LGBT+ History: Ireland’s referendum


In May 2015 voters in the Republic of Ireland were given a referendum to ask if same sex marriage should be legalised.  The results of this vote were eagerly watched by the Assembly members in Northern Ireland as it still refused to either conduct or recognise same sex marriage.

Prior to this referendum Sinn Fein had tried to push a gay marriage bill through Stormont but each time it was blocked by the Democratic Union Party, the DUP.  The DUP also rejected calls for a region wide referendum.

The referendum in the Republic was a resounding Yes after voters voted 2 to 1 in favour of accepting gay marriage which brought a lot of pressure on the North to follow suit.  The pressure was applied further by an english couple filing a legal challenge to the ban which would be looked at in the coming November.  Section 75 of the Good Friday Agreement also meant it was not possible for the UK government to intervene in this area.

In November this year Stormont had another vote and although it won the vote for the first time with 53 votes for and 52 against the motion was again vetoed by the DUP but the day was still considered historic due to the majority support received.

The legal challenge which had been brought was dismissed by the judge who ruled it was for Stormont to decide social policy and not a judge. Stormont on the other hand had a long history of being split over this subject and this subject is one of the reasons why a new power sharing government has not been formed after the assembly collapsed due to the Renewable Heat Incentive scandal.

Australia had similar issues in that gay marriage was legalised in the Australian Capital Territory in 2013 but was then struck down as being inconsistent with Federal law.  Since then the government conducted a voluntary postal survey to ascertain the views of the populace on the subject.

As a result of the survey which voted 61.6% in favour the Australian Senate passed a bill “Marriage Amendment(Definition and Religious Freedoms) Bill 2017” to legalise same-sex marriage on 29th November 2017  and is now awaiting consideration by the House of Representatives.


LGBT+ History: Tom Daley

Tom Daley was always a hearthrob to many when he first appeared in the Olympics representing the UK in diving and gave hope to people of all persuasions.  For half those people hopes were dashed when he came out to the world as gay  on that well known coming-out platform YouTube.

Besides the video he released Tom Daley has won many awards over the years although most have been down to his sporting career.  In 2017 he was given an award at the LGBT Awards where he, and his husband Dustin Lance Black, claimed the ‘Independent Influencer Award’.

LGBT+ History: Alan Turing

Alan Turing is best described by the BBC in their blog, “he is famous for being an eccentric yet passionate British mathematician, who conceived modern computing and played a crucial part in the Allied victory over Nazi Germany in WW2.

He was also a victim of mid-20th Century attitudes to homosexuality – he was chemically castrated before dying at the age of 41.”

The story of Alan Turing is a sad one but one which is known by a good many people.  He was like many gay men of the era in that nobody knew his sexuality at all and instead saw his achievements and talents.  He was interested in how the mind works and thought there was a way that a machine could perform the same defined tasks.  To accomplish this he came up with the idea of a ‘Universal Machine’ that could decode and perform any set of instructions.

At the onset of the second world war Alan Turing was inducted into code breaking department to aid Britains war efforts.  It was while there that information arrived about the Enigma machine which the German forces were using to encode their transmissions.  He and his team were able to crack these codes and save many lives.  Later he also developed a way of scrambling speech and shortly after that invented the hypothetical ‘Universal Turing Machine’.  For all these accomplishments he was awarded an OBE for his efforts in wartime.

In 1952 Alan Turing was arrested for Homosexuality and was found guilty of ‘gross indecency’ as it was still illegal at that time in Britain.  He avoided prison by choosing chemical castration.  In 1954 he was found dead by cyanide poising which was ruled as suicide.  Later, people have been disputing this and believe his death was an accident.

On 24th December 2013 Alan Turing was granted a pardon under the ‘Royal Perogative of Mercy’ after a request by Justice Minister Chris Grayling.  This pardon paved the way for the creation of the “Turing law” in Westminster.  This law was the Policing and Crime Bill which came into effect on the 31st January 2017 and enshrined in law a pardon for those convicted of consensual same-sex relationships.  This amendment was tabled by Lord Sharkey, Lord Cashman and Lord Lexden with full government support.

The new law posthumously pardoned gay and bisexual men, whist also providing pardons for the living in cases where convictions have been deleted through the disregard process. This ensured that due diligence was carried out to prevent people from claiming to be cleared of offences that are still crimes – including sex with a minor and non-consensual sexual activity.  In an interview with Radio 4 Lord Sharkey said that of the 65,000 men who had been convicted under the laws only 15,0000 were still alive.  See the official announcement for the law here:

In August 2017 Scotland announced a bill of its own but that one would automatically pardon people rather than require people to apply for it.

LGBT+ History: Same sex marriage

Peter McGraith and David Cabreza had been together for 17 years before the big day on 29th March 2014.  Their wedding was among the first of many in the UK that day which symbolised the legalisation of same sex marriage in the United Kingdom.  As it was such a momentous day the ceremony did get a lot of coverage over the internet.  One of the better descriptions and articles about the day can be found here at

The Act was discussed at length in Parliament and had many hurdles to cross so some restrictions had to be put in place for the bill to proceed.  Chief among these restrictions was the allowance for a member of the clergy to decline to conduct a service for a same sex marriage.  A registrar does not have this ‘privilege’ and there was at least one case where a registrar was dismissed for refusing to conduct a ceremony in principle although as she hadn’t refused to conduct a specific wedding she was reinstated shortly after an appeal.  For further details see

For those interested in reading the official act itself please see here

LGBT+ History: The Equality Act

Over the years the different regulations which were introduced which granted protections to various parts of people’s lives. From Equality of pay, to sex discrimination or racial discrimination the Act was introduced to streamline all the legislation into a single point of reference.

The Equality Act 2010 legally protects people from discrimination in the workplace and in wider society. It replaced previous anti-discrimination laws with a single Act, making the law easier to understand and strengthening protection in some situations. The discrimination it protects from is:

● age

● being or becoming a transsexual person

● being married or in a civil partnership

● being pregnant or on maternity leave


● race including colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin

● religion, belief or lack of religion/belief

● sex

● sexual orientation

You’re protected from discrimination:

● at work

● in education

● as a consumer

● when using public services

● when buying or renting property

● as a member or guest of a private club or association

You are also protected under this act if you associate with, or support a person with one of the above protected characteristics. If a complaint was made about an incident which occurred before the act came into force in 2010 then the previous relevant Acts should be used to decide legality of it.





LGBT+ History: Gareth Thomas

In 2009, the Welsh Rugby player, Gareth Thomas came out as gay. You can read more about him here:

If ever there was a symbol which showed you should never stereotype a person it is Gareth Thomas. When a person thinks of a gay man they think of a person who is flamboyant and effeminate. As the former skipper of the British Lions and Wales Rugby teams he worked hard to make sure he was a beast on and off the field. Even with the strength he had he still wept when he decided to come out as a gay man, but in December 2009 it finally happened. Coming out was not easy though so he was fortunate that he had the assistance of the team coach who had guessed his sexuality and offered to help. As a result of coming out he became the first out Rugby Union player. Much of the rest of his story was widely reported in the news papers, one of which can be found on the BBC here:
There’s a gay and inclusive rugby professional team in South Africa, the Jozi Cats.  You can read more about them, here:
and here

In August 2015 another first happened in Rugby when Keegan Hirst came out as gay making him the first British professional rugby league player to do so.



LGBT+ History: Human Fertilisation Act

As an update to the previous 1990 Act this legislation was introduced to bring the law upto date with modern science and social concerns. []

The appropriate sections which were included to update the original Act are sections 49 and 50 which relate to marriage and civil partnerships, and also sections 42-47 which refer to the cases where a woman will be the childs second parent apart from the defined mother.

Section 53 was also introduced as a means of being able to translate many different acts to refer to a second female parent in other areas of family law.

The Act specifies that for another woman to be treated as a legal parent of the child with regards birth certificates etc, the following conditions must be met:
* The second parent must give the carrying person a notice that they consent to be treated as a parent as a result of the treatment.
* The carrying person consents to the other woman being a legal parent.
* No consent previously given has been withdrawn.
* The carrying person has not given consent for another person to be a parent of the child, whether male or female.
* Both parties should not be a prohibited degree of relationship.  This just means that the people should be sufficiently unrelated that they would meet the requirements to be able to get married even if they are not in a position to want to.[]


LGBT+ History: Civil Partnerships

Christopher Cramp and Matthew Roche complete their Civil Partnership as the first in England on 5th December 2005. Due to Mr Roche’s illness, they applied for special dispensation to hold the ceremony in the hospice before the law was due to take effect on 21st December.  Mr Roche died of terminal cancer the following day.

LGBT+ History: Adoption and Children Act

The Adoption And Children Act 2002 received royal assent and became law on November 7th 2002, although it didn’t come fully into effect until the end of December 2005.

The Act was introduced in a staged manner, hence the delay between enactment and full implementation:
*Local Authorities duties to provide adoption service and support services.
*Inter country adoptions legislation
*Further adoption Support services
*Changes to Parental Responsibility
*Changes to adopted Children’s Register

The provisions were made to overhaul the framework introduced in the Adoption Act 1976 and to more specifically cater for the needs of the child.  It also changed the provisions to allow for the adoption of children by a wider section of society.

The original Act only allowed adoption by Married couples or by one of the parents when the other was deceased or had very good reason to be excluded from their parental duties. []

The difference introduced in the new Act is that the references which said married couple and specifically referring to husband and wife now instead refer only to a couple.  The effect of this change meant that adoptions were opened up to same-sex couples. []