1327 The deposed King Edward II of England is killed. The popular story that the king was assassinated by having a red-hot poker thrust into his anus has no basis in accounts recorded by Edward's contemporaries. Edward II had a history of conflict with the nobility, who repeatedly banished his former lover Piers Gaveston, the Earl of Cornwall. The Annales Paulini claims that Edward loved Gaveston "beyond measure", while the Lanercost says the intimacy between them was "undue". The Chronicle of Melsa states that Edward "particularly delighted in the vice of sodomy", without making special reference to Gaveston. Chroniclers called the King's relationship with Gaveston as excessive, immoderate, beyond measure and reason and criticised his desire for wicked and forbidden sex. It was hinted at by medieval chroniclers, and has been alleged by modern historians, that the relationship between Gaveston and Edward was homosexual.
1548 The provisions of the Buggery Act 1533 were given new force, with minor amendments. The penalty for buggery remained death, but goods and lands were not forfeit, and the rights of wives and heirs were safeguarded.
1558Elizabeth I ascends the English throne and reinstates the sodomy laws of 1533, (not 1548) which were then given permanent force.
1580King James VI of Scotland, made his formal entry into Edinburgh and began a relationship with Franco-Scottish Lord Esmé Stewart, 6th Lord d'Aubigny. The influence his favourites had on politics, and the resentment at the wealth they acquired, became major political issues during his reign. Scottish nobles ousted Lennox by luring the young king to Ruthven Castle as a guest but then imprisoned him for ten months. The Presbyterian nobles forced King James I of England to banish Lennox to France. Lennox and James remained in secret contact and after Lennox died in 1583, William Schaw took Lennox's heart back to James in Scotland. James had repeatedly vouched for Lennox's religious sincerity and memorialized him in a poem called "Ane Tragedie of the Phoenix", which said he was like an exotic bird of unique beauty killed by envy.
18th century illustration of a "Molly" (Contemporary term for an effeminate homosexual)
1606King James I of England began a relationship with Robert Carr, 1st Earl of Somerset. Carr happened to break his leg at a tilting match, at which the king was present. The king instantly fell in love with the young man, even helping nurse him back to health all the while teaching him Latin. Entirely devoid of all high intellectual qualities, Carr was endowed with good looks, excellent spirits, and considerable personal accomplishments. These advantages were sufficient for James, who knighted the young man and at once took him into favour. James made his lover Viscount of Rochester (1611), Knight of the Garter and Earl of Somerset (1613).
1623King James made his male lover George VilliersEarl of Coventry and Duke of Buckingham. Villiers was now the highest-ranking subject outside the royal family.
1680 A same-sex marriage was annulled. Arabella Hunt married "James Howard"; in 1682 the marriage was annulled on the ground that Howard was in fact Amy Poulter, a 'perfect woman in all her parts', and two women could not validly marry.
1697 The Earl of Portland wrote to King William III of England that "the kindness which your Majesty has for a young man, and the way in which you seem to authorise his liberties... make the world say things I am ashamed to hear". This, he said, was "tarnishing a reputation which has never before been subject to such accusations". William tersely dismissed these suggestions, however, saying, "It seems to me very extraordinary that it should be impossible to have esteem and regard for a young man without it being criminal."
1724Margaret Clap better known as Mother Clap, ran a coffee house from 1724 to 1726 in Holborn, London. The coffee house served as a Molly House for the underground gay community. Her house was popular, being well known within the gay community. She cared for her customers, and catered especially to the gay men who frequented it. She was known to have provided "beds in every room of the house" and commonly had "thirty or forty of such Kind of Chaps every Night, but more especially on Sunday Nights."
1736Stephen FoxPC a British peer and Member of Parliament had been living in a homosexual relationship with lover Lord Hervey for a period of ten years, from 1726 to 1736. Love letters (The Gay Love Letters of John, Lord Hervey to Stephen Fox) between Stephen and John testify their love.
1772 The first public debate about homosexuality began during the trial of Captain Robert Jones who was convicted of the capital offence of sodomizing a thirteen-year-old boy. The debate during the case and with the background of the 1772 Macaroni prosecutions considered Christian intolerance to homosexuality and the human rights of men who were homosexual. Jones was acquitted and received a pardon on condition that he left the country. He ended up living in grandeur with his footman at Lyon, in the South of France.
1785Jeremy Bentham becomes one of the first people to argue for the decriminalisation of sodomy in England, which was punishable by hanging. The essay written about 1785, Offences Against One's Self, argued for the liberalisation of laws prohibiting homosexual sex. He argued that homosexual acts did not weaken men nor threaten population nor marriage.
1810 The nineteenth century began with a wave of prosecutions against homosexual men. On 8 July, the Bow Street Runners raided The White Swan, a tumbledown pub of Tudor origin near Drury Lane. Twenty-seven men were arrested on suspicion of sodomy and attempted sodomy.
1812 Female born James Miranda Barry graduated from the Medical School of Edinburgh University as a doctor. Barry went on to serve as an army surgeon working overseas. Barry lived as a man but was found to be female-bodied upon his death in 1865.
1835 The last two men to be executed in Britain for buggery, James Pratt and John Smith, were arrested on 29 August at a house in Southwark after being observed having sex; they were hanged on 27 November.
1861 The death penalty for buggery was abolished. A total of 8921 men had been prosecuted since 1806 for sodomy with 404 sentenced to death and 56 executed.
1866 Marriage was defined as being between a man and a woman (preventing future same-sex marriages). In the case of Hyde v. Hyde and Woodmansee (a case of polygamy), Lord Penzance's judgment began "Marriage as understood in Christendom is the voluntary union for life of one man and one woman, to the exclusion of all others."
1871 Ernest 'Stella' Boulton and Frederick 'Fanny' Park, two Victorian transvestites and suspected homosexuals appeared as defendants in the celebrated Boulton and Park trial in London, charged "with conspiring and inciting persons to commit an unnatural offence". The indictment was against Lord Arthur Clinton, Ernest Boulton, Frederic Park, Louis Hurt, John Fiske, Martin Gumming, William Sommerville and C.H. Thompson. The prosecution was unable to prove that they had either committed any homosexual offence nor that men wearing women's clothing was an offence in English law. Lord Arthur Clinton killed himself before his trial.
1897George Cecil Ives organizes the first homosexual rights group in England, the Order of Chaeronea. Dr Helen Boyle and her partner, Mabel Jones, set up the first women-run General Practice in Brighton, including offering free therapy for poor women. Helen Boyle also founded the National Council for Mental Hygiene (which subsequently becomes MIND) in 1922. British sexologist Havelock Ellis publishes Sexual Inversion, the first volume in an intended series called Studies in the Psychology of Sex. He argues that homosexuality is not a disease but a natural anomaly occurring throughout human and animal history, and should be accepted,not treated. The book is banned in England for being obscene; the subsequent volumes in the series are published in the US and not sold in England until 1936.
1906 Dr. Louisa Martindale set up a private practice in Brighton and became the first woman GP. With a group of other Brighton feminists she developed the New Sussex Hospital for Women and Children, where she was Senior Surgeon and Physician. She later became a specialist in the early treatment of cervical cancer and was awarded a CBE in 1931. Louisa lived with her partner Ismay FitzGerald for three decades, and wrote of her love for her in her autobiography A Woman Surgeon, published in 1951.
1910 London homosexuals began to gather openly in public places such as pubs, coffee houses and tea shops for the first time. Waitresses ensured that a section of Lyons Corner House in Piccadilly Circus was reserved for homosexuals. The section became known as the Lily Pond.
1918 The gay English poet and writer W. H. Auden attended his first boarding school where he met Christopher Isherwood; when reintroduced to Isherwood in 1925, Auden probably fell in love with Isherwood and in the 1930s they maintained a sexual friendship in intervals between their relations with others.
1932Sir Noël Coward wrote "Mad About the Boy", a song which dealt with the theme of homosexual love. It was introduced in the 1932revue, but due to the risque nature of the song, it was sung by a woman. The News of the World published a story, 'Amazing Change of Sex', about a trans man from Sussex who transitioned 'from Margery to Maurice'. Colonel Sir Victor Barker DSO (1895 - 1960) married Elfrida Haward in Brighton. Barker's birth sex (female) is later revealed and the marriage is consequently annulled. Barker went on to appear in 'freakshow' displays in New Brighton, Southend-on-Sea and Blackpool.
1936 A 30-year-old British athletic champion, Mark Weston of Plymouth, transitioned from female to male. The story appeared in some national newspapers, including the News of the World (31 May 1936). The reportage was accurate and sensitive. In the words of Mr L.R.Broster, the Harley Street surgeon who treated him, 'Mark Weston, who has always been brought up as a female, is a male and should continue to live as such'.
1939-1945 World War II Over five million men served in the British armed forces during World War II. Of these, it's likely that at least 250,000 were gay or bisexual (based on projections from the 1990-91 National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles which found that six per cent of men report having had homosexual experiences).
1945Sir Harold Gillies and his colleague Ralph Millard carried out female-to-male confirmation surgery on Michael Dillon. Sir Harold Gillies developed his pioneering pedicle flap surgery with injured soldiers from World War II. Initially developed as reconstructive surgery, phalloplasty is now offered as a genital surgery option for trans men. Dillon underwent at least 13 surgeries between 1946 and 1949 and was elected for surgery on the pretext of treating a malformation of the Urethra (hypospadias), in order to conceal the exact nature of the surgery.
1950 On 31 July in Rotherham, an English schoolteacher, Kenneth Crowe, aged 37, was found dead wearing his wife's clothes and a wig. He had approached a minor on his way home from the pub, who upon discovering Crowe was male, beat and strangled him. John Cooney was found not guilty of murder and sentenced to five years for manslaughter. In response to the violence and unfair treatment of gay men, the Sexual Offences Act 1967 was passed seventeen years later.
1952 Sir John Nott-Bower, commissioner of Scotland Yard began to weed out homosexuals from the British Government at the same time as McCarthy was conducting a federal homosexual witch hunt in the US. During the early 50's as many as 1,000 men were locked up in Britain's prisons every year amid a widespread police clampdown on homosexual offences. Undercover officers acting as 'agents provocateurs' would pose as gay men soliciting in public places. The prevailing mood was one of barely concealed paranoia.
1959Alan Horsfall, Labour councillor for Nelson, Lancashire, tables a motion to his local Labour party to back the decriminalisation of homosexuality. The motion is rejected, but Horsfall and fellow activist Anthony Grey later form the North West Homosexual Law Reform Committee.
1965 In the House of Lords, Lord Arran proposed the decriminalisation of male homosexual acts (lesbian acts had never been illegal). A UK opinion poll finds that 93% of respondents see homosexuality as a form of illness requiring medical treatment.
1966 In the House of Commons Conservative MP Humphry Berkeley introduce a bill to legalise male homosexual relations along the lines of the Wolfenden report. Berkeley was well known to his colleagues as a homosexual, according to a 2007 article published in The Observer and was unpopular. His Bill was given a second reading by 164 to 107 on 11 February, but fell when Parliament was dissolved soon after. Unexpectedly, Berkeley lost his seat in the 1966 general election, and ascribed his defeat to the unpopularity of his bill on homosexuality. The Beaumont Society, a London-based social/support group for people who cross-dress, are transvestite or who are transsexual, was founded.
The book Homosexual Behavior Among Males by Wainwright Churchill breaks ground as a scientific study approaching homosexuality as a fact of life and introduces the term "homoerotophobia", a possible precursor to "homophobia". The courts decided that transsexuals could not get married; Justice Ormerod found that in the case of Talbot (otherwise Poyntz) v. Talbot where one spouse was a post-operativetranssexual their marriage was not permitted. Justice Ormerod stated that Marriage is a relationship which depends on sex, not on gender.
1970Gay Liberation Front (GLF) was established at London School of Economics on 13 October, in response to debates many gay men and lesbians were having in Britain about the way they were treated. The formation of GLF also influenced by the Stonewall Rebellion in the USA that started on 28 June 1969. In the case between April Ashley and Arthur Cameron Corbett, their marriage was annulled on the basis that Ashley, a transsexual woman, was a man under then-current British law. This set a legal precedent for trans people in Britain, meaning that the birth certificates of transsexual and intersex people could not be changed.
1974 Maureen Colquhoun came out as the first Lesbian MP for the Labour Party. When elected she was married in a heterosexual marriage. After coming out, her party refused to support her. Stephen Whittle, trans-man and prominent activist, co-founds a Manchester based "TV/TS" group, a group for transsexual people who crossdress. The First National TV/TS (Transvestite/Transsexual Conference) is held in Leeds. Jan Morris, one of Britain's top journalists who has covered wars and rebellions around the globe and climbed Mount Everest in 1952, publishes Conundrum, a personal account of her transition, widely hailed as a classic.
1976 Britain's political pressure group Liberty, under their alternate name National Council for Civil Liberties, (NCCL) called for an equal age of consent of 14 in Britain. The term Gay Bowel Syndrome was coined to describe a range of peri-anal and rectal diseases seen among gay male patients; in the pre-AIDS era this is the first medical term to relate to gay men.
1977 The first gay lesbian Trades Union Congress (TUC) conference took place to discuss workplace rights for Gays and Lesbians.
The red ribbon is a symbol for solidarity with HIV-positive people and those living with AIDS
1980 The Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 1980 decriminalised homosexual acts between two men over 21 years of age "in private" in Scotland.British documentary 'A Change of Sex' was aired on the BBC, enabling viewers to follow the social and medical transition of Julia Grant and also provides a snapshot of the Gender Identity Clinic, Charing Cross Hospital, London. The Self Help Association for Transsexuals (SHAFT) was formed as an information collecting and disseminating body for trans-people. The association later became known as 'Gender Dysphoria Trust International' (GDTI). The first Black Gay and Lesbian Group was formed in the UK.
1985AIDS hysteria grows in the UK when passengers on the Queen Elizabeth 2 curtailed their holiday as a person with AIDS was discovered on board. Cunard were criticised for trying to cover this up. A London support group Body Positive was set up as a self-help group for people affected by HTLV-3 and AIDS.Health Minister, Kenneth Clarke, enacted powers to detain people with AIDS in hospital against their will, potentially preventing people coming forward for treatment
1992 UK Crown Dependency of Isle of Man repealed sodomy laws (homosexuality was still illegal until 1994). The first Pride Festival was held in Brighton.Europride was inaugurated in London and was attended by estimated crowds of over 100,000.
1996 A breakthrough is made in the area of AIDS treatment; Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART) is found to significantly delay the onset of AIDS in people living with HIV. The NHS makes the treatment available in the UK. HAART has a dramatic effect and many bed ridden AIDS patients return to work. The European Court of Human Rights heard Morris v. The United Kingdom and Sutherland v. the United Kingdom, cases brought by Chris Morris and Euan Sutherland challenging the homosexual inequality in divided ages of consent. The government stated its intention to legislate to negate the court cases, which were put on hold.
1997Angela Eagle, Labour MP for Wallasey, becomes the first MP to come out voluntarily as a lesbian. Gay partners were given equal immigration rights.
2001 The last two pieces of unequal law regarding gay male sex are changed. In 1997 the European Commission of Human Rights found that the European Convention on Human Rights were violated by a discriminatory age of consent; the government submitted that it would propose a Bill to Parliament for a reduction of the age of consent for homosexual acts from 18 to 16. The Crime and Disorder Bill which proposed these amendments, was voted for in the House of Commons but rejected in the House of Lords. In 1998 it was reintroduced and again was voted for in the House of Commons but rejected in the House of Lords. It was reintroduced a third time in 1999 but the House of Lords amended it to maintain the age for buggery at 18 for both sexes. Provisions made in the Parliament Acts 1911 and 1949 made it possible to enact the bill without the Lords voting it through. The provisions of the Act came into force throughout the United Kingdom on 8 January 2001, lowering the age of consent to 16. Under the act consensual group sex for gay men is also decriminalised.
2002 Same-sex couples are granted equal rights to adopt. Alan Duncan becomes the first Conservative MP to admit being gay without being pushed.Brian Dowling becomes the first openly gay children's television presenter in the UK on SMTV Live.
2004 The Civil Partnership Act 2004 is passed by the Labour Government, giving same-sex couples the same rights and responsibilities as married heterosexual couples in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. The Gender Recognition Act 2004 is passed by the Labour Government. The Act gives transsexual people legal recognition as members of the sex appropriate to their gender (male or female) allowing them to acquire a new birth certificate, affording them full recognition of their acquired sex in law for all purposes, including marriage.
Francis (left) and Peter Scott-Morgan, the first civil partners in Devon, at their televised ceremony at Oldway Mansion
2011 Civil partners Martyn Hall and Steven Preddy were successful in their case against B&B owners Peter and Hazelmary Bull. Hall and Preddy were refused a double room at the B&B on the basis of their sexual orientation, although this was illegal under the 2007 Equality Act Regulations,