LGBT History in The United Kingdom - 1990s


  • 1990 In July, following the murders in a short space of time, of Christopher Schliach, Henry Bright, William Dalziel and Michael Boothe, hundreds of lesbians and gay men marched from the park where Boothe had been killed to Ealing town hall and held a candlelit vigil. The demonstration led to the formation of OutRage, who called for the police to start protecting gay men instead of arresting them. In September, lesbian and gay police officers established the Lesbian and Gay Police Association (Lagpa/GPA). The first gay pride event is held in Manchester. Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson, a semi-autobiographical screenplay about her lesbian life was shown on BBC television. Justin Fashanu became the first professional footballer to come out in the press (he subsequently committed suicide). Northern Ireland held their first Pride Parade. UK Crown Dependency of Jersey decriminalised homosexuality. Queen singer Freddie Mercury announced that he had AIDS, the following day, he died.
  • 1991 Gay Activist, Derek Jarman makes the Christopher Marlowe play Edward II from the early 1590s into a film which used modern costumes and made overt reference to the gay rights movement and the Stonewall riots.
  • 1992 UK Crown Dependency of Isle of Man repealed sodomy laws (homosexuality was still illegal until 1994). The first Pride Festival was held in Brighton. Europride was inaugurated in London and was attended by estimated crowds of over 100,000.
  • 1993 The radio DJ and comedian Kenny Everett and singer with the group Frankie goes to Hollywood, Holly Johnson, announced that they were HIV positive. Serial killer Colin Ireland was convicted of killing five gay men, who he picked up in the Coleherne leather bar. He was sentenced to life and died in 2012.
  • 1994 The Conservative Member of Parliament Edwina Currie introduced an amendment to lower the age of consent for homosexual acts, from 21 to 16 in line with that for heterosexual acts. The vote was defeated and the gay male age of consent is set at 18. The Lesbian age of consent was not set. UK Crown Dependency of Isle of Man decriminalised homosexuality. Charity Save the Children dropped lesbian Sandi Toksvig as compere of its 75th-anniversary celebrations after she came out, but following a direct action protest by the Lesbian Avengers, Save the Children apologised. British filmmaker Derek Jarman died of AIDS.
  • 1996 A breakthrough is made in the area of AIDS treatment; Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART) is found to significantly delay the onset of AIDS in people living with HIV. The NHS makes the treatment available in the UK. HAART has a dramatic effect and many bed ridden AIDS patients return to work. The European Court of Human Rights heard Morris v. The United Kingdom and Sutherland v. the United Kingdom, cases brought by Chris Morris and Euan Sutherland challenging the homosexual inequality in divided ages of consent. The government stated its intention to legislate to negate the court cases, which were put on hold.
  • 1997 Angela Eagle, Labour MP for Wallasey, becomes the first MP to come out voluntarily as a lesbian. Gay partners were given equal immigration rights.
  • 1998 The Bolton 7, a group of gay and bisexual men were convicted at Bolton Crown Court of the offences of gross indecency under the Sexual Offences Act 1956 and of age of consent offences under the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994. Although gay sex was partially decriminalised by the Sexual Offences Act 1967, they were all convicted under section 13 of the 1956 Act because more than two men had sex together, which was still illegal. Baron Waheed Alli, Labour life peer becomes the first openly-gay member of the House of Lords and one of a few openly gay Muslims. The Labour party introduced an amendment to Crime and Disorder Bill to set the age of consent at 16 for homosexual men. The amendment was then removed by the House of Lords.
  • 1999 In May, the Admiral Duncan, a gay pub in Soho was bombed by former British National Party member David Copeland, killing three people and wounding at least 70. Queer Youth Alliance was formed; The equal age of consent to the Crime and Disorder Bill proposed by the Labour government was blocked again in the House of Lords after a campaign headed by Conservative Party (UK) MP Baroness Young. Stephen Twigg became the first openly-gay politician to be elected to the House of Commons. Michael Cashman became the first openly-gay UK member elected to the European Parliament. The British Museum acquired the Warren Cup for £1.8 million to prevent its going abroad which, at that time, the most expensive single item ever acquired by The British Museum. The cup depicts homosexual acts between Ancient Greek and Roman men and boys.

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