds or thereabouts". Thank goodness for the invention of the world wide web, but to the detriment of old skool clicking in bars and clubs or being introduced to dishy friend of a friend.

  • Lesbian online chatrooms - holy moly I cant remember the gay web site which I tried using in the late 1990s, but I remember it was a primarily a boystown website and being scared Mummy would come into my room, unannounced.
  • Lesbian online dating sites - as publications went online so did their lonely hearts such as the Guardian. Match.com launched in 1995 was the first straight online dating site which enticed by the pink pound like others opened lesbian and gay dating. Then came the likes of pink sofa...
  • Gay online matchmakers - I was shocked by bloomandcadogan.com fees
  • Lesbian Meetups - Meetup was launched in 2002 and personally I think, if one is brave enough to go along, a sweet way of meeting like minded groovers.
  • Lesbian dating apps - and then came blink-of-an-eye swiping :( Her launched in 2013 and was one of first lesbian dating apps run by women for women. I just can't bare registering to be dismissed in a swipe cos of my dippy hair :(

"Promoting" Homosexuality In Schools Banned, UK

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

Section 28 (also known as Clause 28) of the Local Government Act made it illegal for any council or government body to "intentionally promote homosexuality, or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality" or "promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship".

  • In 1988, Section 28 protest against the homophobic legislation, across the UK massive demonstrations took place, with high profile support from media stars and politicians. On 2 February 1988, four lesbians (Olivia Butler, Rachel Cox, Angela Nunn and Charlotte Despard) abseiled into the House of Lords moments after a vote in favour of the legislation. On 23 May 1988, the night before Clause 28 passed into law, as the BBC news began broadcasting at 6pm, four lesbians invaded the studio, calling out: "Stop Section 28." Sue Lawley continued reading the headlines as the disturbance was heard off-screen. Eventually, Lawley acknowledged the protest while, off camera, Nicholas Witchell held the women back, famously sitting one of them
  • 2003: Section 28 repealed - After 15 years of lobbying by voluntary and community organisations, particularly LGBT organisations and a huge amount of peaceful demonstrations, Section 28 was repealed in Scotland in 2000 and in 2003, in England and Wales.

Hackney Women's Football Club formed and became the first "out" Women's football team in Europe.

Fighting Appalling Section 28 - Stonewall

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

Stonewall Equality Limited (Stonewall) was founded in 1989 by Ian McKellen, Michael Cashman and Lisa Power to campaign against Section 28. Stonewall is a LGBT rights charity in the UK and has become the largest LGBT rights organisation in Europe. It was named after the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York City. Stonewall's most high-profile achievements have been in common law and parliamentary lobbying and, did indeed help repeal Section 28.

UK's first national lesbian and gay TV series - Out on Tuesday first screened in 1989 and ran for four years, changing its name to Out part-way through. After consistently high ratings in its 11 o’clock slot, it moved to 9 o’clock for the second series, reaching 700,000 and a million viewers every week. Each series embraced a range of topics, genres and featured some of the then small number of out lesbian and gay celebs, including Ian McKellen, Paul Gambacinni, Audre Lorde, Beatrix Campbell and Paul O'Grady. A huge shout out to C4's commissioning editor Caroline Spry who by 1995 had commissioned and scheduled over 100 hours of lesbian, gay and feminist programmes across ten separate series and one-off broadcasts.

Oranges are Not the Only Fruit

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

The BBC TV drama Oranges are Not the Only Fruit was an adaptation of the 1985 novel of the same name by Jeanette Winterson. The drama follows the life of Jess, a girl growing up in a Pentecostal evangelical household in Accrington, Lancashire in the 1970s, who comes to understand that she is a lesbian. Though the TV series caused controversy due to the lesbian sex scenes, Oranges are Not the Only Fruit won the BAFTA award for Best (TV) Drama. Shoot me, it was a bit too hard going for me.

And some shout outs to other Lesbian TV dramas

  • 2002: Tipping The Velvet - pure bliss.
  • 2010: Lip Service - hmmm... Glasgow's answer to the L Word.

OutRage! - Three gay journalists, Keith Alcorn, Chris Woods and Simon Watney, called a public meeting on 10 May 1990 following the murder of gay actor Michael Boothe, at the London Lesbian and Gay Centre in Farringdon. OutRage! was catalyst for creating sister groups: PIG (Policing Intelligence Group), PUSSY (Perverts Undermining State Scrutiny), ETHNIC (Expanding The Non-Indigenous Contingent), LABIA (Lesbians Answer Back In Anger) and FROCs (Faggots Rooting Out Closet Sexuality). Protests were imaginative and often witty including 'Kiss-In' at Piccadilly Circus in September 1990 and they were into "Outings" in 1994 OutRage! naming ten Church of England bishops asking them to ‘Tell the Truth’ about their sexuality. They then switched to lesbian clergy, and... then outing gay MPs and cabinet members. This action generated much public discussion around LGBT discrimination among hetties and, gays, including me.

Homosexuality No Longer A Mental DISORDER!

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

After 24 years, homosexuality was removed from the World Health Organization's classification of mental disorders in 1992. In the UK many LGBT+ people were subjected to aversion treatments and detrimental counselling as a result of the listing by the DSM-II (the American classification of mental disorders) in 1968.

The First EuroPride was held in 1992, in... Brixton! About 100,000 LGBTQ people attended. Check out Clare Truscott's (a Lambeth Links trustee and Pride committee 1990 member when the EuroPride idea was dreamt up) slick account.

In 1992, Sh! became the first ever "women only" erotic boutique run by women, designed to give ladies of sexual preferences a welcoming, safe place to shop for intimate fun items and get sound sexual advice.

UK's First Lesbian Kiss On A SOAP

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

The first lesbian kiss on a UK soap and broadcast before the 9pm watershed - in Channel 4's Brookside the (19-second :) kiss between Beth Jordache (Anna Friel) and Margaret Clemence (Nicola Stephenson) became iconic and was reportedly watched by 9 million viewers. During the London 2012 Olympic opening ceremony Brookside's lesbian kiss was shown as part of a montage of famous kisses and it is estimated the UK's average viewers for the Olympic opening ceremony was 24.4 m and worldwide an audience of 900 million (including in countries where homosexulaity is still and unbelievably illegal). A salute to Olympic opening ceremony director Danny Boyle.

In 1994, Charity Save the Children fired lesbian Sandi Toksvig as compere of its 75th-anniversary TV celebrations after she came out! A medal to Sandi for her comment "organisers didn't want Princess Anne to meet a lesbian". Charity Save the Children later apologised. A shout out to other brave entertaining lezza TV presenters Sue Perkins, Clare Balding, Susan Calman and BBC newsreader Jane Hill.

The London Lesbian Avengers protested the charity Save the Children after they dumped recently out Sandi Toksvig. Founded in 1992, in New York City, The Lesbian Avengers were "a direct action group focused on issues vital to lesbian survival and visibility." Dozens of chapters emerged worldwide. The London Lesbian Avengers were founded in 1994 by some ex-members of OutRage! and quickly gained a reputation for their high-profile lesbophobia zaps across London. For example in 1994 the London Lesbian Avengers invaded the Queen Victoria monument near Buckingham Palace to demonstrate, contrary to queen Vic's assertion, lesbians do exist! Marking the 7th anniversary of Clause 28, which banned the promotion of homosexuality in schools, in 1995, 50 Lesbian Avengers toured the West End in an open-top double decker bus with a megaphone taped to the side of the bus used to address passers-by "Yes, you in the brown coat, hello, we're lesbians ... we can spot your homophobia ". Several stop-offs were made including a kiss-in held by Rodin's The Kiss, at the Tate.

The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 made provision for a "homosexual act" to constitute a ground for discharging a member of Her Majesty's armed forces from the service.

LGBTQI women's hip magazine Diva was launched in 1994 which brings readers the latest in women's LGBTQI celebrity interviews, news, politics, pop culture, style, travel, social issues, entertainment and more. Initially it was placed on the top shelf of newsagents and, I must confess I was too shy to buy it from newsagents.

LGBT History Month was founded in 1994 by Missouri high-school history teacher Rodney Wilson. Elevem years later the annual UK LGBT+ History Month was initiated by Schools Out UK and first took place in February 2005 to raise awareness of, and combat prejudice against, LGBT people and history.

Amazon Bookstore Goes Online

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

Amazon went online as a bookstore in 1995. For a chicken like me, buying lezza books online was a god send!

Gay Men's Pub Bans Lesbian Groups

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

A Lesbian (help) Line group which offered advice, information and support for lesbians from all over the North West, held their regular social at the Star in Bow Street, Bolton a traditional meeting place for gay men. One night in 1996 they were told by licensee Barry Collins they could no longer meet there as they were putting off his male clients and he was losing business. Moreover, the landlord stipulated that if they went into his pub in groups of more than three, it would constitute a meeting and his staff would refuse to serve them. Come on gay boy pals!

Awful Tabloid Outings

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

Tabloid Outings - Sophie Ward (daughter of Simon Ward) had played a housewife who embarks on a Sapphic "Village Affair". Two years later, life imitated art. Due to sleazy tabloid press stress actress Sophie Ward was forced to come out. She had been living with her two children in a small village but her husband and her had separated and her future wife had moved in. The sleazy tabloid press had caught wind of this thus Sophie Ward was forced to tell her family just days before it became public as the tabloid press door-stepped and besieged the village with photographers and reporters.

In Scotland, The Equality Network was formed in 1997 to ensure that the voices of diverse LGBT people are heard in policy making.

The World's First Lesbian Beauty Contest - organised by Amy Lame, legendary club hostess to Duckie, Miss Lesbian Beauty took place on Monday 30 June 1997, at London's Cafe de Paris. Apparently this was featured in the Guinness Book of Records.

Finally ... Hate Crime Legislation

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

Hate crimes are covered by legislation under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 (and section 66 of the Sentencing Act 2020). The law recognises five types of hate crime on the basis of:

  • Disability
  • Race
  • Religion
  • Sexual orientation
  • Transgender identity

Any crime can be prosecuted as a hate crime if the offender has either:

  • Demonstrated hostility based on race, religion, disability, sexual orientation or transgender identity, or
  • been motivated by hostility based on race, religion, disability, sexual orientation or transgender identity

Examples of lesbian hate crime in the UK

  • 2019 Hate Crime - four teenage boys (two aged 16, one aged 15 and the other aged 17) were charged with aggravated hate crime under the Public Order Act, after a lesbian couple after an evening out in West Hampstead, London were subjected to a horrific homophobic attack involving using threatening, abusive or insulting words being pelted with coins, punched, and had a handbag stolen after refusing to kiss on a bus Melania, who was knocked out in the assault. We can all remember being horrified by the bloody images of the two women, Dr Melania and her partner Chris, sitting on the bus after the attack. The 15-year-old was given an eight-month youth referral order, extended from six due to the homophobic nature of the attack, and made to attend diversity lessons. Since then, Dr Melania has left the UK for Geneva as, "The final decision was taken when the boys approached me on social media and I went to the police only to find out that there are no regulations regarding social media harassment, and therefore they could not do anything. I felt that was it".

Admiral Duncan Nail Bombing, London

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

On Friday, 30 April 1999 at 18:37, a gay & lesbian pub in Soho, the Admiral Duncan, was shockingly nail bombed by former British National Party member / neo Nazi David Copeland. The bomb, contained 1,500 nails which killed three people (four months pregnant with her first child Andrea Dykes, 27, John Light, 32, and 31-year-old Nick Moore) and wounded at least 70. On the Sunday following the attack a large open air meeting was spontaneously organised in Soho Square, attended by thousands which spilled out on to Old Compton Street. In the Admiral Duncan a memorial chandelier hangs from the ceiling with an inscription and a plaque in the bar to commemorate those killed and injured in the blast.

The nail bomb was the third atrocious bomb which David Copeland had unleashed to innocent victims:

  • 17 April 1999: Brixton - Copeland's nail bomb exploded in the centre of Brixton just before 17:30, injuring 48 people.
  • 24 April 1999: Brick Lane - Copeland's second nail bomb went off in Brick Lane at 18:00, injuring 13 people.

In 2000, David Copeland was convicted of three counts of murder and given six life sentences equating to 50 years in prison before he is eligible for parole. Copeland was sentenced to a further three years in prison, in 2015, after attacking a fellow inmate with a shiv which he created out of a razorblade and toothbrush. It has been reported that in jail he has converted to Islam and taken on Iraqi dictator's name... Saddam.

Smith and Grady v UK

A Timeline of Lesbian Rights UK: 21c

Ban On Homosexuals In The Armed Forces Lifted

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

Ban on homosexuals in the armed forces lifted - the Labour government stopped banning homosexuals from the armed forces after the European Court of Human Rights rules it unlawful. The law was not repealed until the Armed Forces Act 2016.

  • 2000 - Gay Police Officers were allowed to march in uniform in "Gay Pride" marches. Traditionally, Police Officers were not permitted to wear uniform on marches or demonstrations, that might be controversial or in any way "political".
  • 2006 - The Royal Navy was the first military organisation in the world to march in a national pride event in in 2006. UK military officials had given the go-ahead for gay and lesbian navy personnel to march in full uniform for the first time in the kingdom's annual gay pride celebrations.
  • 2007 – Gay RAF personnel first marched in London Pride although not in uniform as the RAF had announced that RAF personnel who wore uniform to the Pride parade would face disciplinary action.
  • 2008 - The Ministry of Defence gave the go-ahead to allow the Armed Forces to be allowed to wear their uniforms. Previously there had been a concern with a possible breach of the Queen's Regulations, which bar military personnel from taking part in political activities.
  • 2018 - The Royal Marines marched at London Pride for the first time.

First UK Lesbian reality star - charming lesbian nun Anna Nolan rose to fame on Big Brother. Watched by 5.8M viewers she was voted second by the public.

Lesbians Go Mad on Lesbos - in 2000, Candy Bar's (a London lesbian bar) group trip for around 100 British lesbians to Lesbos was accompanied by a Channel Five film crew who were making a fly-on-the-wall documentary Lesbians Go Mad on Lesbos. Eresos was flooded with flyers advertising a "Wet Pussy Party", prompting the then mayor of the village to try to stop the lesbians from disembarking from their cruise ship. Residents reported lewd and loud behaviour... shouting comments to women that few men would dare say, such as 'Lovely tits' (classy). Thereafter, there were calls from some residents for lesbian tourists to be "fenced off", out of the public eye! Even though I am too ashamed to watch it, I have googled and can't find it on Youtube.

2000 MTV Movie Award for Best Kiss - Sarah Michelle Gellar and Selma Blair won the 2000 MTV Movie Award for Best Kiss for their steamy lip lock in 1999's Cruel Intentions. More than 20 years on, the pair recreated the famous scene in a pre-recorded video broadcast at the MTV Movie and TV Awards: Greatest of All Time, which aired on 6 December 2020.

Faux Girl-on-girl Kisses

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

Faux lesbians to sell pop music - some hearts missed-a-beat to Tatu's, a sexy young Russian "lezza" pop duet comprising Yulia Volkova and Elena Katina, poppy No 1 hit "All the Things She Said" in 2002. It was a marketing scam! Did Yulia Volkova really say on Russian TV "Yes, I would condemn [my son], because I believe that a real man must be a real man"?. “God created man for procreation, it is the nature. The man for me is the support, the strength of… I won’t accept a gay son.”

More music video faux lesbian kisses:

  • The slickest: Outside - George Micheal (1998 - though so hard to spot the lezzas) | All is Full of Love - Bjork (1999)
  • The "Stop it": 2003 MTV Video Music Awards performance - Britney and Madonna | I Kissed A Girl - Katy Perry (2008) | Te Amo - Rihanna (2010)

Faux Lesbian kisses at awards shows and red carpets... really?

  • 1999: Red carpet Cable ACE Awards - Angelina Jolie & Peta Wilson
  • 2004: Best Kiss Award at the 2004 MTV Movie Awards - Carmen Electra & Paris Hilton
  • 2007: MTV Movie Awards - Sarah Silverman and Jessica Biel's almost-kiss
  • 2010: MTV Movie Awards - Sandra Bullock & Scarlett Johannsson
  • 2010: Critic's Choice Movie Awards - Sandra Bullock & Meryl Streep
  • 2010: Britain's Got Talent last night and set the pulses racing when Miley Cyrus shared a same-sex kiss with one of her dancers during the performance.
  • 2015 Red Carpet - Natalie Dormer and Jennifer Lawrence

The Adoption and Children Act 2002 came into force in 2005 which allows unmarried couples (whether the same or different sexes) to adopt.

Section 28 Repealed

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

Section 28, which banned councils and schools from intentionally promoting homosexuality, was repealed in England and Wales and Northern Ireland. In 2009, David Cameron apologised on behalf of the Conservative party for the introduction of Section 28.

Employment Equality Regulations made it illegal to discriminate against lesbians, gays or bisexuals at work.

British university professors Celia Kitzinger and Sue Wilkinson legally married in Canada, in 2003. On their return, under British law, their same-sex marriage was not recognised.

In 2003, you would never guess... former page three model Sam Fox came out! Shoot me... I L.O.V.E her Eurotrash version of Santa Maria mixed by DJ Milano.

Same-sex Civil Partnerships, UK

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

The Civil Partnership Act 2004 came into effect on December 5th 2005. Under the Act, same-sex couples can register a civil partnership, which has almost the same legal effects, rights and obligations as marriage does for mixed-sex couples, however, legally, it is not marriage. In 2018, in the UK The Supreme Court, Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan challenged the ban on mixed-sex couples entering civil partnerships as outlined in the Civil Partnerships Act 2004 as being incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights and, won.

The Gender Recognition Act 2004 gives transsexual people legal recognition as members of the sex appropriate to their gender (male or female) allowing them to acquire a new birth certificate, affording them full recognition of their acquired sex in law for all purposes, including marriage.

Formed in 2004, Broken Rainbow was the only UK-wide LGBT charity to help raise awareness and combat same-sex domestic violence and abuse. When it went into liquidation, in 2016, GALOP (Gay London Police Monitoring Group) took over the Broken Rainbow National Helpline.

First UK Black Pride

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

Black Pride began as a trip to Southend-on-Sea, in 2005, with members of the online social network Black Lesbians in the UK. It was the brainchild of Phyll Opoku Gyimah (aka Lady Phyl). Black Pride has grown to become Europe's largest celebration for LGBTQ people of African, Asian, Caribbean, Latin American, and Middle Eastern descent.

Shannon Sickels and Grainne Close became the first same-sex couple to use the UK's new civil partnership laws to publicly register their commitment at a ceremony at Belfast City Hall.

The annual UK LGBT+ History Month was initiated by Schools Out UK and first took place in February 2005 to raise awareness of, and combat prejudice against, LGBT people and history. It was inspired by the American LGBT+ History Month which was first held in 1994.

"Spinster" - England and Wales stopped using the terms "spinster" and "bachelor" to describe unmarried people on official documents, in 2005, and was replaced by the term "single". The term "spinster" was first used in the mid-1300s to describe a "woman who spins for a living". Spinning was considered as a low-status, low-income job and tended to be undertaken by unmarried women. By the eighteenth century the term "spinster" became synonymous with "old maid" which was a term used to dismiss and deride women who were past an age where it was deemed appropriate for them to be married and sometimes was to used imply a women was a lesbian. Literature is full of handsome "eligible bachelors" but never of a "eligible spinster".

First LGB Award Ceremonies, UK

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

The Stonewall Awards was the first award ceremonies to celebrate the achievements of the lesbian, gay and bi community at an annual event held from 2006 to 2015 by the British LGBT charity Stonewall. The first event was held in 2006 at the Royal Academy of Arts and winners included Baroness Ashton for Politician of the Year, Sarah Waters for Writer of the Year and the charming Lesbian TV drama Sugar Rush for Broadcast of the Year.

Pride Sports was founded in 2006 and was the first organisations in the UK to challenge homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in sport and improve access to sport for LGBT+ people.

Sexual Orientation Discrimination Outlawed

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

The Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007 - made it unlawful to discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation in the provision of goods, facilities and services, education, disposal and management of premises and exercise of public functions.

Lesbian Visibility Day

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

In the UK, Lesbian Visibility Day, the 26 April, has been celebrated since 2008 to toast to and commemorate the achievements of lesbians. It was take-up from the American West Hollywood, Lesbian Visibility Week which has been held since 1990. Bravo to Diva Magazine who extended it in 2021, in the UK, to Lesbian Visibility Week which is for all LGBTQI women.

Lesbian Flags - a brief history: In 2010, designer Natalie McCray created "the lipstick lesbian flag" which featured stripes of shades of pink and a lipstick kiss in the left corner of the flag. As it was seen as femme-only and due to controversial comments made by the flag's designer on her blog, an alternative flag was created by Twitter user, Emily Gwen. The alternative lesbian flag features a seven stripe lesbian flag comprising, from top to bottom: dark orange for "gender non-conformity", orange for "independence", light orange for "community", white for "unique relationships to womanhood", pink for "serenity and peace", dusty pink for "love and sex", and dark rose for "femininity". It has since developed into a five stripe flag called the "Sunset" Lesbian flag. Discover more Pride Flags.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 recognises same-sex couples as legal parents of children conceived through the use of donated sperm, eggs or embryos. It also included provision, Section 42 that where a child is born to a lesbian couple by means of in-vitro fertilisation (IVF), the civil partner of the mother will be presumed to be the parent of the child.

Heinz vs The Gays - In 2017, Heinz Deli Mayo's light-hearted TV ad featured a "Mum" making sandwiches for the kids' lunchboxes but "she" is in fact a male uniformed New York Deli sandwich maker. As the husband is about to leave the two men kiss and "Mum" says: "Love you. Straight home from work sweetcheeks."

The advertising watchdog received over 202 complaints from viewers saying that the ad is "offensive" and that it is "inappropriate to see two men kissing". Though the ad had an ex-kids restriction and could not be aired in or around children's programming, because Heinz Deli Mayo falls foul of Ofcom's restrictions relating to products that are high in fat, salt or sugar some viewers complained that the ad is "unsuitable to be seen" by children and that it raised the difficult problem of having to discuss the issue of same sex relations with younger viewers.

Within days of its launch Heinz dropped the commercial because it was "listening to its consumers". Gay rights campaigners including Stonewall and Gaydar Radio insisted that Heinz had capitulated to a concerted homophobic campaign and urged to boycott Heinz products and sign an online petition calling on Heinz to reinstate the Deli Mayo ad.

First OUT LGBT Poet Laureate

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

Carol Ann Duffy was the first known LGBT poet to hold the position of Poet Laureate - an honorary position which, used to be appointed by the monarch of the United Kingdom but now, is appointed on the advice of the Prime Minister.

Sexual identity reporting by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The Integrated Household Survey (IHS), was an interviewer-based, voluntary household survey conducted annually by the Office for National Statistics from 2009 - 2014. Topics covered by the IHS included sexual identity, perceived general health, smoking prevalence, education, housing and employment with datasets ranging from 449,330 to 338,174 adults. Sorry, I can't find the results of the The 2009 Integrated Household Survey.

Equality Act

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

The Equality Act 2010 makes it unlawful to discriminate against someone on the grounds of: age, disability, sex (gender), gender reassignment, marriage or civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion/belief and sexual orientation. Under the Equality Act 2010, sexual orientation discrimination can be:

  • Direct discrimination– because of their sexual orientation
  • Indirect discrimination – a provision, criterion or practice that places those of a certain sexual orientation at a disadvantage
  • Harassment – subjecting someone to harassment related to their sexual orientation
  • Victimisation – victimising someone because they have or intend to enforce their rights under the Equality Act 2010.

Some examples of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation in the workplace, for lesbians:

  • 2014: Care assistant Ms S won her claim of unfair dismissal and discrimination because of sexual orientation. Ms S, an out lesbian, started work for Gainford Care Homes in September 2010. In May 2011, she helped her managing director move some furniture. One of the business owners then phoned her manager, saying that her MD wanted to know why she had employed “big butch dykes” and that Ms S “needs to go”. Similar requests to dismiss Ms S followed, because, as she was perceived to be butch, she might intimidate residents. Her manager refused all these requests, and made it clear that to dismiss her because of sexual orientation was unlawful. Ms S was eventually dismissed on grounds of alleged threatening behaviour at a social event, “attitude towards management” and episodes of sickness. The tribunal found these reasons were false, that her dismissal was unfair and was direct discrimination because she is a lesbian.
  • 2019: Lesbian employee ‘told to keep sexuality secret’ won her discrimination case - Ashleigh McMahon, who worked as a quality control manager at Lancashire-based textiles firm Redwood TTM, was told not to share her sexuality because she was the only gay employee. The Liverpool Employment Tribunal heard McMahon disclosed her sexuality to the firm’s managing director in her first week of employment. The MD reportedly told her “not to make it common knowledge that she was gay” because “the owner of the business was ‘old school’ and that the company did not have any other gay people working for it”. The Ashleigh worked for Redwood TTM for eight months but in May 2017 she was made redundant in December. Ashleigh told the tribunal she found the demand “odd and uncomfortable” but had complied as she was mindful of the impact it could have on her employment, as she had only just begun work. Her MD denied that Ashleigh had disclosed her sexuality early on in her employment or that he told her to NOT disclose it. The tribunal found in favour of Ashleigh’s versions of events and found she had been “discriminated against on the grounds of her sexual orientation” because she had been “less favourably treated by being asked not to disclose her sexuality by comparison with a hypothetical person not sharing her protected characteristic”.
  • 2021: Miss K Ditchfield v Network Rail Infrastructure Ltd Kirsty - Ditchfield started working at Network Rail in September 2015. She was the only woman in the company’s team of workers in the company’s warehouse at Guide Bridge, Greater Manchester. “Every day people who work there will say to me ’get your tits out’ or ’you have never been a real man, that’s why you are a lesbian.’ She said at the hearing, “Because she is gay, she is treated as a man in terms of sexual suggestion.” In September 2018, Miss Ditchfield was involved in a road traffic accident when the vehicle she was driving ran into a stationary vehicle. She was later fired in January 2019 for failing to report the incident. She then filed a complaint with the Employment Tribunal for direct sex discrimination in the provision of toilets and changing facilities, harassment related to sex and sexual orientation, and sexual harassment related to comments made to her by male colleagues. Upholding her claim, the arbitral tribunal’s judgment found: “Its purpose or effect is in violation of [her] Dignity or create a threatening, hostile, degrading, insulting or offensive environment for her, and is reasonable to her [her] Form this view. “ The team ruled that the harassing comments did “constitute part of the ongoing discrimination against her”.

Examples, for the hetties:

  • 2005: Hegarty v The Edge (Soho) Ltd - Hegarty, a hetty woman, was made redundant from her job in a mainly gay bar on the grounds that the owners wanted to "freshen up" the bar. Therefore, the owners of the Edge (been there so many times) hired male gay bar staff. Hegarty was found to have been discriminated against on the grounds she was heterosexual.
  • 2015: Sarah Mbuyi was dismissed by Newpark Childcare in Shepherd's Bush, London, for gross misconduct - after telling a lesbian colleague her gay lifestyle was a sin. At an employment tribunal Sarah, a Christian nursery worker, denied harassment and maintained that her colleague approached her asking about religion and same-sex marriage and was angry she had been barred from marrying her partner in a church. Sarah claimed the sacking breached European law on religious freedom. The employment tribunal ruled that Sarah was discriminated against because of her belief that homosexual practice is contrary to the Bible.

First Openly Gay Leader Of A Political Party

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

The first openly gay leader of a political party - Ruth Davidson was elected to lead the Scottish Conservatives.

Civil Partnerships in religious buildings - tabled by Lord Waheed Alli, an amendment to the Marriages and Civil Partnerships (Approved Premises) (Amendment) Regulations 2011, which permits the celebration of civil partnerships in religious buildings, in the UK.

The 2011 census excluded a sexual orientation question - In 2009, the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which is a non-departmental public body in Great Britain, requested that the Office for National Statistics include a question on sexual orientation in the forthcoming 2011 census. The Office for National Statistics, however, did not include this question in the 2011 census because it "considers that a compulsory census is not a suitable means of collecting sexual identity information for the first time". Read it's full response to a Freedom of Information request to Office for National Statistics.

In 2021, however, The Office for National Statistics did include a question on sexual orientation - see below.

First OUT Olympic UK Medalist

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

The first OUT Olympic medallist - as an amateur, Nicola Adams OBE became the first female boxer to become an Olympic champion after winning gold at London 2012, and the first double Olympic champion following a second gold medal at Rio 2016, both in the flyweight division.

The Attitude Awards were launched in 2012 to celebrate the LGBT community and benefit the Attitude Magazine Foundation, which raises money for LGBT causes. Clare Balding won Best TV personality.

Explicit reference to homophobic bullying in schools was introduced into Ofsted's inspection framework in the UK.

Posh Tatler's first (and only?) Lesbian Ball - Tatler held a Lesbian Ball (all-women, half of them gay, half straight) in a private members' club in Portland Place where 200 guests attended in the summer of 2012.

"Curing" Gay Clare Balding

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

During Radio 5 Live's Fighting Talk, round of "Defend the Indefensible", presenter Colin Murray asked comedian Bob Mills to comment to "Give me 20 minutes with her and I'm sure I could turn around Clare Balding". (Seriously?) Amongst Mills offensive responses he said "All I am saying is, there is not a woman in the world who cannot be cured". The 5,000 audience at the Liverpool Echo Arena jeered at his comments. After they received complaints from radio listeners, two days later the BBC admitted the broadcast was "inappropriate," and apologised to anyone who was offended by the programme." Incredulously they didn't apologies to Clare Balding.

Gay Travel Advice Guide - in 2013, the UK government published their first "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Foreign Travel Advice Guide".

A lesbian couple were barred from moving into a rented flat on the Isle of Man because of their sexuality. In 2013, they launched an online petition calling for the introduction of the UK Equality Act 2010 Isle of Man. In Metro newspaper, the Isle of Man’s chief minister, Allan Bell said "An Equality Bill, based on the UK Equality Act 2010, is already in the drafting process and will deal with discrimination of this kind. I have asked that preparation of this legislation be accelerated."

Same-sex Marriage Becomes Legal, UK

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

Same-sex marriage became legal in all parts of the United Kingdom. As marriage is a devolved legislative matter, different parts of the UK legalised at different times:

  • March 2014 - England and Wales
  • December 2014 - Scotland
  • January 2020 - Northern Ireland

One of the first same-sex marriages to be held in a UK church - committed Christians Jan Tipper and Barb Burden, took their vows in a ceremony at their Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) in Bournemouth.

First Jewish lesbian marriage in the UK - Jewish childcare worker Nicola Pettit and her non-Jewish partner Tania Ward were among the first lesbian couples to take advantage of their new equality in the eyes of the law as the UK legalised gay marriage.

The Proud Asian LGBTQ & Allies, a support network for the South Asian LGBTQIA+ community, marched in London Pride 2014 for the first time, pre-empting the launch of Gaysians.

Valuing All God's Children - The Archbishop of Canterbury published a report in 2014 from the Education Division of the Church of England called Valuing All God's Children: Guidance for Church of England Schools on Challenging Homophobic Bullying. The guidance, was sent to all Church of England schools, provided 10 key recommendations which should be adopted by church schools to tackle homophobic bullying. It was updated in 2017.

Dr Who - In August 2014, Ofcom, the UK TV regulator, received 6 viewer's complaints concerning an episode of Dr Who which they considered to feature an "inappropriate" scene involving a... lizard-woman, Madame Vastra, and her human wife, Jenny Flint. Seriously? More examples Ofcom complaints:

  • 2017 - Good Morning Britain "gay cure" segment broke Ofcom's complaints record. On September 5, 2017, the ITV morning show Good Morning Britain aired a discussion between host Piers Morgan, Liverpool Echo journalist Josh Parry and gay cure ‘therapist’ Dr Michael Davidson. Dr Davidson explained that he had a thriving business attempting to 'cure' desperate gay people, saying: "in the last year I'm seeing up to 14 a week, many of them are in therapy for up to two years." Ofcom, the UK's broadcast regulator, received 1,121 complaints concerning the, which broke the records for the most complaints in 2017.
  • 2019 - Ofcom received 950 complaints concerning Good Morning Britain's Piers Morgan on-air rant and controversial remarks on gender identity. This was 'one of the highest number of complaints of any TV show in the country in 2019.' During a live debate on Good Morning Britain in relation to a BBC film that claimed there are more than 100 genders and an article about a London Aquarium penguin being cared for by a lesbian penguin couple and being raised as gender neutral Piers Morgan told GMB viewers that he identified himself as a "two-spirit penguin".
  • 2020 - Ofcom received over 100 complaints after a same-sex kiss between two teenage girls was aired on CBBC show The Next Step.

The No Outsiders programme was created in 2014 by Andrew Moffat, previously the assistant head teacher at primary school, Parkfield Community School in Birmingham. The aim of the No Outsiders programme is to teach primary school pupils about protected characteristics as defined by the 2010 Equality Act such as sexual orientation and religion, and supports schools' efforts to be inclusive and cohesive. Andrew wanted pupils to "be proud of who they are while recognising and celebrating difference and diversity". The No Outsiders programme was piloted, in 2014, at Parkfield Community School and was soon adopted by schools across the country.

Books used in the programme include stories about a dog that doesn't feel like it fits in (Odd Dog Out by Rob Biddulph (2016)), a boy who likes to dress up like a mermaid (Julian is a Mermaid by Jessica Love (2018)) and two male penguins that raise a chick together (And Tango Make Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell Henry Cole (2007)).

In January, 2019, a parent whose child attended Parkfield school raised a petition, claiming the teaching contradicted the Islamic faith. "Children at this age don't even know if they are coming or going, let alone knowing what sexual orientation they will become." Though meetings took place between Mr Moffat and concerned parents, within days, some parents began protesting outside the school at home time and several pupils were also kept at home. Mr Moffat, who is gay, told the BBC he had been accused of promoting "personal beliefs", had received "nasty emails" and threats, including one which warned he "wouldn't last long". Protests spread to other schools in Birmingham while Bradford, Bristol, Croydon, Ealing, Manchester, Northampton and Nottingham schools received letters of complaint from conservative Muslims. In Kent, schools received letters from Christian parents.

Ofsted backed the No Outsiders programme said it was crucial children were exposed to differences in society, and important children to learn about same-sex couples regardless of their religious background. Moreover, an Ofsted report also found there was no evidence the curriculum at Parkfield overly focused on LGBT issues or was not taught in an age-appropriate manner. The Education Secretary Damian Hinds, however, said primary schools should be able to choose what they teach about same-sex relationships, if they "consider it age appropriate".

After the protests took place, Parkfield held a consultation with parents which resulted in a “tweaked version” of No Outsiders being introduced – ‘No Outsiders for a Faith Community’. Mr Moffat said the LGBT content has been retained, and the lessons have not been watered down.

First Office for National Statistics Sexual Identity UK Report

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

First Sexual Identity UK report - The Office for National Statistics is the UK's largest independent producer of official statistics and is recognised as the national statistical institute of the UK. Since 2015 they have been producing "experimental" statistics on sexual orientation in the UK by region, sex, age, marital status, ethnicity and socio-economic classification, using data from the Annual Population Survey (APS). In mid 2019 they reported the UK population as 66,796,807. Key findings released on 27 May 2021, in the Sexual orientation, UK: 2019 report:

  • An estimated 1.4 million people aged 16 years and over (2.7% of the UK population) identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB) in 2019, an increase from 1.2 million (2.2%) in 2018. The LGB population comprised 1.6% identifying as gay or lesbian and 1.1% as bisexual
  • In 2019, the proportion of men identifying as gay or bisexual (GB) increased from 2.5% to 2.9% (754,000) and women identifying as LGB rose from 2.0% to 2.5% (677,000) (see Figure 2). Men (2.1%) were almost twice as likely than women (1.1%) to identify as gay. Conversely, women (1.4%) were more likely than men (0.8%) to identify as bisexual.

The UK Parliament's All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPGs) on Global LGBT+ Rights was founded in June 2015 by an informal cross-party group of Members of Parliament and Members of the House of Lords that have no official status within Parliament. The APPGs provides a forum for "parliamentarians and organisations across the public, private and third sectors to work together to champion LGBT+ rights and push back against abuse and discrimination."

For the first time a trans man plays a trans character on British TV soap - Riley Carter Millington joined the cast of Eastenders in 2015, becoming the first trans man to play a trans character in a U.K. soap.

A woman convicted for impersonating man to dupe a woman into having sex - Gayle Newland adopted a male persona called Kye Fortune to trick a fellow student at the University of Chester into having sex with her while wearing a blindfold. Kye told the complainant he was insecure about his body, having lost muscle tone following treatment for a brain tumour and a car accident. Because of these body consciousness issues, he asked her to wear a blindfold every time they hung out, even when they watched films together or cruised in “his” car. During their two-and-a-half year relationship the pair had sex about 10 times, until on one occasion the complainant took off the blindfold and saw Newland was wearing a prosthetic penis, her breasts restrained by bandages and, her long hair covered by a hat. Gayle Newland was sentenced to six and a half years in prison following a retrial.

Lesbian Child Abuse - It Shouldn't, But, It Happens :(

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

Rachel Fee and Nyomi Fee - in May 2016, civil partners Rachel Fee and Nyomi Fee were convicted of child abuse and murdering their two-year-old son Liam by inflicting severe blunt force trauma to his body at a house in Fife, Scotland. They were also convicted of cruelty against two boys in their care, one of whom they tried to blame for Liam's death. Both women were handed life sentences: Rachel Fee was ordered to serve a minimum of 23-and-a-half years behind bars while "domineering" Nyomi Fee was sentenced to spend at least 24 years in prison.

  • 2020: Frankie Smith and Savannah Brockhill - after months of "neglect, cruelty and injury" by her mother, Frankie Smith, and Smith's lesbian partner, Savannah Brockhill, Star Hobson, a 16-month-old toddler was cruelly murdered on September 22, 2020. Frankie Smith was sentenced to a shockingly short sentence of 8 years for causing or allowing her death while her lesbian partner, Savannah Brockhill was jailed for a minimum of 25 years for murder. In 2022 the Court of Appeal is to review Frankie Smith too short sentence.

Homosexual Acts As Grounds For Discharge From The Armed Forces Repealed

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

Armed Forces Act 2016 - section 146 (4) of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 was repealed, which allowed homosexual acts to be a reason for discharging servicemen and women from the armed forces — this remained on the statute books despite the abandonment of the policy preventing homosexuals from serving in the armed forces in 2000.

Girlguiding North West England marched at Manchester's Pride festival in 2016.

First Lesbian MET Commissioner - Wasted ...

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

The first female and first openly homosexual officer to lead the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS or the Met) in London - Dame Cressida Rose Dick DBE QPM became both the first female and first lesbian Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service in London. In 2022, Commissioner Dick resigned after The Mayor of London (understandably) thought her position was no longer tenable due to various SHAMEFUL MET scandals. Get real - Dame Cressida Rose Dick, you had a chance to make a proper difference and make your mark in history! And what did you do? Not only waste it but your legacy is in tatters.

Lesbian domestic abuse - On October 13, 2017, Becky Reid who murdered her lesbian lover, Lyndsey Vaux was handed down a sentence of life with a minimum of 20 years at Manchester Crown Court. Lyndsey, who had a 12-year-old daughter, was regularly punched, kicked and stamped-on during five years and died with 90 separate injuries after years of being assaulted, abused and starved.

First Lesbian couple to go on Say Yes to the Dress UK - on 9th of June 2017 YouTube couple and bride to be Whitney Bacon and Megan Evans featured as the first lesbian couple to feature on Say Yes to the Dress UK with David Emanuel as host.

Match.com's 2017 TV ad showing a woman removing her female's partner's top and passionately kissing her, generated 293 Ofcom complaints which was the second highest number of complaints in the first half year of 2017.

Pensions Rights - the UK Supreme Court ruled that the discrimination against same-sex couples on pensions rights needs to end immediately.

Whacko Wokeism? Anne Lister Plaque Gender Petition

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

Anne Lister Plaque - in 2019, a blue plaque honouring Anne Lister was proudly unveiled at Holy Trinity Church in York, where Anne took the sacrament in 1834 with her lover, Ann Walker. The plaque originally described Anne Lister as "gender non-conforming", prompting an online petition which attracted more than 2,500 signatures to change the wording to "lesbian". York Civic Trust agreed and apologised, unveiling a new re-worded. Which wording would you have preferred? I know my clear preference but abstain to disclose here, in case I am cancelled!

Proposals to ban conversion therapy - In 2018, the UK Government announced that it would bring forward proposals to ban conversion therapy at a legislative level. Two years and still waiting, religious leaders from every major faith came together in a show of unity to urge the UK government to legislate a ban on conversion therapy. It's 2022 and conversion therapy has still not been banned in the UK.

Lesbian anti-trans protesters, Pride 2018 forced their way to the front of the 2018 Pride Parade - members of lesbian and feminist group Get The L Out who argue that the trans movement is attacking lesbian rights "We protested to protect our rights and on behalf of all the lesbians intimidated, threatened and silenced by the GBT community everywhere" marched in front of the rainbow flag. At first not reading their banner, oops, my friends and I cheered with delight when we thought they represented the start of the Pride. We were utterly mortified and ashamed when we read their banner.

World's First Ever "Two-Womb" Baby Born

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

The world's first ever "two-womb" baby born was born - A British lesbian couple became the first in the world to carry the same baby in both their wombs as part of a landmark "shared motherhood" procedure. The "shared motherhood" procedure involved the eggs of the biological mother being placed inside a miniature capsule and inserted into her womb, where they were incubated. After the incubation of the eggs, they were taken out of the first mother's womb and placed into the womb of the gestational mother, who carried the baby to term.

Children and Social Work Bill amendments, made Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) mandatory in all schools in England and Wales from 2019. A new Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) curriculum was introduced in England, requiring that school lessons include acknowledgment of LGBT rights and protect the physical and mental wellbeing of LGBT children.

Renault Clio TV ad - a Renault Clio ad featured a heart-warming story of lifelong lesbian love. L.O.V.E.D it! On twitter there was delight though one twitter twit, tweeted "Just seen your advert, personally don't want to see two women kissing. Especially when the this was shown during 'junior bake off' at 5.45 in the afternoon". Get real!

YouGov for Channel 4 study - In 2019, over a two-month period, a study undertaken by YouGov for Channel 4's sales arm (4Sales) analysed 1,000 television adverts alongside a survey of 2,000 people and LGBT+ specific focus groups.

  • Only 3% of the surveyed adverts featured members of the LGBT community, which makes up around 6% of the UK population.
  • Focus groups overestimated LGBT representation in ads at around 22%.
  • Around 60% of those surveyed in focus groups felt that the portrayal of LGBT people in adverts was negative: relying on images of a stereotyped butch lesbian or camp gay man (that surprised me), the characters were tokenistic and they were rarely shown as part of a family unit.
  • There were also concerns that adverts centred on same-sex couples rather than bisexual, gender fluid and transgender people.
  • Consequently, Channel 4 has called for better representation of the LGBT community in TV advertising and announced it will dedicate its £1 million Diversity in Advertising Award to addressing LGBT representation.

The TUC's Sexual Harassment of LGBT People In The Workplace Report found that around 7 out of 10 LGBT workers experienced at least one type of sexual harassment at work (68%) and almost 1 in 8 LGBT women (12%) reported being seriously sexually assaulted or raped at work. The report also revealed that sexual harassment of LGBT people in the workplace is a hidden problem with two thirds of those who were harassed not reporting it; and 1 in 4 of those who did not report the harassment being silenced by fear of "outing" themselves at work.

Gross misconduct - Primary school teacher, Iqbal Khanem, was sacked for gross misconduct by New Christ Church Primary School in Reading, Berkshire in May 2019. The gross misconduct included referring to co-workers as "bloody lesbians" and "fat s***s" (I'm still trying to work out what that means) and failing to respond to the needs of children attending the school, for example leaving a pupil in their "soiled clothes for at least 45 minutes" after they had an accident in class. At an employment tribunal she argued that she was unfairly dismissed as a result of age discrimination. The employment tribunal, however, dismissed the teacher's claims.

The first Bi Pride UK event was held at the Round Chapel in Hackney, London.

The Girlguiding orginisation published their Equality And Diversity Policy, in 2019 which included declaring that "No member within Girlguiding should be treated differently, or offered different opportunities, based on their sexual orientation"

Strictly Come Dancing Same-sex (female) Dance Pairing

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

Strictly Come Dancing same-sex dance pairing - on October 17 2020, sixteen years after its first show, Strictly Come Dancing featured its first same-sex dance pairing as the former Olympic boxer Nicola Adams took to the ballroom floor with professional dancer Katya Jones.

  • 2017 - Susan Calman, an out lesbian comedian and campaigner for LGBT rights, was paired with Strictly Come Dancing Kevin Clifton but was branded a traitor to the gay cause. Not Susan Calman's fault - the BBC were not yet ready for a first same-sex dance pairing. As illustrated by, Ann Widdecombe, former Tory MP and a previous contestant on the show, who commented in 2017 that the BBC would be "wise" to stick to its no same-sex couples policy. Ann Widdecombe asserted that "this is a family show with generations watching together, and most families will not switch on if they think the programme has become unsuitable for the youngest viewers".
  • BTW, ITV rival Dancing on Ice beat Strictly Come Dancing to the dance floor by featuring a same-sex couple, Ian ‘H’ Watkins (from Steps) and Matt Evers, in 2019.

Comedian Rosie Jones won the 2020 Virgin Atlantic Attitude Comdey Award, sponsored by Jaguar. Rosie, who has Ataxic cerebral palsy, which affects speech and mobility is a talented and well-loved voice of gay disability.

The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) 2nd LGBTI Survey was published in 2020. The survey, the largest of its kind ever conducted across Europe, focused on the social experiences of 140,000 lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) people in 30 European countries. Compared with a similar FRA survey from 2012 (which did not include intersex people and 15- to 17-year-olds):

  • The number of LGBTI people in the UK who say they have been harassed in the 12 months has risen from 55% to 62% – six points higher than the European average.
  • The number of people in the UK who say they have been violently attacked at least once has gone up by nine points, and is seven above the European average.
  • 62% of UK respondents say they often or always avoid holding hands with their same-sex partners in public for fear of assault, threat or harassment.
  • In the UK, discrimination in the workplace in particular remains significantly high.
  • Respondents in the UK showed some of the highest levels of openness about being LGBTQ across the continent: 56% say they are now fairly or very open, nine points above the EU28 average.

LGB People Included in the UK Censuses

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

For over two centuries in the UK, LGBTQ+ people have not been recorded in UK Censuses. Since 1801, a census has taken place every 10 years in England and Wales, and separately for Scotland and Northern Ireland. Initially the census was a head count of households in the country on a given day but with additional questions, it now provides a snapshot of household occupants in the UK.

In England and Wales the last Census Day was conducted on 21 March 2021, while Covid-19 restrictions were in place. Due to the pandemic Scotland postponed their Census Day until the 20 March 2022.

For the first time, in the England and Wales 2021 census, two new questions were included with the aim of collecting data on LGBT+ people regarding their sexual orientation and their gender identity. Although Northern Ireland and Scotland censuses, asked respondents about their sexual orientation:

  • Northern Ireland - did not include a question regarding gender identity
  • Scotland - asked the gender identity question differently: "Do you consider yourself to be trans, or have a trans history?" compared to English & Wales "Is the gender you identify with the same as your sex registered at birth?". The Scottish census clarified that "Trans is a term used to describe people whose gender is not the same as the sex they were registered at birth".

Some results for England and Wales

According to the 2021 census the population of England and Wales was 59.6 million. Of those

  • 3.2% (around 1.5 million) of respondents identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or another sexual orientation (LGB+).
  • 1.5% (around 748,000) of respondents identified as gay or lesbian while 1.3% (628,000) identified as bisexual.
  • 0.3% (165,000) of respondents identified with a different sexual orientation. The most common ‘other’ orientations given in the write-in box were: pansexual (112,000 people), asexual (28,000 people), and queer (15,000 people).
  • 0.5% (around 262,000) of respondents said their gender identity and sex registered at birth were different.
  • The ONS produced an interactive map of England and Wales which shows that LGB people live in every part of the country - urban and rural.
  • Source: House of Commons Library
Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

The LGBT+ population in the UK is larger than the census data shows, because for example:

  • Both questions were voluntary unlike most census questions, which are compulsory to answer. Some respondents may have not wished to share their sexual orientation on the census. I totally understand - it took me years to have this recorded on my medical records!
  • LGBT+ people aged under 16 aren't counted in the census.
  • The census forms were sent to households rather than individuals. Some people may have had inaccurate sexual orientation or gender identity information recorded for them by the respondent for the household if, they weren't out to the people they live with. Everyone, however, did have the option to submit a separate, individual census form that would supersede the information recorded about them on their household form. Not all respondents will have chosen to do this.

Sacked LGBT Veterans Can Reclaim Their Stripped Medals

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

Sacked LGBT veterans can reclaim lost medals - under a new scheme to remedy historical injustices, former service personnel who were dismissed from the armed forces because of their sexuality can apply to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to restore honours and reclaim their medals which were stripped from them. It follows Falklands veteran Joe Ousalice's successful battle to return awards he lost after being forced out of the Royal Navy for being bisexual. Joe Ousalice served as a radio operator for nearly 18 years but was discharged in 1993 when there was a ban on LGBT people serving in the armed forces.

For the first time, the UK census included questions on gender identity and sexual orientation.

Hate Crime - Reports of sexual orientation hate crimes recorded by the UK police force, from January to August, showed a disturbing rise:

  • 14,670 homophobic hate crime offences were recorded in 2021, compared with 11,841 in the same period of 2020 and 10,817 in 2019.
  • 2,129 transphobic offences were recorded in 2021, well above the 1,606 offences in 2020 and 1,602 in 2019.

In 2021, Bishop of Monmouth Cherry Vann became the first lesbian bishop in the Church in Wales, and who is in a civil partnership.

A female same-sex married couple is taking legal action over NHS IVF funding policies which they claim discriminate against LGBT+ families - Influencers Megan and Whitney Bacon-Evans from Windsor in Berkshire, have accused their local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) of financially penalising them for their sexual orientation and gender. Frimley CCG in Surrey requires female same-sex couples and single people with wombs to self-fund 12 insemination attempts including six intrauterine inseminations, costing an estimated £30,000 or more, which must take place in a clinic to prove they are medically infertile before becoming eligible for IVF through the NHS. In contrast, cis-heterosexual couples can claim NHS-funded fertility treatments after two years of failing to conceive naturally. Backed by Stonewall UK and the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), the couple have applied for a judicial review alleging discrimination under the Equality Act 2010 and articles 8 and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights. If granted, their case could be heard in the High Court in 2022 and could set a precedent for LGBT+ families seeking access to fertility treatment.

Actress sacked over anti-gay post loses legal fight - in 2014, Christian actress Seyi Omooba had been due to play the lead character Celie, sometimes depicted as being in a lesbian relationship, in a run of The Color Purple at Leicester's Curve Theatre. A few days after she was announced as being part of the cast, an actor, unconnected to the play, shared on social media a post she had written in Facebook in 2014: "I do not believe you can be born gay, and I do not believe homosexuality is right, though the law of this land has made it legal doesn't mean its right." On hearing this the theatrical company dismissed her and her contract with her talent agency was also terminated. The theatrical company "unconditionally" offered her full salary for the role.

Seyi declined to invoice the theatrical company and instead at a Central London Employment Tribunal she sought a total of £128,000 compensation from the theatre for injury to feelings and reputational damage and from her former agency for loss of earnings, future losses, injury to feelings and reputational damage. Her claims of discrimination against her religious beliefs, harassment and breach of contract were rejected by the tribunal panel.

UK's First LGBTQ+ Museum

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

The UK's first LGBTQ+ museum in Granary Square, London, will open it's doors to the public free of charge in spring 2022. Founded by Queer Britain (established in 2018), the museum is "dedicated to exploring LGBTQ+ histories, people and ideas".

Conversation Therapy - for gawd's sake... we are still waiting for the banning of conversation therapy in the UK and for ALL, regardless of sexual orientation, gender... having a moral and good UK government which protects ALL.

Proposed Privatisation of UK TV Channels - Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries, WHAT ARE YOU THINKING to WANT the privatisation of Channel 4 and the BBC? Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries why? Is it because these independant channels have questioned Boris Johnson's PM Rule and you are enamored by him, and have sided with them even though circa 50 consertatives have resigned? Having lived abroad, I can not commend enough UK independant channels, for their programming


The World

2022 - Countries that Criminalise LGBT People - humandignitytrust.org, maintains an interactive map of the countries that criminalise LGBT people. July 2022:

2022 map of countries that criminalise LGBT people

Out of 195 countries in the world:

  • 70 countries - have jurisdictions that criminalise private, consensual, same-sex sexual activity (the majority of these jurisdictions explicitly criminalise sex between men via 'sodomy', 'buggery' and 'unnatural offences' laws). That is to say, 36% of world countries still criminalise same-sex sexual activity.
  • 42 countries - criminalise private, consensual sexual activity between women using laws against 'lesbianism', 'sexual relations with a person of the same sex' and 'gross indecency'.
  • 15 countries - countries criminalise the gender identity and/or expression of transgender people, using so-called 'cross-dressing', 'impersonation' and 'disguise' laws.
  • 11 countries - have jurisdictions in which the death penalty is imposed or at least a possibility for private, consensual same-sex sexual activity.

In 2019, The European Parliament voted in March to declare the whole EU an "LGBTIQ Freedom Zone". In July, the commission also announced legal action against Poland and Hungary for alleged violations of LGBT rights. Surpisingly, the important humandignitytrust.org map omits, persecution LGBT#: e.g.

  • Russia - 2013 a "Gay Propaganda" law (Federal Law No. 135-FZ of June 29, 2013), was passed which prohibited "propaganda of homosexuality and pedophilia among minors" / bans the distribution of information about LGBT people's lives to "minors" (people under age 18). Other laws passed, include Federal Law No. 167-FZ of July 2, 2013, and governmental decree No. 93 of February 10, 2014, that contain discriminatory provisions against LGBT people. The Center for European Policy Analysis states that since February 2017, a covert, officially sanctioned campaign against the LGBT community has been underway in Russia. Those suspected of homosexuality have been beaten, held in secret prisons, or even murdered. I was extremely uneasy watching the 2014 Winter Olympics, hosted in Russia.
  • Chechnya - is part of the Russian Federation and has had an influence of Islamist- Russia officially passed an anti-gay propaganda law in June 2013. It officially bans the distribution of "propaganda for nontraditional sexual relationships", among children.
  • Poland - in 2019, almost 100 regions in Poland had passed anti-LGBT resolutions, drawing ire from the EU, which said it violated discrimination laws. Same-sex relationships are not legally recognised in Poland, and the country still keeps the ban on same-sex couples from adopting children.
  • Hungary - a 2021 law passed (with 459 in favour, 147 against and 58 abstentions) prohibits sharing content on homosexuality or sex reassignment to people under 18 in school sex education programmes, films or advertisements. Moreover, same-sex marriage is constitutionally forbidden in Hungary, but civil partnerships are recognised.
  • Romania - 2021, was considering a bill that would ban minors from being exposed to so-called "gay propaganda" in schools and in public life. The parliamentarians supporting the bill said that Romania was under threat from gender theories that have "taken Western Europe by storm" and are "endangering Christian values and the traditional Christian family."
  • China -
  • I - can clearly see LGBT# discrimination / internet censorship. Though I am a v slick SEO :) and with my pages, I wish to instill a "you are not alone" to the slick tunes of slow-beat Christina Aguilera "Beautiful" and... up-beat George Michael "Freedom". In google analytics, I so can clearly see I recieve no web visits from Africa, Russia, China... yet for "Work" sites, I see "WORLD" traffic. For sure, my web pages have been banned because of the content of slick bios on historical lesbians!

2022 - Countries where same sex marriage is legal:

2022 map of countries that criminalise LGBT people

Out of 195 countries in the world, there are currently 32 countries (16%) where same-sex marriage is legal: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Denmark, Ecuador, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Uruguay.

In bocca al lupo - to the countries that have laws that STILL criminalise homosexuality and countries which STILL censor queer web content. Heart-felt, I hope this ends ASAP.

PS - This is site is ongoing, please forgive me if I make mistakes / missed updates - please do email to make amends.

Gay Men's Rights in the UK

Lesbian Rights Timeline UK

As, I have lovely gay pals I can't exclude a heart-felt brief mega brief acknowledgement as to what some poor "buggers" (sorry it's v old skool term, but my army daddy said in a non-derogative term) faced.

  • 597: Christianity did not formally arrive in Britain until 597, when Augustine of Canterbury arrived in Britain to convert the Germanic Anglo Saxons (Jutes, Angles, Frisians and Saxons) to Christianity. With this apparently, the prohibition of homosexuality commenced. I still can't find a quote where the bible says homosexuality is illegal.
  • 1533: Buggery Act - This Act of Parliament, passed during the reign of King Henry VIII, moved the issue of sodomy from the ecclesiastical courts to the state. The Act was renewed three times in 1536, 1539 and 1548. Over the next 20 years various monarchs would change the impact of the legislation, but all kept it in place. The Act did not explicitly target homosexual acts between men as it also applied to sodomy between men and women and a person with an animal. However, it was male homosexual convictions that were by far the most common and publicised. Convictions under the Buggery Act were punishable by death.
  • 1828: Buggery Act repealed - The Buggery Act was repealed and replaced by the Offences Against the Person Act 1828. The new language of the law focused on male same-sex activity explicitly, where the Buggery Act had applied to men and women collectively. Homosexual acts between men remained punishable by death. This Act would be replaced by the Offences Against the Person Act 1861.
  • 1828: Offences Against the Person Act 1828 - the death penalty for homosexual acts between men.
  • 1835: Last two men executed for homosexual acts in the UK - were James Pratt and John Smith on 27 November 1835.
  • 1861: Offences Against the Person Act 1861 - This legislation replaced the Offences Against the Person Act 1828, revoking the death penalty for homosexual acts between men and replacing it with a prison term of hard labour between 10 years and life.
  • 1967: Sexual Offences Act 1967 - The Sexual Offences Act decriminalised homosexual acts between two men, both over the age of 21, in private. The age of consent was set at 21 (compared to 16 for heterosexuals and lesbians). Homosexual acts taking place in the presence of more than two people however, were deemed not 'in private' to prevent premises being used for communal activities. The Act only applied to England and Wales.
  • 2000: The Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 2000 made the ages of legal consent for heterosexuals AND homosexuals equal and the legal age of consent for homosexual people was changed to 16.

Online LGBTQ+ Support

Some LGBTQ+ Support Links

Hugest sorry - I have tried but couldn't find global LGBTQ+ Support Links. Please do search yourself - for sure there is some help out there for you.

The Human Dignity Trust:
* Map of Countries that Criminalise LGBT People
* A World History of LGBT Criminalisation

Coming Out:
* My Coming Out FAQs

Diversity Support:
lgbt.foundation | 0345 330 3030
switchboard.org.uk and switchboard.lgbt | 0300 330 0630
stonewall.org.uk | 0800 0502020

LGBTQ+ people (and Families and Friends) under 25 Support:
Being Gay is OK - bgiok.org.uk
Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays - fflag.org.uk

LGBT Health and Wellbeing Support
tht.org.uk | 0808 802 1221
lgbt.ie (Ireland) | 1800 929 539
lgbthealth.org.uk (Scotland) | 0300 123 2523
lgbtcymru.org.uk (Wales) | 0800 917 9996
maytree.org.uk | 020 7263 7070

Suicide Prevention
papyrus-uk.org/hopelineuk | 0800 068 4141
samaritans.org | 116 123 giveusashout.org | 85258

Conversion Therapy
The National Conversion Therapy Helpline (run by Galop) | 0800 130 3335
papyrus-uk.org/hopelineuk | 0800 068 4141
Homeless LGBTQ+ Support:
stonewallhousing.org | 020 7359 5767

LGBT Hate Crime Support:
galop.org.uk - LGBT+ anti-abuse charity | 0800 999 5428

Support for victims of:
FGM - gov.uk/female-genital-mutilation-help-advice
Forced marriage - gov.uk/guidance/forced-marriage
Honour Based Abuse in the UK - karmanirvana.org.uk
Modern slavery - gov.uk/government/publications/support-for-victims-of-human-trafficking

Asylum Support

Legal Aid:

Lesbian Parenting / Adoption

IVF Support

Working Mothers
General - nct.org.uk
Flexible working hours - gov.uk/flexible-working
Maternity pay and leave - gov.uk/maternity-pay-leave
Free childcare - gov.uk/30-hours-free-childcare

Womans health support:

NHS Women's Screenings:
NHS Cervical screening - between the ages 25 to 49: every 3 years; 50 to 64 every 5 years

NHS Fibroid screening - unless you feel pain or having a baby - none! Do it yourself! By chance while getting a private Ultrasound for abdomen pain as it was taking too long on the NHS I decided to also have a pelvis scan! Holy Moly - a fibroid the size of a grapefruit was discovered - I am soooooo slim, my friends couldn't believe it! On removal it turned out to be the size of a.. honeydew melon!

NHS Breast screening - between the ages of 50 and 71 every 3 years until you turn 71.


Discover how Sapphic Trailblazers have helped Women's Rights in the UK and across the globe.

And test your knowledge with the Queer Quiz and UK Women's Rights Quiz