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LGBT History - Some Choice Moments!

Earlier | 1960s | 1970s | 1980s | 1990s | Recent

Earlier history and more details to follow...


In the House of Lords, the Conservative Lord Arran proposed the decriminalisation of male homosexual acts, but failed.

Winning second place in the ballot for Private Member's Bills, Conservative MP and known homosexual Humphry Berkeley introduced a bill to legalise male homosexual relations along the lines of the Wolfenden Report. His Bill was given a second reading by 164 to 107 on 11 February 1966, but timed out when Parliament was dissolved soon after. Unexpectedly, Berkeley lost his seat in the 1966 general election, and he ascribed his defeat to the unpopularity of his bill on homosexuality. He joined the Labour Party in the 1970s over opposition to the Vietnam War and the SDP in the 1980s.


The Harry Benjamin Scale for Trans was described.


A change in British law allowed Charing Cross Hospital to begin performing SRS, under Dr. Phillip.

The Sexual Offences Bill was put before parliament in order to implement some of the Wolfenden Committee's recommendations. Lord Arran, a sponsor of the Bill, made the following remarks at the third reading in the Lords:
“Because of the Bill now to be enacted, perhaps a million human beings will be able to live in greater peace. I find this an awesome and marvellous thing. The late Oscar Wilde, on his release from Reading Gaol, wrote to a friend:” “Yes, we shall win in the end; but the road will be long and red with monstrous martyrdoms.” “My Lords, Mr. Wilde was right: the road has been long and the martyrdoms many, monstrous and bloody. Today, please God! sees the end of that road. I ask one thing and I ask it earnestly. I ask those who have, as it were, been in bondage and for whom the prison doors are now open to show their thanks by comporting themselves quietly and with dignity. This is no occasion for jubilation; certainly not for celebration. Any form of ostentatious behaviour; now or in the future any form of public flaunting, would be utterly distasteful and would, I believe, make the sponsors of the Bill regret that they have done what they have done. Homosexuals must continue to remember that while there may be nothing bad in being a homosexual, there is certainly nothing good. Lest the opponents of the Bill think that a new freedom, a new privileged class, has been created, let me remind them that no amount of legislation will prevent homosexuals from being the subject of dislike and derision, or at best of pity. We shall always, I fear, resent the odd man out. That is their burden for all time, and they must shoulder it like men—for men they are.”, Lord Arran
The Bill set the age limit at 21 (heterosexual activity was 16) and defined “in private” so rigorously as to still make homosexual activity a risky endeavour. The general prohibitions on buggery and indecency between men, were maintained, but a limited decriminalisation of homosexual acts was enacted where three conditions were fulfilled. Namely, that the act had to be consensual, take place in private and involve only people 21 or over. "In private" limited participation to two people and was interpreted strictly by the courts, which took it to exclude acts taking place, for example, in a hotel room, and even in private homes if a third person was present even if they would be most likely in a different room.

The 1967 Act extended only to England and Wales, and not to Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man, where all homosexual behaviour remained illegal. Organisations such as the Campaign for Homosexual Equality and the Gay Liberation Front therefore continued to campaign for the goal of full equality.


Germany decriminalized the SRS procedure.

The Erickson Educational Foundation began sponsoring a series of International Symposia on Gender Identity. The first was held in London, then Denmark - 1971, Yugoslavia - 1973, Stanford - 1975, Norfolk - 1977, and finally in San Diego - 1979.

The Stonewall Riot in New York City. Early on the morning of June 28, 1969, the clientele of a gay bar, the Stonewall Inn, rioted after the club was raided by the police. The riot was followed by several days of demonstrations. It was this brave resistance to police harassment that kick-started the gay pride movement in the United States. The police raid was predicated on the NYC edict that forbade the wearing of more than 3 items of opposite gendered clothing.

The purple handprint became a symbol of gay liberation in 1969, following a San Francisco newspaper dumping purple ink on members of the Gay Liberation Front protesting their offices.


The first Gay Liberation Day March is held in New York City; The first LGBT Pride Parade is held in Los Angeles; The first "Gay-in" held in San Francisco.


Dr. Léon Pérel performs the first sex reassignment at the Saint-Francois hospital in Paris.


The AMA first officially sanctions SRS as the treatment for transsexualism.

Back in the early 19th Century the term she-male had been used colloquially in the US, meaning little more than "a female". "Davy Crockett's hand would be sure to shake if his iron was pointed within a hundred miles of a shemale", (Treasury of American Folklore). By 1972 it had come to be used (disparagingly) for "masculine lesbian." The sense of "transsexual male" seems to date from c.1984.

Sweden becomes first country in the world to allow transsexuals to legally change their sex, and provides free hormone therapy.


The terms "Gender Dysphoria" and "Gender Identity Disorder" were not used until the 1970s when Laub and Fisk published several works on transsexualism using these terms. (Fisk, N. (1973). 'Gender dysphoria syndrome. (The how, what, and why of a disease)' in D. Laub & P. Gandy (Eds.), Proceedings of the second interdisciplinary symposium on gender dysphoria syndrome (pp.7–14). Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press. and Laub, D. R., & Fisk, N. (1974). 'A rehabilitation program for gender dysphoria syndrome by surgical sex change', Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, 53, pp.388-403.)

The American Psychiatric Association removes homosexuality from its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-II), based largely on the research and advocacy of Evelyn Hooker.


Kathy Kozachenko becomes the first openly gay American elected to public office when she wins a seat on the Ann Arbor, Michigan city council; In New York City Dr. Fritz Klein founds the Bisexual Forum, the first support group for Bisexuals.


Harvey Milk is elected city-county supervisor in San Francisco, becoming the third out American elected to public office after two lesbian women in ‘74/75.


Designed by San Francisco artist Gilbert Baker, the Rainbow flag (originally 8 colours) is first used as a symbol of the gay community.


In the late 1970s the SRS climate began to change. The first signs were seen at Johns Hopkins, where the chairman of the Psychiatry department, Dr. Joel Elkes, was replaced by Dr. Paul McHugh. McHugh saw SRS as unnecessary mutilation, and set out to kill the program. He assigned Dr. John Meyer to do a long-term follow-up study of 50 transsexuals who underwent SRS at Johns Hopkins. Meyer's report, issued in 1977, claimed that SRS confers no objective advantage in terms of social rehabilitation for transsexuals. Although the paper was widely criticized as flawed, it led to the October 1979 closing of the Johns Hopkins Gender Identity Clinic.

Marked The publication of Janice Raymond's book The Transsexual Empire: The Making of the She-Male, wherein she attacked transsexuals from a feminist angle. In short, she criticized TSs for reenforcing gender roles, and complained that men (the TSs) were only transitioning to dominate and further oppress "true" women.

The ISGE reformed itself as the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association. To provide its members with a consistent standard for treatment of transgender issues, the HBIGDA adopted a group of guidelines called The (HB) Standards of Care.

The Home Office Policy Advisory Committee's Working Party report, Age of Consent in Relation to Sexual Offences, recommended that the age of consent for homosexual activities should be reduced to 18. No such legislation was enacted as a result. However, homosexual activities were legalised in Scotland on the same basis as in the 1967 Act, by section 80 of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 1980, which came into force on 1 February 1981. An similar amendment was also made in Northern Ireland, following the determination of a case by the European Court of Human Rights (see Dudgeon v. United Kingdom); this came into force on 8 December 1982.


The American Psychiatric Association listed transsexualism as an official disorder in the DSM-III. The diagnosis was changed to "gender identity disorder" in the DSM-IV.


Chris Smith, newly elected to the UK parliament declares: "My name is Chris Smith. I'm the Labour MP for Islington South and Finsbury, and I'm gay", making him the first openly out homosexual politician in parliament.


Bisexual actor Rock Hudson died of AIDS. He was the first major public figure known to have died from an AIDS-related illness

France prohibits discrimination based on lifestyle (moeurs) in employment and services.


Sweden is the first country to pass laws protecting homosexual regarding social services, taxes, and inheritances. The anti-gay Section 28 passes in England and Wales; Scotland enacts almost identical legislation.


Denmark is the first country in the world to enact registered partnership laws (like a civil union) for same-sex-couples.


The red ribbon is first used as a symbol of the campaign raising the awareness of HIV/AIDS.


Homosexuality is no longer an illness: The World Health Organization


Ban on gays serving openly in the military: USA (see Don't ask, don't tell, repealed 2010/11)


Homosexuality is no longer an illness: American Medial Association

...more to follow

*LGBT is an inclusive term representing Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans(gender).
It also includes other groups relating to sexual orientation or gender identity including Intersex, Queer and more.