This February : LGBT+ History Month
Celebrating LGBT+ History this February, a Queer Arts Collective at Edinburgh University is planning an exhibition at the Edinburgh College of Art. We think this would be a fantastic opportunity for students to take a theme (not a colour this time :) ) and create some art work. Not only would it be handy for ya CVs but it would be a chance to celebrate the history of such an important group helping to shape our city.
Link to the sign up sheet:
Or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information!
……. Ooooooooh history we hear you say……………. FRUIT has done a wee bit o research for your (our) uneducated minds:
An Incredibly brief history of LGBT+ Rights in the UK
Addressing sexuality can be traced all the way back to the reign of Henry VIII. The Buggery Act of 1533 was passed by his Parliament and completely outlawed sodomy in Britain. It was the first time male homosexuality was explicitly targeted by the law and was thus punishable by death.
Later, the death penalty was abolished under the 1861 ‘Offences Against the Person’ Act, instead making the act punishable by a minimum of 10 years in prison. However, a step back was taken for the cause when in 1885 the ‘Criminal Law Amendment Act’ made any male homosexual act illegal, whether a witness was present or not. Oscar Wilde was prosecuted under this legislation in 1895.
Up until the post war period, female homosexuality was never fully addressed in the public eye. It was in the post war period that transgender identities began to become visible. In 1946 Michael Dillon published an autobiography of his transgender journey from Laura to Michael. He wrote
“Where the mind cannot be made to fit the body, the body should be made to fit, approximately at any rate, to the mind.”
Finally, in 1967, the British Government published the Sexual Offences Act, stating that homosexuality could no longer be regarded as a disease. This was backed by the Church of England and House of Lords, reaching Scotland in 1980 and Northern Ireland in 1981.
2004 should be highlighted as a significant year for the cause. The Civil Partnership Act allowed same-sex couples to enter into partnership and the Gender Recognition Act gave transgender people full legal recognition of their gender, allowing them to acquire new birth certificates (although gender options are still limited to ‘male’ or ‘female’).
Whilst milestones have been reached in achieving equality and rights for the LGBT+ Community, there can be no doubt that there is still a way to go. Commemorations of the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Sexual Offences Act in 2017 fell at an interesting time for British history. The result of the EU referendum has added to existing insecurities about where we place ourselves in the world, with hate crimes against the community increasing.
February, celebrating the history of LGBT+ Rights, will give us the chance to reflect upon the legislative and social changes towards the LGBT+ community. How far we’ve come on both a national and international scale, and how we intend to shape measures towards equality in a politically uncertain time.