An LGB 21st Century so far

Over the last decade there have been many changes in legislation that affect lesbian, gay and bisexual people. Over the next few pages are just a few of the many milestones on the road to full legal rights for LGB people in the 21st Century.


Government lifts the ban on lesbian and gay men serving in the armed forces.


Age of consent reduced to 16.


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


Repeal of Section 28.
Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations became law, making it illegal to discriminate against lesbians, gay men and bisexuals in the workplace.


Sexual Offences Act abolishes the crimes of buggery and gross indecency.
Civil Partnership Act passed giving same-sex couples the same rights and responsibilities as married heterosexual couples.


The first civil partnerships for same-sex couples are allowed to be registered on 5 December, taking effect from 21 December.
Section 146 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 implemented, empowering courts to impose tougher sentences for offences aggravated or motivated by the victim’s sexual orientation.


Section 28 repealed in the Isle of Man.
The Commission for Equality & Human Rights, a non-departmental public body, was established under the Equality Act 2006. It was created on 1 October 2007.


The Commission for Equality & Human Rights (Now EHRC) makes discrimination against lesbian, gay and bisexual people in the provision of goods and services illegal.
The Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007 becomes law.


Parliament passes provisions in the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act, creating a new offence of incitement to homophobic hatred.
Parliament passes the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008, which gives better legal recognition to same-sex parents.


Provisions from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 come into force to giving legal recognition to lesbian parents who conceive a child through fertility treatment.
The Equality Bill introduced to Parliament, with important implications for sexual orientation equality.


The Equality Act 2010 becomes law bringing together more than forty years of equality legislation and aims to make Britain a more equal society. It impacts on all UK employers, regardless of size, and applies across the public, private and voluntary sectors.
The groups under the protection of the Act (known as ‘protected characteristics’) are:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Marriage and civil partnership
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Race
  • Religion and belief
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation


The Government Equalities Office held a consultation which will allow civil partnerships to happen on religious premises.

  • Lack of data means the Home Office are unclear as to whether applicants are still being deported to countries where they risk persecution because of sexual orientation.

The Church of England debates whether homosexual clergy in Civil Partnerships can become bishops, if they are celibate.
The Department of Health’s Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs review the ban on men who have sex with men donating blood.


The Protection of Freedoms Bill has been introduced with the aim of becoming law by early 2012. Certain convictions under the 1956 Sexual Offences Act will be erased from police and other official records by application from those who have been affected by committing a former criminal offence.
It is hoped that religious premises willing to allow Civil Partnerships will soon be able to apply through their local authorities for a licence. It is hoped that this current proposal, will eventually lead to full equal marriage rights.

August 2011