LGBTQ+ Rights and the Law

November 3, 2022
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Written by Hannah Luscombe, Associate & Senior Clinical Negligence Solicitor

Assistant Litigation Executive, Nermeen Salahuddin, takes us through a timeline of changes in laws relevant to LGBTQ+ rights:

The Sexual Offences Act 1967

  • This Act stipulated that private sexual acts between consenting men over the age of 21 would no longer be a criminal offence in England and Wales.
  • This Act paved the way for many legal and social changes which would transform the way the public viewed LGBTQ+ relationships.

Human Rights Act 1998

  • This Act allowed for fundamental human rights for individuals, including protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation.
  • This was later used to advance the rights of the community for legal protection in a relationship.
  • This law was also relied on to lift the ban on gay and bisexual individuals serving in the armed forces and equalising the age of consent to be the same as opposite-sex partners.

Adoption and Children Act 2002

  • This Act was instrumental in allowing same sex individuals to adopt legally for the first time in the UK.
  • It enabled the formation of same-sex families instead of one parent and another person who merely helped care for their partner’s child. Ergo, both same sex individuals were legally the child’s guardian.

Section 28 repeal 2003

  • In 1998, then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher introduced an amendment to the Local Government Act 1988; Section 28 which meant that teachers were not allowed to promote gay relationships in schools or “acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship.”
  • The law was met with outrage and was heavily campaigned against.
  • This was overturned in 2003, enabling many of the community to live out and be proud.

The Civil Partnership Act 2004

  • This Act allowed same-sex couples to enter into same-sex unions with the same rights as married couples, however it was criticised for not being seen in the same standing as marriage.

The Equality Act 2010

  • This Act followed the controversial Gender Recognition Act 2004. It added gender reassignment as a ‘protected characteristic’.
  • It also made it unlawful for someone to be discriminated against because of their sexual orientation.
  • This law protected many individuals against employers and business, enforcing anti-discrimination within organisations

Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013

  • This Act recognised same sex marriages, entered into law in England and Wales.
  • At the stroke of midnight on 29 March 2014, gay couples across England and Wales were wed when the law officially came into effect.


Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash

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