In Hertfordshire, and at Hertfordshire Music Service, our Pride celebrations are at their greatest in August, coinciding with Herts Pride, Hertfordshire’s largest LGBTQ+ festival.
We recognise the contribution and impact LGBTQ+ individuals have made to society and the arts. The LGBTQ+ community has had to fight for acceptance, inclusion, and civil rights in a society that has historically shunned their very existence.
The LGBTQ+ community continues to face many obstacles for their individual rights and Hertfordshire Music Service stands in solidarity with our LGBTQ+ family, friends, colleauges and neighbors.
LGBTQ+ History Month is an annual celebration that provides education and insight into the issues that the LGBTQ+ community faces.
The primary aim of LGBTQ+ History Month is to teach young people about the history of the gay rights movement and to promote an inclusive modern society.
LGBT+ History Month started in the UK in 2003 following on from an initiative that was created by educators and activists Sue Sanders and Paul Patrick as part of a Schools Out UK project. The programme was set up to educate young people about the issues members of the LGBT+ community face and to make schools feel inclusive for everyone, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation.
The event was held in February to coincide with the 2003 abolition of Section 28 of the 1988 Local Government Act.
Section 28 was a piece of legislation stated that local authorities were not allowed to "intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality"; between 150 and 200 events took place across the UK to celebrate LGBT+ History Month that year.
The event has been held in the UK in February every year since.
On 1 February 2019, Professor Sanders was honoured with the Prime Minister's Points of Lights Award, an award that recognises "outstanding individual volunteers" who are making a positive change in their communities.
1835: Last two men executed for homosexual acts in the UK
The last two men to be executed for homosexual acts were James Pratt and John Smith on 27 November 1835.
1946: Autobiography of the first transgender man
In 1946 Michael Dillon published Self: A Study in Endocrinology. The book, which in contemporary terms could be described as an autobiography of the first transgender man to undergo phalloplasty surgery, recounted Dillon’s journey from Laura to Michael, and the surgeries undertaken by pioneering surgeon Sir Harold Gillies
27 July 1967: Sexual Offences Act
The Sexual Offences Act decriminalised homosexual acts between two men, both over the age of 21, in private. The age of consent was set at 21 (compared to 16 for heterosexuals and lesbians).
1968: DSM-II (the American classification of mental disorders) lists homosexuality as a mental disorder
In the 1950s and 1960s many therapists employed aversion therapy to ‘cure’ male homosexuality. The DSM-II listings were adopted by the World Health Organization and used as a standard worldwide. By including homosexuality in its list of mental disorders, many gay and bisexual men and women in the UK would suffer humiliating and painful treatments in order to be ‘cured’.
May 1988: Section 28 of the Local Government Act
When a copy of Jenny Lives with Eric and Martin by Susanne Bosche was found in a local authority library in 1983, it caused an outcry. The Daily Mail lambasted local councils for promoting homosexuality to children at the tax payer’s expense.
The argument escalated to the highest levels of government and resulted in the now-infamous Section 28 of the Local Government Act. Expressly denying local authorities the ability to support its LGBT constituents, funding was withdrawn from arts projects, while educational and resource materials which ‘prompt[ed] an alternative gay family’ were censored.
Section 28 remained enforceable until 2003. In 2009 British Prime Minister David Cameron issued a public apology for it.
1992: World Health Organization removes homosexuality from its list of mental disorders
After 24 years, homosexuality was removed from the World Health Organization’s classification of mental disorders. Many LGBTQ peoples in the UK were subjected to aversion treatments and detrimental counselling as a result of the listing by the DSM-II (the American classification of mental disorders) in 1968.
February 1994: Age of consent for gay men reduced to 18
The Conservative Member of Parliament Edwina Currie introduced an amendment to lower the age of consent for homosexual acts from 21 to 16, in line with the age for heterosexual acts. The vote was defeated and the gay male age of consent was lowered to 18 instead. The lesbian age of consent was not set.
2001: UK Government lifts ban on lesbians, gay and bisexual people serving in armed forces
Before this time, gay and lesbian people could not serve in the Armed Forces. They would have to keep their sexual orientation secret, or they could be fired.
2001: Age of consent for gay/bi men lowered to 16
After three defeats in the House of Lords, the Labour Government forced through legislation lowering the age of consent for gay men to 16. The Scottish parliament voted to adopt this legislation north of the border
2002: Equal rights for adoption to same-sex couples
The Adoption and Children Act 2002 allowed gay and lesbian single people, as well as same-sex couples, to adopt a child in the UK. Before this, neither same-sex couples nor unmarried heterosexual couples could adopt or foster children.
2003: Repeal of Clause 28 in England and Wales
Section 28 is 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’.
2003: Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations
Until 2003, employers could discriminate against LGBTQ people by not hiring them or promoting them, based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. LGBTQ people did not have protection from bullying and sometimes were not offered the same benefits as other colleagues, or were unfairly affected by rules at work. This legislation made it illegal to discriminate against lesbians, gay and bisexual people in the workplace.
18 November 2004: Civil Partnership Act
2004: Gender Recognition Act
2008: The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act
Same-sex couples were recognised as the legal parents of children conceived through the use of donated sperm, eggs or embryos.
2010: Equality Act
The Equality Act 2010 legislates for equal treatment in access to employment as well as private and public services, regardless of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.
The Act also has several restrictions that cause concern, however. It allows religious and faith institutions in England, Scotland and Wales permission to refuse a same-sex marriage ceremony if it contravenes their beliefs.
With limited exceptions, the Equality Act 2010 does not apply in Northern Ireland.
17 July 2013: Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act
Although same-sex couples could enter into Civil Partnerships, they were not permitted to marry. This Act gave same-sex couples the opportunity to get married just like any other couple. Same-sex couples already in a Civil Partnership could also now convert this to a marriage.
It came into effect in 2014. The first same-sex marriages took place in England and Wales on 29 March 2014.
2013: Alan Turing receives posthumous royal pardon
2017: ‘Alan Turing law'
The Policing and Crime Act 2017 pardoned all historic instances of criminal convictions of gross indecency against men. This has become known as the ‘Alan Turing law’. The Act only applies to convictions in England and Wales. A campaign for the pardon to be implemented in Scotland and Northern Ireland is ongoing.
Hertfordshire Music Service has put together a playlist of music from LGBTQ+ artists, with contributions from parents, carers, colleauges and young people from the Stevenage Youth Music Council.
Below are some helpful websites that you may be interested in.