Theresa May, David Cameron, Tony Blair and Sir John Major hail 50th anniversary of landmark gay reforms
Thursday 27 July 2017 marks 50 years since homosexuality was partially decriminalised in England and Wales.
The move allowed men to have sex with men, provided they were two consenting adults, aged over 21, in their own home and there was nobody else in the building.
It wasn’t a sweeping reform which immediately transformed the lives of gay and bisexual men.
But it did start a movement for LGBT rights that has continued through five decades, with same-sex marriage introduced in 2013.
Political leaders were not always on side – Margaret Thatcher, who in fact rebelled against her party to support decriminalisation, is widely condemned by the LGBT community.
Today, four out of five living British Prime Ministers – all of whom support equal marriage – write for PinkNews, as they hail five decades of progress.
PinkNews will be publishing a fifth piece from Gordon Brown on Thursday 27 July.
Theresa May (2016-Present)This month sees the fiftieth anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act in England and Wales, which – sponsored by a Labour MP and a Conservative peer – was a cross-party breakthrough in the fight for equality. But as we celebrate, it is also right that we reflect on that moment to remind ourselves that there is much more to do.
The momentous changes to the law in 1967 started the journey towards equality which has continued into this decade with same-sex marriage – but while 1967 was a landmark, it took many more decades for it to become widely accepted that a person’s sexuality and gender identity are things to respect and celebrate.
Today we remembered and celebrated those who knew what was right and fought for it tirelessly, who were way ahead of the politics of their time, and who shifted public attitudes on LGBT+ equality.
I am proud of the role my Party has played in recent years in advocating a Britain which seeks to end discrimination on the grounds of sexuality or gender identity, but I acknowledge where we have been wrong on these issues in the past.
There will justifiably be scepticism about the positions taken and votes cast down through the years by the Conservative Party, and by me, compared to where we are now.
But like the country we serve, my Party and I have come a long way.
David Cameron (2010-2016)
50 years ago this month the Sexual Offences Act 1967 was passed – partially decriminalising male homosexuality in England and Wales. The Act was far from perfect, but a significant starting point on the long road to true equality.
We’re still on that road and, of course, more needs to be done, particularly on the vital task of working internationally to change laws and attitudes. But this anniversary is a good opportunity to reflect on the progress made in our own country over the past half century.
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