The confrontations between police and demonstrators at the Stonewall Inn in New York City the weekend of June 27-29, 1969 mark the beginning of the modern glbtq movement for equal rights.
Formed soon after the Stonewall Riots of 1969, the short-lived but influential Gay Liberation Front brought a new militancy to the movement that became known as gay liberation.
The sexual revolution of post-World War II America changed sexual and gender roles profoundly.
"Leather" is a blanket term for a large array of sexual preferences, identities, relationship structures, and social organizations loosely tied together by the thread of what is conventionally understood as sadomasochistic sex.
Although best known for her crusade for women's suffrage, Susan B. Anthony spoke out on a range of feminist issues.
With reports from hundreds of sub-Saharan African locales of male-male sexual relations and from about fifty of female-female sexual relations, it is clear that same-sex sexual relations existed in traditional African societies, though varying in forms and in the degree of public acceptance
Androgyny, a psychological blending of gender traits, has long been embraced by strong women, soft men, members of queer communities, and others who do not easily fit into traditionally defined gender categories.
A cultural crossroads between Asia and Europe, Russia has a long, rich, and often violent heritage of varied influences and stark confrontations in regard to its patterns of same-sex love.
Lord Alli of Norbury. Photo by Theo Grzegorczyk (CC BY-SA 3.0).
On June 3, 2013, U.K.'s House of Lords began debate on the marriage equality bill. In advance of the debate, proponents of the legislation warned the Lords that rejecting the bill will create a constitutional crisis that may lead to the abolition of the House itself. It would be unprecedented for the Lords to reject a bill that had been overwhelmingly approved by the House of Commons.
The last time the House of Lords rejected a bill approved by the Commons also involved gay rights, though that bill had not been passed by a two-to-one margin as the marriage equality legislation was. In 1999, the efforts of Tony Blair's Labour government to equalize the age of consent was rejected by the Lords. In exasperation, Prime Minister Blair evoked the Parliament Act of 1949 to override the Lords, and in 2001 the equal age of consent became legal despite its rejection by the upper house. Prime Minister Cameron has indicated that he will also use the Parliament Act of 1949 to override the House of Lords should it reject the marriage equality bill.
Invocation of the Parliament Act of 1949 would ensure passage of the marriage equality legislation but it would delay it by two years. It would also likely lead to moves to restrict the power of the Lords even more or to abolish the House entirely.
Interestingly, one of the chief sponsors of the marriage equality bill in the House of Lords is Lord Alli of Norbury, a Labour Life Peer who has the distinction of being one of the few openly gay Muslim politicians in the world. He entered the House of Lords in 1999, when he was 34 years old, and immediately became embroiled in the debate over the equal age of consent.
In a dramatic speech in that debate, he told the Lords "I am openly gay. I am 34. I was gay when I was 24, when I was 21, when I was 18, and even when I was 16. I have never been confused about my sexuality. I have [only ever] been confused about the way I am treated as a result of it." Describing how he had been forced to keep his relationships secret and had to endure the indignity of being called "sick," "abnormal," and "unnatural" simply for being gay, he said that equal age of consent was not just a moral right but also a moral imperative.
In an interview in The Independent, Lord Alli, a wealthy media mogul, expressed guarded optimism that the marriage equality bill will pass, noting that since 1999, the Lords have not rejected an equal rights bill. He did note, however, that the vote may be very close.
One of the most surprising speeches given in the House of Lords on the first day of debate was that by Conservative Lord Fowler, who served as Health Minister in Margaret Thatcher's homophobic government. Lord Fowler told the Lords that it would be "political suicide" for them to vote against the marriage equality legislation.
After labelling many of the arguments against marriage equality as nonsense, Lord Fowler said, "I accept and recognize that this is an appointed House, and it is an enormous privilege to be appointed to it. However, with that privilege come limitations on what we can do. Of course we can question legislation and seek to improve it. However, in my view, we cannot defeat at second reading the declared will of the House of Commons when, on a free vote, it has voted by over two to one to pass this legislation."
He went on to speak strongly in favor of the bill itself, declaring that "Parliament should value people equally in the law and enabling same-sex marriage removes a current inequity." He also said that passing the legislation would send a strong message around the world in support of gay rights, including to countries in Africa whose anti-gay laws were first instituted during British rule.
He concluded that equal rights is "a fundamental moral issue."
Video of the June 3, 2013 debate in the House of Lords is not yet available. However, in the video below, from 2009, Lord Alli speaks in favor of the omnibus equality bill that instituted broad protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
On June 3, 2013, as the House of Lords debated the marriage equality bill, several hundred demonstrators gathered in front of the Parliament building. The demonstrators were addressed by some members of the House of Lords and serenaded by the London Gay Men's Chorus. Reportedly, the singing could be heard within the chamber in which the Lords debated.