LGBTQ+ History Month UK is celebrated in February. Founded In 1994 by a high-school history teacher and brought to the UK by Schools Out UK in 2005, it’s a month for observing the history of gay rights, LGBT civil rights movements as well as the wider historical contribution of LGBTQ+ people to society/humanity. This year’s theme is “The Arc is Long”, referring to Dr Martin Luther King Jr’s quote “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice”.
This year is the 50th anniversary of the UK’s first official Pride March, which was held in 1972 in North London and attended by 2000 people. Since then, a lot has changed – an estimated 1.5 million people attended the most recent London Pride March in 2019. LGBTQ+ rights have broadly increased across the UK, with same-sex marriage being legalised (only) 8 years ago.
Some of the challenges still facing LGBTQ+ people include poorer mental health, safety concerns, conscious and unconscious biases, adoption rights, higher levels of homelessness and so-called ‘conversion therapy’.
As an allied employer, Madano is proud of, champions and actively supports our LGBTQ+ colleagues. We strive to safely welcome those who identify as LGBTQ+ to talk about and share their experiences.
Considering the aim of LGBTQ+ History Month has always been to “eliminate prejudice by educating people”, we wanted to take this opportunity to share some notable milestones in the UK’s modern LGBTQ+ history:
- December 1939: Alan Turing solves the Enigma code used for coded communications by the Axis powers in WWII – in 1952 he is prosecuted for same-sex activities and was subsequently chemically castrated – he received a post-humous pardon from Queen Elizabeth II in 2013
- July 1967: Homosexuality is decriminalised in England and Wales – it is not decriminalised in Northern Ireland until 1981 following intervention by the European Court of Human Rights
- June 1969: Stonewall Riots in the USA catalysed the modern LGBTQ+ civil rights movement, including the formation of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF)
- November 1972: The first UK LGBTQ+ Pride March is held in North London
- October 1975: Maureen Colquhoun becomes the first openly gay Member of Parliament (she later died in 2021)
- October 1981: The first HIV/AIDs death in Britain is reported at the Royal Brompton Hospital in London – an estimated 33 million HIV/AIDs related deaths have occurred globally since – the UK is projected to have 0 new transmissions of HIV by 2030
- January 1992: The World Health Organisation (WHO) declassified same-sex attraction as a mental illness
- March 1997: Equal immigration rights in the UK are extended to same-sex couples
- January 2000: The ban on lesbian, gay and bisexual people serving in the UK army was lifted
- December 2005: The Civil Partnership Act 2004 comes into force, allowing same-sex couples legal recognition of their relationship, although there remain some technical differences compared to marriage
- March-December 2014: Same-sex marriage was legalised in England, Wales and Scotland (legalised in 2020 in Northern Ireland)
Reflecting on the past can give us an insight into the expectations that we can have for the future. Even though the arc has been long in achieving equality, diversity, and impactful change, we’re grateful for the present and optimistic about the future.