glbtq: an encyclopedia of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender & queer culture
social sciences
special features
about glbtq


   member name
   Forgot Your Password?  
Not a Member Yet?  

  Advertising Opportunities
  Permissions & Licensing
  Terms of Service
  Privacy Policy





social sciences

Alpha Index:  A-B  C-F  G-K  L-Q  R-S  T-Z

Subjects:  A-E  F-L  M-Z

United Kingdom II: 1900 to the Present  
page: 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  

Perhaps the Blair government's most significant piece of gay rights legislation is the Civil Partnership Act 2004, which came into force in December 2005. The Act provided same-sex partners with virtually all of the rights of married heterosexual couples, including automatic legal recognition as next of kin, inheritance, and pension rights.

The most significant differences between civil partnerships and marriages are religious. Since the United Kingdom's official state church does not approve of same-sex marriage, the government made civil partnership an entirely secular process and even restricted the places where civil partnerships could be executed to non-religious venues. In addition, non-consummation and adultery are grounds for ending a marriage but not for ending a civil partnership.

Sponsor Message.

At the time of the passage of the Act, the government estimated that 22,000 couples would take advantage of the law by 2010. However, over 15,500 couples had established civil partnerships by December 5, 2006.

While the civil partnerships were regarded positively by most gay men and lesbians, some queer activists, including Peter Tatchell, emphasized that separate legal classifications (civil partnership for same-sex couples and marriage for heterosexual couples) are inherently unequal.

The British government recognizes same-sex marriages, registered partnerships, civil unions, and domestic partnerships from other countries, including Canada, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, South Africa, and the states of Massachusetts, California, Vermont, Connecticut, and New Jersey, among others, as legally equivalent to civil partnerships. A High Court decision of July 31, 2006 specifically ordered that same-sex marriages performed in other nations be classified as civil partnerships rather than recognized as marriages.

The Gender Recognition Act 2004 gave individuals legal recognition and rights under the law. However, many advocates for transgender rights believe that these rights are not vigorously enforced.

Taking effect in 2007, Sexual Orientation Regulations are intended to insure equal treatment of gay men, lesbians, and bisexuals and to outlaw discrimination against them in employment and accommodations. Although the provisions of the Sexual Orientation Regulations are uniform throughout the United Kingdom, these were developed through separate processes for England and Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. Thus far, the government has resisted efforts by the Catholic Church and other religious organizations to secure exemptions from the Regulations throughout the United Kingdom.

Marriage Equality

By 2014, when marriage equality became a reality in England, Wales, and Scotland, glbtq citizens had achieved equal rights under the law in all parts of the United Kingdom except Northern Ireland.

The battle for marriage equality received impetus from the 2010 general election, when Tory Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said that a Conservative government would be happy to "consider the case" for ending the ban on same-sex marriage. On May 4 2010 the party published a "Contract for Equalities," which included the promise to consider possible marriage equality legislation.

During the campaign Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg emphasized unambiguously that his party supported marriage equality.

Hence, after Conservative Leader David Cameron, who was intent on redefining his party as "modern" and to erase its history of homophobia, turned to Clegg to form a coalition government, it was no surprise when, in September 2011, the government announced that it would launch a consultation on how to implement equal civil marriage for same-sex couples with the intention of any legislative changes being made before the next general election.

In December 2012, the Minister for Women and Equalities, Secretary of State Maria Miller announced that the government planned to bring forward same-sex marriage legislation for England and Wales in early 2013 and that the legislation would include provisions to allow religious organizations to "opt into" performing same-sex marriages if they wish, but that there would be a "quadruple lock" of measures to prevent the compulsion of religious organizations to marry same-sex couples.

After a frequently rancorous debate in the House of Commons, the legislation was passed on its second reading by a vote of 400 to 175. On May 21, 2013, it passed its final reading in the Commons by a 366-161 vote. Although more Conservative MPs voted against the legislation than voted for it, the measure received overwhelming support from the Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs.

After surviving several "wrecking amendments" in the House of Lords, the marriage equality bill was overwhelmingly approved in the Lords on July 15, 2013. It was granted Royal Assent on July 17, 2013.

Although the new law was supported by the leaders of all three major parties, the passage of the marriage equality law was a personal triumph of Prime Minister David Cameron, who bucked the history of the Conservative Party to fulfill promises he made to the glbtq community.

In an op-ed he published in the (London) Evening Standard on July 18. 2013 entitled "Commitment, Responsibility, and Family," the Prime Minister wrote, "I am proud that we have made same-sex marriage happen. I am delighted that the love two people have for each other--and the commitment they want to make--can now be recognised as equal."

He declared, "I have backed this reform because I believe in commitment, responsibility and family. I don't want to see people's love divided by law."

Because the new law affected other laws, regulations had to be promulgated before the Act could be implemented. The Same-Sex Marriage Act of 2013 officially went into effect on March 13, 2014, and the first new weddings took place soon after midnight on March 29.

The progress toward marriage equality in Scotland also had a surprisingly smooth passage. After an extensive consultation, Scotland's marriage equality legislation was approved by overwhelming votes. On February 4, 2014, after a debate of more than three hours in which a number of "wrecking" amendments were decisively rejected, Scotland's Parliament voted in favor of the marriage equality bill by a margin of 105 to 18.

The Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act came into force on December 16, 2014. On that date couples in Scottish civil partnership could covert their partnerships into marriages. Because Scotland enforces a 15-day notice for weddings, new same-sex marriages were first performed on December 31, 2014.

Much still needs to be done to achieve genuine equality for glbtq people in Great Britain. Nevertheless, there has been a truly remarkable advance in the legal and social status of glbtq people in the United Kingdom, which culminated in the arrival of marriage equality in England and Wales and Scotland in 2014.

Richard G. Mann

  <previous page   page: 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16    

Contact Us
Join the Discussion
Related Entries
More Entries by this contributor
A Bibliography on this Topic

Citation Information
More Entries about Social Sciences

   Related Entries
social sciences >> Overview:  Aversion Therapy

A form of behavior modification that employs unpleasant and sometimes painful stimuli, aversion therapy was one of the more popular treatments for homosexuality and cross-dressing in the 1950s and 1960s.

literature >> Overview:  Bloomsbury

The Bloomsbury circle's open acceptance of erotic license and hostility toward social convention are important elements in the history of homosexuality among the English upper classes in the first half of the twentieth century.

arts >> Overview:  British Television

Until recently, British television embraced lesbians and gays as Them rather than Us, but a more diversified and nuanced approach to all kinds of sexuality is likely to be the case in the future.

social sciences >> Overview:  Brighton

After a period of decline, Brighton, an English seaside resort with a reputation for attracting the artistic and the bohemian, is once again vibrant, thanks in no small part to a flourishing glbtq community.

social sciences >> Overview:  Cambridge Apostles

The Cambridge Apostles, founded in 1820 as a secret society at Cambridge University, is significant for the glbtq cultural legacy because it fostered frank discussions of homosexuality, promoted Platonic love, and helped establish Bloomsbury.

literature >> Overview:  English Literature: Twentieth-Century

Homosexuality, both male and female, has a rich, divergent, and increasingly open expression in the literature of the twentieth century.

social sciences >> Overview:  Lesbian Feminism

The dominant ideology among politicized lesbians during the 1970s and 1980s, Lesbian Feminism was based on the premise that lesbianism and feminism were inextricably linked.

social sciences >> Overview:  London

The capital of the United Kingdom and one of the world's largest and most interesting cities, London has recently become home to an active and diverse glbtq population.

social sciences >> Overview:  Manchester

Home to one of England's largest and liveliest glbtq communities, Manchester has hosted EuroPride and the Pride Games and established a popular Lesbian and Gay Heritage Trail.

social sciences >> Overview:  Military Culture: European

Attitudes toward gay and lesbian personnel in European militaries vary widely, from the acceptance of the Dutch to the laissez-faire policy of the French to the rejection of the Greek and Turkish forces.

literature >> Overview:  Modernism

Despite the widespread homophobia in the Modernist movement, several of its practitioners were homosexual; some of them wrote openly about homosexuality, and the groundwork was laid for the gay liberation movement.

social sciences >> Overview:  Presbyterianism

Attitudes toward homosexuality within Presbyterianism vary greatly from denomination to denomination, though there has recently been movement toward acceptance and inclusion by the largest and most influential church bodies of Presbyterianism.

social sciences >> Overview:  Same-Sex Marriage

Lesbian and gay couples have been fighting for the freedom to marry since the dawn of the modern glbtq struggle for equality; despite some success abroad, progress toward same-sex marriage in the United States has been slow.

social sciences >> Overview:  United Kingdom I: The Middle Ages through the Nineteenth Century

The United Kingdom has a rich and vibrant legacy of queer cultural expression despite a long history of severe legal sanctions against male-male sexual acts and other manifestations of sexual and gender deviance.

literature >> Ackerley, J. R.

A twentieth-century British editor who fostered the careers of a number of important gay writers, J. R. Ackerley also wrote a small but significant body of gay literature that includes memoirs and drama.

arts >> Allan, Maud

Canadian-born Maud Allan achieved fame as the "Salome Dancer," but is best remembered for a libel suit she brought against a newspaper publisher for alleging that she was a lesbian.

literature >> Auden, W. H.

One of the most accomplished poets of the twentieth century, W. H. Auden found that his gayness led him to new insights into the universal impulse to love and enlarged his understanding of all kinds of relationships.

arts >> Boffin, Tessa

British performance artist and photographer Tessa Boffin was the first British lesbian artist to produce work in response to the AIDS epidemic.

arts >> Bogarde, Sir Dirk

Although British film star Dirk Bogarde only tacitly acknowledged his homosexuality during most of his life, he deserves credit as the first actor to create a sympathetic gay character in British film.

literature >> Carpenter, Edward

Edward Carpenter, a champion of both women's and homosexuals' liberation, was one of the great socialist visionaries of England at the turn of the twentieth century.

arts >> Carrington, Dora

English painter, designer, and decorative artist Dora Carrington is best known for her long relationship with gay writer Lytton Strachey, but she had affairs with both men and women, and her work has recently gained recognition.

social sciences >> Cashman, Michael

British politician Michael Cashman gained fame as an actor before becoming a Labour Party member of the European Parliament where he worked diligently on behalf of equal rights.

social sciences >> Clause (or Section) 28

In British law, Section 28 of the Local Government Act, enforced from 1988 until 2003, prohibited the promotion of homosexuality and teaching the acceptability of homosexuality as a "pretended family relationship".

literature >> Crisp, Quentin

"Not merely a self-confessed homosexual, but a self-evident one," actor, writer, performance artist, and wit Quentin Crisp left as his most significant legacy an example of courage.

literature >> Duffy, Maureen

Maureen Duffy has published novels that present both lesbian and gay male characters within a broad social and political panorama.

social sciences >> Ellis, Havelock

Henry Havelock Ellis--British psychologist and writer--was one of the first modern thinkers to challenge Victorian taboos against the frank and objective discussion of sex.

social sciences >> European Commission on Human Rights / European Court of Human Rights

The European Commission on Human Rights was the first international human rights organization to condemn homophobia; the European Court of Human Rights, which replaced the Commission, has also helped enforce glbtq rights.

literature >> Forster, E. M.

One of the finest English novelists of the twentieth century and a tireless defender of humane values, Forster deserves a special place in the gay and lesbian literary heritage.

literature >> Overview:  Gay and Lesbian Bookstores

The network of independent gay and lesbian bookstores that arose in the 1970s served as incubators for the literary and cultural development of the modern gay rights movement in the United States and abroad.

social sciences >> Gay Liberation Front

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.

arts >> Gielgud, Sir John

Sir John Gielgud has long been acknowledged as one of the greatest British actors of the twentieth century.

arts >> Grant, Duncan

One of the major British artists of the twentieth century, Duncan Grant was also the sexual catalyst of the Bloomsbury Circle.

literature >> Hall, Radclyffe

Radclyffe Hall, who lived her lesbianism openly and proudly, is best known for The Well of Loneliness, arguably the most important lesbian novel ever written.

literature >> Isherwood, Christopher

A major Anglo-American novelist and a pioneer in the gay liberation movement, Christopher Isherwood created gay characters whose homosexuality is a simple given, an integral part of the wholeness of personality and an emblem of their common humanity.

social sciences >> Keynes, John Maynard

The thought of John Maynard Keynes, the most influential economist of the twentieth century, was influenced by his experience as a homosexual.

social sciences >> The Labouchère Amendment

The Labouchère Amendment criminalized all sexual contact between men in Great Britain in 1885 and remained on the books until 1967.

social sciences >> Mason, Angela

The former head of Britain's first gay rights lobbying organization, Angela Mason has worked toward achieving equality for women and glbtq individuals in the United Kingdom.

arts >> McKellen, Sir Ian

Arguably the finest Shakespearean actor of his generation, Ian McKellen was the first British subject to be knighted after publicly revealing his homosexuality, an event that proved more controversial within the gay community than in the mainstream.

literature >> Sackville-West, Vita

Best known for her relationship with Virginia Woolf and for her scandalous love affairs, Vita Sackville-West was a prolific author of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction.

literature >> Sassoon, Siegfried

For war poet and memoirist Siegfried Sassoon, the grueling years of World War I left an indelible impression of devastation and futility that colored his entire life.

social sciences >> Stonewall Riots

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.

literature >> Strachey, Lytton

The English biographer and essayist Lytton Strachey spoke openly of his homosexuality to his Bloomsbury friends, but his openly gay works were published only after his death.

social sciences >> Tatchell, Peter

British activist Peter Tatchell, a vocal proponent of glbtq rights since the early 1970s, is controversial figure even within the glbtq community.

social sciences >> Turing, Alan

One of the greatest scientists of his generation, computer pioneer Alan Turing was also a victim of cold war homophobia.

literature >> Wilde, Oscar

Oscar Wilde is important both as an accomplished writer and as a symbolic figure who exemplified a way of being homosexual at a pivotal moment in the emergence of gay consciousness.

social sciences >> Wolfenden Report

The Wolfenden Report, a 1957 British government study, recommended that homosexual behavior between consenting adults in private no longer be criminalized in England.

literature >> Woolf, Virginia

Passionate friendships with women were essential to the life and work of novelist Virginia Woolf.


Bamforth, Nicholas. Sexuality, Morals and Justice: A Theory Of Lesbian & Gay Rights Law. London: Cassell, 1997.

Berridge, Virginia. AIDS in the UK: The Making of Policy, 1981-1994. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996.

Binnie, Hon. "Trading Places: Consumption, Sexuality and the Production of Queer Space." Mapping Desire: Geographies of Sexualities. David Bell and Gill Valentine, eds. London: Routledge, 1995. 182-213.

Bristow, Joseph. Effeminate England: Homoerotic Writing after 1885. New York: Columbia University Press, 1995.

Burston, Paul. Queen's Country: A Tour around the Gay Ghettos, Queer Spots and Camp Sights of Britain. London: Little, Brown, and Company, 1998.

Cooper, Emmanuel. The Sexual Perspective: Homosexuality and Art in the Last 100 Years in the West. 2nd rev. ed. London: Routledge, 1994.

Diduck, Alison. "A Family by Any Other Name . . . or Starbucks Comes to England." Journal of Law and Society 28.2 (June 2001): 290-310.

Fone, Byrne. Homophobia: A History. New York: Picador USA, 2000.

Gatter, Philip. Identity and Sexuality: AIDS in Britain in the 1990s. London: Cassell, 1999.

Griffiths, Robin. "Sad and Angry: Queers in 1960s British Cinema." British Queer Cinema. Robin Griffiths, ed. London: Routledge, 2006. 71-90.

Hamer, Emily. Britannia's Glory: A History of Twentieth Century Lesbians. London: Cassell, 1996.

Houlbrook, Matt. Queer London: Perils and Pleasures in the Sexual Metropolis, 1918-1957. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005.

Hyde, H[arford] Montgomery. The Love That Dared Not Speak Its Name: A Candid History of Homosexuality in Britain. Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1970.

Jeffery-Poulter, Stephen. Peers, Queers, and Commons: The Struggle for Gay Law Reform from 1950 to the Present. London: Routledge, 1991.

Jivani, Alkarim. It's Not Unusual: A History of Lesbian and Gay Britain in the Twentieth Century. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1997.

Miller, Neil. Out of the Past: Gay and Lesbian History from 1869 to the Present. New York: Vintage Books, 1995.

Oram, Alison, and Annmarie Turnball. The Lesbian History Sourcebook: Love and Sex between Women in Britain. London: Routledge, 2001.

Richardson, Colin. "What Brings You Trolling Back, Then?" The Guardian (January 17, 2005):,,1391811,00.html

Thynne, Lizzie. "'A Comic Monster of Revue': Beryl Reid, Sister George and the Performance of Dykery." British Queer Cinema. Robin Griffiths, ed. London: Routledge, 2006. 91-104.

Turner, Mark W. Backward Glances: Cruising the Queer Streets of New York and London. London: Reaktion Books, 2003.

_____. "Welcome to the Cruising Capital of the World." The Observer ( July 30, 2006):,,1833146,00.html

UK Collaborative Group for HIV and STI Surveillance. A Complex Picture: HIV and Other Sexually Transmitted Infections in the United Kingdom: 2006. London: Health Protection Agency, Centre for Infections, 2006.

Valentine, Gill. "Negotiating and Managing Multiple Sexual Identities: Lesbian Time-Space Strategies." Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers. N. S. 18.2 (1993): 237-248.

Vicinus, Martha. "Distance and Desire: English Boarding School Friendships, 1870-1920." Hidden from History: Reclaiming the Gay and Lesbian Past. Martin Bauml Duberman, Martha Vicinus, and George Chauncey, Jr., eds. New York: New American Library, 1989. 212-29.

Weeks, Jeffrey. Coming Out: Homosexual Politics in Britain, from the Nineteenth Century to the Present. London: Quartet Books, 1977.

_____. "Inverts, Perverts, and Mary-Annes: Male Prostitution and the Regulation of Homosexuality in Renaissance England in the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries." Hidden from History: Reclaiming the Gay and Lesbian Past. Martin Bauml Duberman, Martha Vicinus, and George Chancey, Jr., eds. New York: New American Library, 1989. 192-211.

_____. Making Sexual History. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2000.

_____. Sex, Politics & Society: the Regulation of Sexuality since 1800. 2nd ed. London: Longman, 1989.


    Citation Information
    Author: Mann, Richard G.  
    Entry Title: United Kingdom II: 1900 to the Present  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2007  
    Date Last Updated December 30, 2014  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2007 glbtq, Inc.  


This Entry Copyright © 2007 glbtq, Inc. is produced by glbtq, Inc., 1130 West Adams Street, Chicago, IL   60607 glbtq™ and its logo are trademarks of glbtq, Inc.
This site and its contents Copyright © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  All Rights Reserved.
Your use of this site indicates that you accept its Terms of Service.