2017 marked the 50th anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act 1967.
It was the first UK law to decriminalise men having sex with men. It applied in England and Wales. It had a different age of consent than for men who have sex with women. And there was other restrictions around where it could happen.
The partial decriminalisation only applying to two home nations is an example of how legal progress for LGBTQ people in the UK has often been in steps not sweeping changes, in part due to our political structure across four nations.
Same-sex marriage was legalised in England and Wales, and then Scotland in 2014. It was finally legalised in Northern Ireland in January this year, the last place in the British Isles to do so. Although many places of worship and religious denominations do conduct same-sex weddings, they are the exception rather than the norm.
Even with same-sex marriage legal across Britain, more than a third of LGBT people don’t feel comfortable holding their partner’s hand in public. Changing laws alone doesn’t bring societal equality.
In 2018 the government opened a consultation to reform the Gender Recognition Act 2004, which affects England and Wales. A similar consultation took place in Scotland. However there’s been delays to publishing the consultation.
This law needs updating to make it easier for trans people to have their identity legally recognised. Non-binary trans identities currently have no legal recognition in the UK.
Trans people have been especially attacked in the media and public life in the last few years. Two in five trans people (41 per cent) have experienced a hate crime or incident because of their gender identity in the last 12 months.