Equality Alliance





1533 As part of the reformation of the church under Henry VIII, "the abominable Vice of Buggery committed with mankind or beast" ceases to be an offence for the Ecclesiastical Courts and becomes a criminal offence, punishable by death. (The same Act also targets Vagabonds and Welshmen.)
"Forasmuch as there is not yet sufficient and condigne punishment appointed and limited by the due course of the laws of the Realm for the detestable and abominable vice of buggery committed with mankind or beast; It may therefore please the King's Highness with the assent of his Lords spiritual and temporal and the Commons the present parliament assembled that it may be enacted by authority of the same, that the same offence be from henceforth adjudged felony, and such order and form of process therein to be used against the offenders as in cases of felony at the common law." (1533-4, 25 Hen. 8 c. 6)
1810 Europe: many countries adopt the Napoleonic Code, which does not criminalise gay sex.
1836 Last execution for buggery.
1860 USA: Walt Whitman [1819-92] publishes homoerotic verses in "Calamus" section of "Leaves of Grass".
1861 Penalty for buggery reduced from hanging to life imprisonment.
1862 Germany: Karl Heinrich Ulrichs [1825-95] coins the term "Urning" for members of the "third sex".
1869 Germany: Károly Mária Kertbeny coins the word "homosexuality" in an open letter to the Ministry of Justice opposing persecution, and stating that the modern constitutional state has a duty to help society escape from the monstrous curse of judæo-christian fanaticism.
1871 Germany: Paragraph 175 of the new penal code criminalises gay male sex.
1883 Edward Carpenter [1844-1929] publishes "Towards Democracy", describing a new society with comradeship and sexual freedom.
1883 John Addington Symonds [1840-93] prints his essay "A Problem in Greek Ethics, Being an Inquiry into the Phenomenon of Sexual Inversion", anonymously.
1885 Publication of the first ten volumes of Sir Richard Burton's [1821-90] enthusiastic translation of the "Arabian Nights". At the end came a "Terminal Essay", including an 18,000-word section on the history and anthropology of man-boy love.
6 August 1885 Henry Labouchère adds a clause to the Criminal Law Amendment Act, punishing 'gross indecency' between males. The penalty is finally set at two years' imprisonment.
"Any male person who, in public or private, commits, or is a party to the commission of, or procures or attempts to procure the commission by any male person of, any act of gross indecency with another male person, shall be guilty of a misdemeanour, and, being convicted thereof, shall be liable, at the discretion of the Court, to be imprisoned for any term not exceeding two years with or without hard labour." (Hansard, Col.s 1397 + 1398)
1894 Manchester: Edward Carpenter gives a public lecture on "homogenic love".
April 1895 Oscar Wilde arrested.
1897 Germany: Magnus Hirschfeld [1868-1935] founds the Scientific Humanitarian Committee, (with the three goals of law reform, enlightening public opinion, and "interesting the homosexual himself in the struggle for his rights"), and launches a petition for the decriminalisation of gay sex. The petition is eventually signed by over 6000 prominent figures, including Albert Einstein.
1898 The Vagrancy Act effectively criminalises any form of male gay sex by making it an offence for a man "persistently to solicit in a public place for immoral purposes".

1900 - 1932

1903 Germany: In the first large-scale statistical survey of homosexual behaviour, a questionnaire is sent to 3000 students and nearly 6000 metal workers. Six sensitive students complain, and Magnus Hirschfeld is find 200 Marks, despite sympathetic press coverage.
8 October 1904 Berlin: at the Scientific Humanitarian Committee's AGM, lesbian feminist Anna Rühling severely berates women's liberation groups for not lifting a finger in the fight to obtain rights for lesbians.
1914 Havelock Ellis [1859-1939] and Edward Carpenter found the British Society for the Study of Sex Psychology.
December 1917 Russia/Soviet Union: the Bolsheviks rescind all laws against homosexual acts.
24 May 1919 Germany: First gay liberation film, "Anders als die Andern" (Different from the others) is shown to the press.
July 1919 Berlin: The Institute for Sexual Science opens, offering free medical advice and counselling.
1921 Berlin: First Congress of the World League for Sexual Reform.
1921 Germany: Kurt Hiller writes an appeal to the homosexuals of Germany. -- "In the final analysis, justice for you will be the fruit only of your own efforts. The liberation of homosexuals can only be the work of homosexuals themselves."

1933 - 1945

6 May 1933 Berlin: the Institute for Sexual Science is the first of the city's libraries to be pillaged by students and Storm Troopers, to the accompaniment of a brass band. Several lorry-loads were removed; other material, including over 10,000 books, was publicly burned a few days later.
1934 Soviet Union: recriminalisation under Stalin of homosexual acts. (Whilst the Soviet communists regarded homosexuality as fascist perversion, the Nazis attacked it as sexual bolshevism.)
29 June 1934 Germany: three days of terror, during which Ernst Röhm and other leaders of the S.A. were murdered.

Subsequently tens of thousands of homosexuals were sent to concentration camps, wearing an inverted pink triangle 7 cm high on jacket and trousers. Most perished.

1935 Dissolution of the World League for Sexual Reform.
1945 Towards the close of the Second World War, President Hoover warned that "total war relaxes moral standards on the home front: and this imperils the whole front of human decency". The Archbishop of Canterbury called for the rejection of "wartime morality", and for people to return to living christian lives.

1946 - 1957

1948 Publication of Alfred Kinsey's Sexual Behaviour in the Human Male, stating that 37% of American men had had at least one homosexual experience to the point of orgasm since adolescence.
1951 Defection to Moscow of the two British spies Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean, both homosexual. The American security agencies (still in the McCarthy purges) pressure the British to weed out known or suspected homosexuals from government, to prevent further security lapses. This includes liaison between the FBI and Scotland Yard, where the new Commissioner of Police, Sir John Nott-Bower, instituted full-scale persecution.
1952 Alan Turing, O.B.E., the mathematician who cracked the Enigma codes during the Second World War, was sentenced to hormone therapy. He grew breasts as a result of the enforced treatment, and committed suicide in 1954 as a result.
1952 Gordon Westwood publishes Society and the Homosexual, deprecating the law.
1952 Annual figure for 'indecency between males' offences is 1686. [For the period 1935-39, the total was just 299 cases.]
January 1953 William Field MP charged with persistently importuning men for an immoral purpose in Piccadilly Circus. Although protesting his innocence, he is found guilty on one of two counts, and fined £ 15, with 20 guineas costs.
1953 Publication of Alfred Kinsey's Sexual Behaviour in the Human Female, reporting that 28% of American women had erotic feelings towards other women.
October 1953 Lord Montagu of Beaulieu and film director Kenneth Hume charged with 'serious offences' involving two boy scouts.
October 1953 The actor Sir John Gielgud pleads guilty to persistently importuning for an immoral purpose in a public lavatory, and is fined £ 10.
3 December 1953 In the House of Commons, Desmond Donnelly (Lab.) and Sir Robert Boothby (Cons.) call on the Government to set up a Royal Commission to investigate the law relating to homosexual offences.
9 January 1954 Lord Montagu arrested on new charges of improper behaviour with two young airmen.
March 1954 High-profile trial of Lord Montagu of Beaulieu, with his cousin Michael Pitt-Rivers and the Daily Mail diplomatic correspondent Peter Wildeblood, who were all imprisoned for inciting two R.A.F. men to commit "unnatural offences": despite several disturbing incidents where the police had not followed the correct procedures, and may have tampered with evidence.

The case was followed by calls for law reform: supported by a report from the Church of England's Moral Welfare Council, which recommended an equal age of consent.

April 1954 Analysis in the medical journal The Practitioner of "over 100 cases of castration of sexual perversion and homosexuality ... [noted] gratifying results in all but one case".
28 April 1958 The Home Secretary agrees to an enquiry, and appoints a Committee under Sir John Wolfenden .
1954 Annual figure for 'indecency between males' offences climbs to 2034.
November 1955 Peter Wildeblood (jailed March 1954 in the Montagu case) publishes his autobiography, explaining the horror of his arrest and imprisonment, and his emergence from the ordeal as a stronger and more honest person who was not ashamed to announce to the world "I am homosexual". He later gives evidence to the Wolfenden Committee: "The right which I claim for myself, and for all those like me, is the right to choose the person whom I love".
1955 Annual figure for 'indecency between males' offences peaks at 2322, where 1065 men were gaoled.
4 September 1957 Publication of the Wolfenden Report on Homosexual Offences and Prostitution, recommending that homosexual behaviour in private between consenting adults, (i.e. over 21), should be decriminalised; but that curbs on prostitution should be tightened.
October 1957 The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Fisher, supports the Wolfenden Report: "There is a sacred realm of privacy ... into which the law, generally speaking, must not intrude. This is a principle of the utmost importance for the preservation of human freedom, self-respect, and responsibility". The recommendations are also supported by the British Medical Association, the Howard League for Penal Reform, and the National Association of Probation Officers.

1958 - 1967

May 1958 A. E. Dyson and Rev. Hallidie-Smith found the Homosexual Law Reform Society, to persuade Parliament of the strength of support for law reform by public figures, since the Government claimed that the Wolfenden recommendations were "in advance of public opinion". To raise funds for the HLRS, the Albany Trust was then established, under Anthony Grey.
June 1958 The "Daily Telegraph", "Observer", and "Daily Mirror" call for an end to the Home Secretary's shameful prevarication in implementing the Wolfenden recommendations.
November 1958 Ian Harvey MP, Joint Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Foreign Office, tenders his resignation to the Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan, after being charged with an act of gross indecency with a Coldstream guardsman in St. James's Park. At Bow Street Magistrates' Court he pleads guilty, and is fined £ 5 for breaking park regulations.
November 1958 The Lord Chamberlain's ban on plays with homosexual themes is lifted, allowing representation in theatre and cinema.
1961 Dirk Bogarde appears in the film Victim as a barrister being blackmailed for his homosexuality.
Autumn 1962 Trial at the Old Bailey and subsequent imprisonment of William Vassall for selling secrets to the Russians, after the KGB had photographed him with another man and blackmailed him. This highlights the danger of blackmail resulting from the 1885 law, and leads to further calls for reform.
1963 Publication of Towards a Quaker View of Sex, stating that homosexual relations were not necessarily any less valid than heterosexual ones.
1963 Publication of Queer People under the pseudonym Douglas Plummer. "I sometimes think we homosexuals are absurdly tolerant. The way some newspapers attack us would not be accepted by any other group of a million people. ... We are completely disorganised, and rather pathetically fail to speak with one voice, being afraid of public censure. Yet a million or more voices should not be negligible, if raised in defence of a way of life which the world is powerless to alter."
7 October 1964 The North Western Homosexual Law reform Society holds its inaugural meeting in Manchester, after a letter by Labour councillor Allan Horsfall to the Bolton Evening News denouncing the arrest of eight men for consenting behaviour in private.
12 May 1965 Lord Arran pleads with the House of Lords to end the legal persecution of homosexual men. A vote is not possible: but 12 of the 22 speakers in the debate --including the Archbishops of Canterbury and York-- support the principle.
4 July 1967 After an all-night sitting, the Sexual Offence Bill passes its Third Reading in the Commons by 101 votes to 16.
27 July 1967 Sexual Offences Act received Royal Assent, partially decriminalising sex between men: two men over 21 'in private', (i.e. no one else in the same house), neither of them in the Armed Forces or the Merchant Navy. This applied only to England and Wales.

1968 - 1973

1969 Formation of the Scottish Minorities Group, (SMG), to campaign for the decriminalisation of gay sex in Scotland.
27-29 June 1969 A police raid at the Stonewall Bar, New York, results in three days of riots when queers fight back. A line of angry drag queens danced towards police, chanting: "We are the Stonewall girls, we wear our hair in curls, we have no underwear, we show our pubic hair." The police fled.
4 July 1969 Gay Liberation Front, (GLF), founded in New York.
13 October 1970 First meeting of London GLF, at the London School of Economics.
20-21 November 1970 Protests at sexist Miss World contest, including fire-bombing a BBC van covering the event at the Royal Albert Hall.
27 November 1970 Demonstration at Highbury Fields, London, for the right for gay men to express affection in public.
May 1971 Festival of Light formed by two ex-missionaries, to counter moral pollution.
11 June 1971 Members of the Red Lesbian Brigade spray slogans inside the Stock Exchange.
24 June 1971 GLF spray paint psychiatrists' premises in Harley Street.
9 September 1971 GLF zap Festival of Light rally in Westminster Central Hall, with gay male 'nuns', mice, and Ku Klux Klan members.
13 November 1971 GLF lay triangle of pink carnations at London's Cenotaph, in memory of the lesbians and gays who died during the wars.
31 January 1972 National Council for Civil Liberties, (NCCL), begins survey on police harassment of gays.
9 February 1972 Women walk out of GLF meeting, fed up with male chauvinism.
21 March 1972 GLF occupy Time Out office, demanding publication of gay advertisements.
19 June 1972 First issue of the fortnightly newspaper Gay News is published.
1 July 1972 Carnival Parade from Trafalgar Square to Hyde Park, with over 1000 participants.
2 November 1972 Talk by Prof. Hans Eysenck disrupted by Peter Tatchell, when Eysenck claimed that electric shock 'therapy' was an effective treatment for homosexuality.
12 November 1972 CHE lay wreath at the Cenotaph.
30 June 1973 Gay Pride Rally in Hyde Park.
1974 Netherlands: the ban on gays serving in the armed forces is lifted.
June 1976 Publication in Gay News of a poem, The Love that Dares to Speak its Name, by Prof. James Kirkup.
1977 Mary Whitehouse brings a private prosecution against Gay News for blasphemous libel.
1979/80 As a result of campaigning by the SMG, the Criminal Justice Act brings Scots law on gay sex into line with English law, decriminalising sex between two men in private.
1982 Jeff Dudgeon obtains victory against the Government at the European Court of XXX, since the laws in Northern Ireland deny his right to private life.
  London, Manchester: Unprecedented marches in protest against Clause 2x (as it was renumbered several times) of the Local Government Bill.
24 May 1988 The Local Government Act, containing Section 28, becomes law.

David Wilshire, the Tory MP who originally introduced the Clause, later says: "I wanted to stop local government wasting public money. Nowhere will you find me expressing an opinion about homosexuality or homosexuals. ... I do, however, defend your right to stand on the pavement and shout to the rooftops that homosexuality is a marvellous thing, and why don't you try it?"

May 1990 Formation of OutRage!, following several murders of gay men, unresolved by the police.
February 1994 Age of consent for sex between two men is reduced from 21 to 18. An amendment to equalise it at 16 is defeated in the Commons.
11 June 1996 John Major complains that out of more than 2000 National Lottery awards, 5 went to lesbian and gay groups.
17 February 1998 Lisa Grant lost her appeal at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg for equal rights at work, (despite a provisional ruling by the Advocate General in her favour a few months earlier). (She was legally represented by Cherie Booth, QC, wife of Tony Blair.) Summary; Full judgement.
20 February 1998 The Bolton 7, convicted of consenting gay sex in the privacy of their own homes, walked free from court. The five younger defendants received probation and community service orders; whilst Norman Williams and Terry Connell received suspended prison sentences. Connell was also ordered to pay £ 500 towards the cost of the prosecution, (estimated at around half a million pounds).
4 April 1998 Inaugural meeting of the Equality Alliance, formed in the wake of the Lisa Grant and Bolton 7 cases in February.
June + July 1998 The Commons vote to equalise the age of consent for sex between two men at 16: but this is defeated in the Lords. Reports in Hansard of statements by the Home Secretary cast doubt upon Government committment to removing discrimination.
July 1998 Anglican bishops attending the decennial Lambeth Conference in Canterbury pass a resolution on Human Sexuality "rejecting homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture".
9 August 1998 YouthSpeak promote an equal age of consent by projecting a pink laser "16" onto the tower of Big Ben at Westminster.
22 December 1998 New Zealand: Immigration Minister Hon Tuariki Delamere announces that the Government has decided to end discrimination against same-sex de facto couples who seek to immigrate to New Zealand. The changes will take effect on March 29, 1999.
13 June 1999 The Times reports that Duke of Edinburgh and Lord Camoys will bar gay guests at Buckingham Palace from bringing their partners, reversing the easing of restrictions led by the Prince of Wales.
XXX 1999 Sex Discrimination (Gender Reassignment) Regulations
Dec. 2000 Age of consent for gay male sex lowered to 16.
XXX 2001 yyy
XXX 2002 yyy
Nov. 2003 Gender Recognition Bill introduced in the House of Lords.
1 Dec. 2003 Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations come into force.
1 May 2004 The Sexual Offences Act 2003 comes into effect, scrapping offences of buggery and gross indecency, extending rape to include forced oral, anal and vaginal intercourse, and creating a new offence of "assault by penetration" - the insertion of anything other than a penis.


URL: http://www.RoseCottage.me.uk/EqualityAlliance-archives/Chronology.html
Last modified: 26-September-2004