Well, we hope you’ve enjoyed not only this year long series going through some of the important things in LGBT history, but also some of the events that we’ve hosted or been a part of in this very special year marking the 50th anniversary since partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in the UK. Things have changed a lot since 1967, and we hope to continue being an organisation for positive change in the years to come.
Throughout the History series this year we have looked at many milestones including the first MP’s to come out so it is not difficult to wonder how things have now changed. The picture above was taken by the Independent on Sunday. It features as many of the LGB politicians as they could find of the 32 LGB members of the House of Commons who were elected in 2015.
After this was taken more politicians got added to the list, including David Mundell who became the first openly gay Conservative cabinet minister after outing himself in his blog (https://www.davidmundell.com/news/new-year-new-start) in January 2016. The then Prime Minister David Cameron and Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish first minister, both expressed their strongest support for him. He wasnt the first Cabinet minister to come out as that honour was still held by Chris Smith for Labour back in 1997.
Justin Greening later also announced she was in a same-sex relationship making her the first openly gay woman in a Conservative cabinet. Her timing for this was chosen to be made during the London Pride parade. Her announcement triggered a flurry of support from Twitter users including the Chancellor.
So who are the people who made the photograph above (courtesy of the Independent)
1 Hannah Bardell The SNP’s business, innovation and skills spokeswoman came out to “herself” during the general election last year.
2 Angela Crawley The 28-year-old was the national convener of the SNP’s youth wing before winning Lanark and Hamilton East in 2015.
3 Cat Smith – Jeremy Corbyn can count his shadow minister for women as one of his few true supporters among MPs – she used to work for him.
4 Mike Freer Parliamentary aide to Chris Grayling, the Leader of the House of Commons, since June, he previously resigned from the Government over a vote to recognise the Palestinian state.
5 Ben Howlett After winning Bath last year, the 29-year-old said the Conservatives were “more open on equality issues” than when he joined the party in 2004. (Ousted in 2017 Election)
6 Ray Collins, Baron Collins of Highbury The Labour peer praised David Cameron for “being prepared to stand up and be counted” for supporting equal marriage.
7 Jonathan Oates, Baron Oates of Denby Grange Chief of staff to Nick Clegg during the coalition years, Lord Oates has been a regular on The Independent on Sunday’s Pink and Rainbow Lists.
8 Gerald Jones The Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney MP started campaigning during the miners’ strike, aged 14, and joined Labour in 1988.
9 Joanna Cherry The Edinburgh QC is considered one of the true stars of the SNP’s 50 new MPs, having set up the “Lawyers for Yes” pro-independence group.
10 Iain Stewart The Milton Keynes South MP is a former deputy chairman of LGBTory, and won plaudits for a speech during the last parliament on how he was bullied at school for being gay.
11 Chris Smith, Baron Smith of Finsbury As plain Chris Smith in the 1980s, he made history by being the first openly gay man in the Commons. He was made Culture Secretary in 1987.
12 Chris Bryant The shadow Leader of the House of Commons is one of the wittiest Labour MPs in the Commons and has written two volumes of the history of the UK Parliament.
13 Stuart Andrew Parliamentary private secretary to the Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, he told the Commons three years ago of how he was once “beaten unconscious” in a homophobic attack.
14 Margot James The first openly lesbian Conservative MP has said her party took “far too long” to accept greater equality, but insists “those days have passed”.
15 John Nicolson The former BBC and ITV journalist joined the SNP aged 16 and was nominated as a parliamentary candidate by Alex Salmond, the former Scottish first minister. (Ousted in 2017 Election)
16 Brian Paddick, Baron Paddick of Brixton The two-time Liberal Democrat candidate for London mayor was previously famous for being the country’s most senior openly gay police officer.
17 Peter Kyle The 45-year-old Labour MP for Hove is a former chief executive at the charity leaders group Acevo and sits on the Commons Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee.
18 Crispin Blunt The Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee chair recently stunned Conservative colleagues when he announced during a Commons debate that he uses the party drug poppers.
19 Waheed Alli, Baron Alli of Norbury The 51-year-old is an openly gay Muslim who made his fortune in the media industry before becoming a peer in 1998.
20 Wes Streeting Long destined for political stardom, the former NUS president signalled his political leanings in January by stating he’d happily snog Tony Blair.
21 Martin Docherty Something of an extrovert, the SNP MP for West Dunbartonshire arrived at this photoshoot asking, loudly, “Where are the gays?”
22 Nia Griffith The shadow Welsh Secretary was married once, but is publicly coming out through this article, although her friends and family already knew.
23 David Mundell The Secretary of State for Scotland became the first ever openly gay Conservative cabinet minister last month, a decision he said was “one of the most important” of his life.
24 Angela Eagle The formidable shadow First Secretary of State brilliantly bested George Osborne at Prime Minister’s Questions, when the two stood in for their leaders in December.
25 Alan Duncan The former international development minister was the first leading Tory to enter a civil partnership in 2008.
26 Stewart McDonald The Glasgow South SNP MP, a member of the Commons Transport Select Committee, declared his party to be the “gayest group in Westminster” last year, with 12 per cent out.
27 Jenny Hilton, Baroness Hilton of Eggardon The 80-year-old former Metropolitan Police commander joined Labour’s red benches in 1991 and sits on the Sexual Violence in Conflict Committee.
28 Liz Barker, Baroness Barker of Anagach The 55-year-old Lib Dem came out during a debate on equal marriage in 2013, citing the fact that she had to “declare an interest”.
Following the General Election called in 2017, the Independent reported that British voters had returned a record number of LGBTQ MP’s to their seats when they elected 45 LGB members back into parliament. The highest proportion of elected members was in the SNP with 7 of its 35 members identifying as LGBTQ. The remaining 38 were split equally between the Conservative and Labour parties. Sophie Cook who was aiming to be the first openly transgender MP missed out by a little over 5000 votes.
The Pink News has an article which identifies all the new and re-elected members into Parliament and also includes the two who lost their seats.
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.
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. https://youtu.be/OJwJnoB9EKw
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’.
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: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/thousands-officially-pardoned-under-turings-law
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.
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 https://www.buzzfeed.com/jimwaterson/unforgettable-moments-from-the-uks-first-same-sex-wedding?utm_term=.ru66Kr1RN#.shDQrV1D5
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 http://www.christianconcern.com/our-concerns/religious-freedom/victory-for-christian-registrar-dismissed-for-refusing-to-conduct-sam
For those interested in reading the official act itself please see here http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2013/30/section/1/enacted
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:
● 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
● 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.
In 2009, the Welsh Rugby player, Gareth Thomas came out as gay. You can read more about him here: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2010/may/04/gareth-thomas-gay-interview-crusaders
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: http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/rugby_union/welsh/8421956.stm
There’s a gay and inclusive rugby professional team in South Africa, the Jozi Cats. You can read more about them, here:http://www.jozicats.co.za/ and here http://www.upworthy.com/these-gay-rugby-players-are-dismantling-stereotypes-one-photo-at-a-time
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. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keegan_Hirst#/media/File:Keegan_Hirst.jpg
As an update to the previous 1990 Act this legislation was introduced to bring the law upto date with modern science and social concerns. [https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2008/22/pdfs/ukpga_20080022_en.pdf]
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.[https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1986/16/section/1]
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.