This Friday marks the start of LGBT History Month in the UK — a time to promote tolerance while raising awareness of the prejudices still faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
It is also a chance to remember the events and people that have changed LGBT history around the world — from Edith Windsor in America to Nelson Mandela in South Africa, who ensured that LGBT discrimination was outlawed in his country’s constitution.
The UK has not always been accepting of LGBT people. British law first oppressed homosexuality in 1533, when it was made punishable by death.
It remained illegal for nearly 450 years, with playwright Oscar Wilde and revolutionary mathematician Alan Turing suffering under the harsh laws preventing it.
But in 1967, homosexual acts were decriminalised in the UK. Since then, Britain has seen its first Pride event, introduced same-sex marriage and given transgender people the right to a new birth certificate.
But there is more to do. Being gay is illegal in over 70 countries around the world. In eight, it is punishable by death. And in the UK, one in five LGBT people experienced a hate crime in 2017, according to research by Stonewall.
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When was the best time in history to be gay? This video gives a short history of LGBT rights.
- Make a timeline of important LGBT moments in UK history.
- Write an article about an LGBT person you admire, either from history or today.
- Class debate: Will homophobia and transphobia always exist?