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British LGBTQ history and its impact today – Part 2

British LGBTQ history and its impact today – Part 2

This section I found quite difficult to write out because so much of British LGBTQ history was impacted by events outside of Britain. Usually when talking about LGBTQ rights we focus on Stonewall and the birth of pride marches and the lives and works of people such as James Baldwin, Audre Lorde, Harvey Milk, Marsha P Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, Stormé DeLarverie and many others who had a global impact. However I’ve tried to just focus on a few key parts of history here which still have effects on us today.


Women’s Liberation and Lesbian Liberation

In the 1970s the second wave of feminism was taking place demanding for women to earn the same wages as men and be treated as equal citizens in law. In this period a huge increase in lesbian politics and feminism took place. Sappho Magazine was launched in April 1972 which was a Lesbian Feminist magazine that organised the community with support groups for lesbian families and teachers.

Maureen Colquhoun was elected in 1974 and became the first openly lesbian MP and the first out member of the LGBTQ community to be in parliament. She campaigned on aspects on women’s rights which are still being campaigned on today such as greater protection for sex workers and liberalising abortion. Her local Labour party deselected her in 1977 claiming that she was too focused on women’s issues, however Labour’s National Executive Committee overruled this as sexual orientation-based discrimination.

The intersection between LGBTQ rights and Feminism is still incredibly important in today’s politics with equality only being achieved when everyone’s issues are heard.

Section 28

Enacted by Margret Thatcher’s government in 1988, section 28 prohibited “promoting the teaching of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship.” While in the 1970s tolerance and acceptance had been on the increase, in the 1980s the AIDS pandemic and the media-led moral panic around it led to a rise in conservative values which led to a huge increase in anti-LGBTQ sentiment.

The law wasn’t repealed in England till 2003 and the culture of unchallenged bullying it inspired still exists in schools today. During my own experiences at school, LGBTQ issues were rarely brought up and where they were, such as around gay marriage in R.E lessons, they were debated.  Transphobic and homophobic slurs often go unchallenged. In 2017 Stonewall found 52% of pupils hearing slurs often. However things are starting to improve with rates of bullying starting to decrease and more inclusive teaching being brought into schools.

Justin Fashanu

There has only ever been one openly gay footballer in the English Premier League and this was Justin Fashanu, who played for Norwich and came out in 1990. He suffered horrific racist abuse throughout his career. He chose to sell his coming out story to The Sun after a tabloid had threatened to out him and was followed by a huge amount of homophobic abuse.

His life is just one example of how Black Queer people in Britain face additional discrimination. Research from Stonewall in 2018 found that 61% of Black LGBTQ people reported experiencing racism in the LGBTQ community. Black Pride was launched in 2005 to create a space focused on celebrating queer people of colour in Britain and is continuing to grow.

Football and sports continue to be areas of Britain where homophobia is rife. However progress is being made. Women’s football is leading the way with over 40 openly gay or bisexual coaches or players at the last World Cup.


LGBTQ history month is a great opportunity to look back and see how far society has come. LGBTQ people have gone through various periods of acceptance followed by increased condemnation so it’s really important that this history is taught. Hope everyone has a good week and stays safe.



Sources and more reading:

Women’s Liberation and Lesbian Liberation

Maureen Colquhoun:

Sappho Magazine:,with%20Jackie%20Forster%20as%20editor.&text=Sappho%20Magazine%2D%20%22Set%20up%20in,support%20lesbians%20and%20women’s%20causes%22.


Section 28


Justin Fashanu

Black Pride, LGBTQ and Race:

Rainbow Laces, LGBTQ Football:

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