Category Archives: LGBT History 2017

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. [https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1976/36/section/14]

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. [http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2002/38/pdfs/ukpga_20020038_en.pdf]

LGBT+ History: Gender Recognition Act


In 2004 the government passed this act after pressure from the European Court Of Human Rights, following rulings on the Goodwin & I v’s UK case link: https://hudoc.echr.coe.int/eng#{%22itemid%22:[%22001-60596%22]}

In the early years it was required that in order to get the certificate the applicant could not be married and had to provide evidence of long term transition although to a lesser degree than those who applied later on as it was deemed more difficult for those people to gather the required historical information.

Once evidence is gathered the information is submitted to a panel of experts who will decide if the person has supplied enough evidence that they have been, and intend to continue to, live in the acquired gender.  The additional requirement of having, or having had, Gender Dysphoria is also assessed by the panel.  Later legislation allowing same sex marriage in 2013, 2014 in Scotland, required amendments to the Act but otherwise little has changed.

The amendments made as a result of the Same-Sex Marriage Act(s) requires that both parties in the marriage sign a statutory declaration stating they wish to remain married.  If one or both do not wish to remain married then an interim recognition certificate can be granted which apply as grounds to end the marriage.  Applicants in Northern Ireland are unable to remain married on application for a Gender Recognition Certificate.

The governemnt website includes statistics of the number of applications received and approved and the latest quarterly figures showed the highest number of applicants registered as female at birth than any previous year with 47%.

Once a certificate is issued the applicant will be considered in law to be completely of the acquired gender for all purposes.

For those who would like to get further information about the Act or to apply for recognition the information is held here: https://www.gov.uk/apply-gender-recognition-certificate with the guidance leaflet here: https://formfinder.hmctsformfinder.justice.gov.uk/t455-eng.pdf

LGBT+ History: Civil Partnerships

The Civil Partnership Act is passed in 2004, granting legal civil partnership in the United Kingdom. The Act gives same-sex couples the same rights and responsibilities as married straight couples in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

The change was rolled out at different times across the UK, meaning the first couple to enter into a civil partnership under regular circumstances were Grainne Close and Sharon Sickles of Belfast, Northern Ireland (pictured above).

LGBT+ History: Section 28 repealed

In 2003, Section 28 is finally repealed in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, lifting the ban on local authorities from ‘the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality’.  The repeal was made legal on 28th November, after the Local Government Bill received Royal Assent.

Section 28, or Clause 28 was originally brought into law in 1988, and although this was not a criminal offence, so no prosecutions were ever brought, many LGBT+ support groups closed or limited their activities for fear of breaking the act.  The act required that local authorities did not spent money promoting homosexuality, but in reality, many schools and colleges understood it to mean that they were unable to discuss or talk about homosexuality with pupils and students.

In response to the repeal Kent County Council decided to create their own version of Section 28 to keep the effect of the now repealed law in their schools. Their original policy stated that: “the council shall not publish, purchase or distribute to children inappropriate material for any sex education, including the intentional promotion of homosexuality” LGBT+ support services raised concerns with Kent County Council, and received a letter in response, which you can read here: https://issuu.com/queeryouth/docs/kent_section_28_letter

The council revised their statement, and it was replaced on 16 December 2004 with provisions stating that: “We will ensure that sex education values family and marriage as the foundation of a civilised society, and a firm basis for the nurturing of children”  Campaigners celebrated the victory, but were wary of the inclusion of ‘marriage as the foundation of a civilised society; as equal marriage was not yet law.  You can read their press release here: https://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2005/01/303498.html

 

LGBT+ History: The Armed Forces

In 2000 The UK Government lifted the ban on LGBT+ people serving in the armed forces.

Prior to this, the Armed Forces Policy and Guidelines on Homosexuality stated that the homosexual lifestyle was “incompatible” with military life “because of the close physical conditions in which personnel often have to live and work, and also because homosexual behaviour can cause offense, polarise relationships, induce ill-discipline and damage morale and unit effectiveness”.

In September of 1999, the European Court of Human Rights found that the British Armed Forces had discriminated against LGB service personnel, by releasing them from service if it was found out that they were LGB.  The British Government stated that it would abide by the court ruling, and immediately lifted the ban, with changes coming into force on 12th January 2000.  This was years before the American Armed Services repealed their ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy in 2011.

Currently Hannah Winterbourne serves as the British Army’s highest ranking Trans* officer. You can read more about her here: https://www.ft.com/content/5af4d0e0-a747-11e6-8b69-02899e8bd9d1

In February 2005, the Royal Navy joined Stonewall’s Diversity Champions programme, followed in November 2006 by the Royal Air Force and by the British Army the largest of the three services in June 2008, to promote good working conditions for all existing and potential employees and to ensure equal treatment for those who are lesbian, gay and bisexual.  At London Pride in 2008, all three armed services marched in the parade in uniform for the first time.

LGBT+ History: TDOR

Trans* Day of Remembrance is founded in the USA in 1999, and then later commemorated in the UK and worldwide, to remember those who have been murdered as a result of transphobia and to bring attention to the continued violence endured by the Trans* community.
               
The International Transgender Day of Remembrance is a day which is set aside to remember those who were killed due to anti-transgender hate or prejudice.  It is held annually on the 20th November and was founded by another Transgender woman Gwendolyn Ann Smith. See gwensmith.com on the https://web.archive.org to follow the articles she had written for some of the regional LGBT newspapers.
The event was first held to honour Rita Hester who was murdered on November 28th 1998 sparking the “remembering our dead” web project and a candlelight vigil in San Francisco in 1999.  The vigil started at the Model Café in Allston and ended at her apartment, where she had been stabbed 20 times.  Like many cases of this kind the case remains unsolved.
The “Remembering our dead” project links to a now defunct website but the last version can be found on the web archive.  See https://web.archive.org/web/20120303030252/http://rememberingourdead.org/#
Other projects also sprang into life from this, including http://Transrespect.org  who have other useful information regarding different aspects of how Transgender people are treated around the globe.
Additional info:  Rita’s grave details can be found here https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=20320835

 

LGBT+ History: Baron Waheed Alli

In 1998 Waheed Alli becomes the first openly gay member of the House of Lords and one of a few openly gay Muslims. Alli has used his political position to argue for gay rights. He spearheaded the campaign to repeal Section 28 (pdf). He advocated lowering the age of consent for homosexuals from 18 to 16, equal to heterosexuals; this eventually became law as the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 2000 (link). It was during a heated exchange with conservative opponents, led by Baroness Young, that he informed his fellow peers that he was gay. In April 1999, he said in a speech, “I have never been confused about my sexuality. I have been confused about the way I am treated as a result of it. The only confusion lies in the prejudice shown, some of it tonight [i.e. in the House], and much of it enshrined in the law.”

In 2009, he spearheaded an effort to repeal clauses in the Civil Partnership Act 2004 which prohibited religious institutions from conducting the ceremonies on their premises. This campaign culminated in a bipartisan amendment, which became part of the Equality Act 2010