Here in the UK, we celebrate LGBT History Month every February, despite the United States enjoying the same event through October! Having waved goodbye to another decade (2010-19), we've decided to take a look back at some of the most notable queer moments that have secured their place in history, which will be discussed in the decades and centuries to come...

The Equality Act 2010

Despite Pope Benedict XVI condemning British equality legislation as running against "natural law", following confirmation he'd be making his first visit to the UK, The Equality Act 2010 was put into place, which made discrimination against lesbians and gay men in the provision of goods and services illegal.

This meant that when civil partners Martyn Hall and Steven Preddy were refused a double room at the Bulls' B&B by owners Peter and Hazelmary Bull, they had a case to take to court. In 2011, that case was heard, and they were successful in their complaint.

Blood donation rule changes

There's still some way to go when it comes to the rules surrounding gay and bisexual men donating blood, but in 2011, a small step was made to ensure that everybody who could give blood would be able to do so if they chose, regardless of their sexuality. England, Wales and Scotland allowed gay and bisexual men to donate blood after a one-year deferral period.

Northern Ireland would finally catch up and allow gay and bisexual men to donate blood after the same deferral period in 2016.

The fight for equal marriage continued

In 2012, Government Ministers pledged to push through legislation granting same-sex couples full and equal rights to get married. This threatened a split with the Church of England, but the coalition government continued to push for equality and unveiled their Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill in January 2013.

In May, the bill passed comfortably through its third reading in the House of Commons by a vote of 366 to 161, with 133 Tories opposing the bill, as well as 15 Labour MPs, four Lib Dems, eight Democratic Unionists and an independent.

Royal Assent was given to the bill on July 17th, 2013. 

On March 29th, 2014, same sex marriage became legal under the act.

Alan Turing was finally given his pardon

Highly influential in the development of theoretical computer science, Alan Turing worked for the Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park during the Second World War. Leading the charge and devising a number of techniques that sped up the breaking of German ciphers, he was an instrumental figure in ensuring the British were successful during the battle against the Nazis. Despite that crucial role, Turing was villainised.

In 1952, he was prosecuted for homosexual acts, for which the punishment was chemical castration as an alternative to prison. Two years later, Turing passed away from cyanide poisoning. An inquest ruled his death as a suicide, but known evidence is consistent with an accidental poisoning.

Members of the LGBTQ+ community came together for decades to try and gain the pardon Turing so dearly deserved, and that was given by Queen Elizabeth II in 2013. It came four years after former Labour Government Prime Minister, Gordon Brown made an official public apology on behalf of the British government for the way in which he was treated.

Nikki Sinclaire becomes the UK's first openly transgender Parliamentarian

Nikki Sinclaire was originally elected as an MEP in June 2009 as a UK Independence Party candidate, but quickly left the group and sat as an independent MEP from January 2010 until September 2012, setting up the We Demand a Referendum Party in her time there. She was later unsuccessful in regaining her MEP status.

Sinclaire was assigned male at birth, but says that she felt "trapped in the wrong body" from the age of just three. In November 2013, Sinclaire spoke publicly about her gender identity, which made her the first openly transgender Parliamentarian in the UK.

In 2016, Anwen Muston would be elected to Wolverhampton City Council, making her the first openly transgender woman to be elected as a Labour representative.

The Crown supports the LGBT community for the first time

Queen Elizabeth II made history in 2014 when she congratulated the London Lesbian and gay Switchboard for their 40-year run. This was the first time a British monarch had ever given their public support to the LGBT community.

A comment from the Queen herself said: "Best wishes and congratulations to all concerned on this most special anniversary."

Northern Ireland almost makes equal marriage legal

In 2015, Northern Ireland's assembly voted narrowly in favour of bringing in gay marriage equality, but thanks to the powers afforded to the largest party in the devolved parliament, the Democratic Unionist Party were able to veto any change in the law.

Fortunately, the past few months saw Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Julian Smith sign in regulations implementing same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland, back in December 2019. Equal marriage then became legal from January 13th, 2020.

The UK Parliament hosts the largest number of LGBT MPs in the world

In 2016, the Parliament of the United Kingdom had 40 LGBT MPs in its ranks, which at the time was the most in any parliament around the world.

Further to that, Hannah Blythyn, Jeremy Miles and Adam Price, who became the first openly gay members of the Welsh Assembly.

Meanwhile, Carl Austin-Behan was sworn in as Manchester's first openly gay Lord Mayor. A brilliant time for LGBTQ+ politicians!

The 2017 general election would do better, electing 45 gay, lesbian or bisexual MPs.

Prince William covers Attitude magazine

The Royal Family continued in its support for the community when Prince William became the first member of the monarchy to appear on the cover of a gay magazine. He fronted Attitude in June 2016, and openly condemned the bullying of the gay community as part of their feature.

The Armed Forces Act 2016

Following years of fighting for change, the Armed Forces Act 2016 finally repealed "homosexual acts as a grounds of discharge from the armed forces," making history and going a long way to prove that no matter what your sexuality, if you decide to serve your country, you should be respected for doing so.

Lord Ivar Mountbatten's wedding

In 2016, Lord Ivar Mountbatten came out as homosexual, and said he was in a relationship with James Coyle: a man he met whilst at a ski resort in Verbier.

Both he and James Coyle enjoyed a relationship away from the spotlight until 2018, when they tied the knot. This made Lord Mountbatten the first member of the British monarch's extended family to enjoy a same sex wedding.

RELATED: Philip Baldwin discusses the importance of LGBT History Month


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