ritical Overview: The Pride Parade and the Fight for LGBTQ+ Rights
The Pride Parade scheduled to take place in London on July 6, is part of the global movement fighting for equal rights for the LGBTQ+ community worldwide. The term LGBTQ+ refers to individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and others of diverse identities. The celebration of diversity in the LGBTQ+ community is an opportunity to create awareness about the fight for equal rights.
Recently, Pride has been celebrated across the world. In the UK, the 50-year anniversary since the decriminalisation of homosexuality in England and Wales was marked with significant Pride celebrations two years ago. The decriminalisation of homosexuality signified the end of the criminalisation of gay relationships between men in England and Wales. The law changed in Northern Ireland and Scotland later, but the laws had never made it illegal for two women to be in a relationship. Nevertheless, despite the significant changes, some parts of the world still criminalise homosexuality, and campaigners continue to strive for global equal rights for the LGBTQ+ community.
What Was Life Like for Gay People?
For centuries, LGBTQ+ individuals have struggled for acceptance and equal treatment. They have suffered oppression and, in some instances, even been murdered because of their sexual preferences. Homosexuality was previously considered an illness, and many doctors and psychiatrists believed that it could be “cured.” To avoid violence, harassment, and discrimination, members of the LGBTQ+ community had to hide their identities from their families, friends, colleagues, and the public.
Previously, gay people were denied some of the same rights as those who were not gay. For example, they could not legally marry or adopt children. Homosexuality was considered a criminal offense in the UK until 1967, and if a gay or bisexual man broke the law regarding homosexuality, he faced a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
In the 1950s, a group was formed to investigate the treatment of gay men under the law. They prepared a report for the government recommending that the law be amended. Although the government initially refused to make any changes, more people began campaigning for the rights of the LGBTQ+ community. In 1967, the law was eventually amended, allowing two men to be in a relationship without fear of arrest. However, other laws were still in place, which meant that members of the LGBTQ+ community did not have the same rights as non-LGBTQ+ individuals. Moreover, more gay men were arrested after 1967 for offenses that would not have led to arrest if their partners were women.
What Has Happened Since?
The 1967 amendment to the law marked the start of several changes designed to improve the rights of the LGBTQ+ community. In 1969, the Stonewall riots in New York initiated a series of demonstrations in support of gay rights in the US. The first Pride festival was held in London on 1 July 1972, and more than two thousand people took part. Now, over a million people celebrate the event in the UK, and Pride celebrations take place globally. In 1988, a law known as Section 28 was introduced, prohibiting teachers from promoting gay relationships in schools. This was overturned in 2003. Further changes to the law in 2000, 2002, and 2003 enabled gay and bisexual people to serve in the armed forces, adopt children, and overturn the ban on promoting homosexuality in schools. Civil partnerships for gay people commenced in 2004, affording them similar rights to those of married couples, although some people thought it was insufficient and called for same-sex marriage. In 2008, it became illegal to encourage homophobic hatred, although there were over 7,000 reported hate crimes.