LGBT Timeline & Milestones

Take a look back at how far we have come. It may surprise you have some events have only been recent.


Roberta Cowell is the first known British trans woman to undergo reassignment surgery and have her birth certificate changed.

The Homosexual Law Reform Society is founded to campaign for the legalisation of same-sex relationships in the UK.

The Sexual Offences Act 1967 decriminalises sex between two men over 21 and ‘in private’. It did not extend to the Merchant Navy or the Armed Forces, or Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man, where sex between two men remained illegal.

The first Pride is held in London, attracting approximately 2,000 participants.

Sex between two men over the age of 21 ‘in private’ is decriminalised in Scotland.

A landmark court case finds that Northern Ireland’s criminalisation of same-sex acts violates the European Convention on Human Rights.

Men who have sex with men are asked not to donate to UK blood banks amid the AIDS crisis.

UK Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, introduces Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988. The Act states that a local authority “shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality” or “promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship”.
Denmark becomes the first country in the world to give legal recognition to same-sex partnerships.

World Health Organisation declassifies same-sex attraction as a mental illness.

Mermaids is founded by a group of parents brought together by their children’s longstanding gender issues. The UK charity offers appropriate resources to young people, their families and carers, and professionals working with gender variant young people.

The UK Government lifts the ban on lesbians, gay men and bi people serving in the armed forces.

The age of consent is lowered to 16 (having been lowered from 21 to 18 in 1994), making it the same as the age of consent for straight people.

Equal rights are granted to same-sex couples applying for adoption.

The Civil Partnership Act 2004 is passed, granting 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 Gender Recognition Act 2004 is passed giving trans people full legal recognition in their appropriate gender. The Act allows trans people to acquire a new birth certificate, although gender options are still limited to ‘male’ or ‘female’.

Section 146 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 empowers UK courts to impose tougher sentences for offences aggravated or motivated by the victim’s sexual orientation, or their presumed sexual orientation.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 recognises same-sex couples as legal parents of children conceived through the use of donated sperm, eggs or embryos.

David Cameron apologises on behalf of the Conservative party for the introduction of Section 28.

Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act is passed in England and Wales.

The US legalises same-sex marriage.
Mozambique decriminalises same-sex relationships.
Ireland votes by a huge majority to legalise same-sex marriage, becoming the first country in the world to do so by a referendum.

The Government issues a posthumous pardon to all gay and bi men who were convicted under pernicious sexual offences laws in the last century which enabled police to criminalise people for being gay or bi.
Amendments made to the Children and Social Work Bill, which will make relationships and sex education (RSE) mandatory in all schools in England and Wales from 2019.
The Department of Health reduces the deferral period for gay and bi men wishing to donate blood from 12 months to three months.