1970s in LGBT rights

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This is a list of notable events in the history of LGBT rights that took place in the 1970s.


The Gay Pride Flag, symbol of the Rights Movement, was first flown in 1978 in San Francisco. This is the current version, flying over the Castro in June 2005

The Stonewall riots, which occurred in New York City in June 1969, are generally considered to have ignited the modern gay rights movement in the United States (Canada, England and Wales had already decriminalised homosexuality in 1967). In the 1970s, in western countries and especially so in major urban centers, gay and lesbian people came out of the closet like never before (even as many others remained closeted) and a vocal and visible gay-rights movement coalesced in an unprecedented way.

Considering the profound stigma still attached to homosexuality at the dawn of the 1970s, the movement, although still nascent, saw tremendous gains over the course of the decade. The American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from its list of psychiatric disorders in 1973. Homosexual decriminalisation laws and ordinances were passed by several cities and states, including Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1972, South Australia in 1975, the Australian Capital Territory in 1976, and in 1977 Quebec became the first jurisdiction larger than a city or county in the world to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation in the public and private sectors.

Bisexuality also saw increased visibility. A Quaker group, the Committee of Friends on Bisexuality, issued the “Ithaca Statement on Bisexuality” supporting bisexuals.[1]

The Statement, which may have been "the first public declaration of the bisexual movement" and "was certainly the first statement on bisexuality issued by an American religious assembly," appeared in the Quaker Friends Journal and The Advocate in 1972.[2][3][4]

Today Quakers have varying opinions on LGBT people and rights, with some Quaker groups more accepting than others.[5]

For the first time, a few openly gay people were elected to political office in the United States. In 1977 Harvey Milk, a politically active gay man in the emerging gay neighborhood The Castro, was elected to the Board of Supervisors in San Francisco. Milk and liberal San Francisco mayor George Moscone were assassinated the following year. In 1979 their assassin, Dan White, received a sentence of voluntary manslaughter. The anger the gay community felt about the murders and about White's light sentence further galvanized the movement (see White Night Riots).

The increasing visibility of gay people also generated a backlash during the 1970s. In perhaps the most discussed anti-gay rights campaign of the decade, singer Anita Bryant led a successful drive in 1977 to repeal a gay-rights ordinance in Dade County, Florida. The new openness about homosexuality proved disconcerting to some heterosexuals who had been accustomed to gay and lesbian people remaining closeted and politically silent. Canadian author Robertson Davies wrote during the decade that "the love that dare not speak its name" (referencing the famous Lord Alfred Douglas quotation, also quoted by Oscar Wilde during his court case in 1895) "has become the love that won't shut up." On October 14, 1979, approximately 100,000 people marched in Washington, D.C., in the largest pro-gay rights demonstration up to that time.

By year[edit]

  • 1970 – 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; Carl Wittman writes A Gay Manifesto;[6][7] CAMP (Campaign Against Moral Persecution) is formed in Australia.[8][9]
  • 1971Society Five (a homosexual rights organization) is formed in Melbourne, Australia; Homosexuality is decriminalized in Austria, Costa Rica and Finland; Colorado and Oregon repeal sodomy laws; Idaho repeals the sodomy law — Then re-instates the repealed sodomy law because of outrage among Mormons and Catholics.[10][11] The Netherlands changes the homosexual age of consent to 16, the same as the straight age of consent; The U.S. Libertarian Party calls for the repeal of all victimless crime laws, including the sodomy laws; Dr. Frank Kameny becomes the first openly gay candidate for the United States Congress; The University of Michigan establishes the first collegiate LGBT programs office, then known as the "Gay Advocate's Office." The UK Gay Liberation Front (GLF) was recognized as a political movement in the national press and was holding weekly meetings of 200 to 300 people.[12]
  • 1972 – Sweden becomes first country in the world to allow transgender people (called transsexuals at the time) to legally change their sex, and provides free hormone therapy;[13] Hawaii legalizes homosexuality; In Australia, the Dunstan Labor government introduces a consenting adults in private type defence in South Australia. This defence was initiated as a bill by Murray Hill, father of former Defence Minister Robert Hill, and later repealed the state's sodomy law in 1975; Norway decriminalizes homosexuality; East Lansing, Michigan and Ann Arbor, Michigan and San Francisco, California become the first cities in United States to pass a homosexual rights ordinance. Jim Foster, San Francisco and Madeline Davis, Buffalo, New York, first gay and lesbian delegates to the Democratic Convention, Miami, McGovern; give the first speeches advocating a gay rights plank in the Democratic Party Platform. "Stonewall Nation" first gay anthem is written and recorded by Madeline Davis and is produced on 45 rpm record by the Mattachine Society of the Niagara Frontier. Lesbianism 101, first lesbianism course in the U.S. taught at the University of Buffalo by Margaret Small and Madeline Davis.[citation needed] A Quaker group, the Committee of Friends on Bisexuality, issued the “Ithaca Statement on Bisexuality” supporting bisexuals.[1]

    The Statement, which may have been "the first public declaration of the bisexual movement" and "was certainly the first statement on bisexuality issued by an American religious assembly," appeared in the Quaker Friends Journal and The Advocate in 1972.[2][3][4]

Gay rights protesters in New York City, protesting at the United States' 1976 Democratic National Convention
Original eight-color version of the LGBT pride flag

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-10-15. Retrieved 2013-11-01.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ a b Donaldson, Stephen (1995). "The Bisexual Movement's Beginnings in the 70s: A Personal Retrospective". In Tucker, Naomi (ed.). Bisexual Politics: Theories, Queries, & Visions. New York: Harrington Park Press. pp. 31–45. ISBN 1-56023-869-0.
  3. ^ a b Highleyman, Liz (2003-07-11). "PAST Out: What is the history of the bisexual movement?". LETTERS From CAMP Rehoboth. 13 (8). Archived from the original on 2008-05-31. Retrieved 2008-03-18.
  4. ^ a b Martin, Robert (1972-08-02). "Quakers 'come out' at conference". The Advocate (91): 8.
  5. ^ http://www.hrc.org/resources/entry/stances-of-faiths-on-lgbt-issues-religious-society-of-friends-quakers
  6. ^ Wittman, Carl (1970). "A Gay Manifesto (1970)". Gay Homeland Foundation. Archived from the original on 17 February 2010. Retrieved 28 June 2010.
  7. ^ Blasius, Mark; Shane Phelan (1997). We are everywhere: a historical sourcebook in gay and lesbian politics. Routledge. pp. 380–90. ISBN 0-415-90859-0.
  8. ^ Jennings, Rebecca (2008-10-21). "Lesbians". Dictionary of Sydney. Archived from the original on 26 July 2011. Retrieved 28 June 2010.
  9. ^ Willett, Graham (2000). Living out loud: a history of gay and lesbian activism in Australia. Allen & Unwin. p. 33.
  10. ^ Getting Rid of Sodomy Laws: History and Strategy that Led to the Lawrence Decision
  11. ^ "Sodomy Laws, Idaho". Archived from the original on 2002-10-14. Retrieved 2008-01-14.
  12. ^ Victoria Brittain (28 August 1971). "An Alternative to Sexual Shame: Impact of the new militancy among homosexual groups". The Times. p. 12.
  13. ^ a b Bergh, Frederick Quist (2001). "Jag känner mig lite homosexuell idag" [I feel a bit gay today] (in Swedish). Retrieved 1 April 2013.
  14. ^ Stanton L. Jones; Mark A. Yarhouse (20 August 2009). Homosexuality: The Use of Scientific Research in the Church's Moral Debate. InterVarsity Press. p. 97. ISBN 978-0-8308-7554-2.
  15. ^ Carolyn Bain (2007). Malta & Gozo. Lonely Planet. p. 174. ISBN 978-1-74104-540-6.
  16. ^ Ronan McCrea (7 October 2010). Religion and the Public Order of the European Union. Oxford University Press. p. 32. ISBN 978-0-19-959535-8.
  17. ^ Hubert Kennedy (15 April 2013). The Ideal Gay Man: The Story of Der Kreis. Routledge. p. 73. ISBN 978-1-135-78636-6.
  18. ^ Scott Barclay; Mary Bernstein; Anna-Maria Marshall (2009). Queer Mobilizations: LGBT Activists Confront the Law. NYU Press. p. 128. ISBN 978-0-8147-9130-1.
  19. ^ Florence Tamagne (2006). A History of Homosexuality in Europe, Vol. I & II: Berlin, London, Paris, 1919-1939. Algora Publishing. p. 400. ISBN 978-0-87586-355-9.
  20. ^ Warner, Tom. ‘’Never Going Back: A History of Queer Activism in Canada’’, 2002 University of Toronto Press, ISBN 0-8020-8460-5 p41
  21. ^ Ottosson, Daniel (November 2006). "World legal wrap up survey" (PDF). ILGA. Retrieved 10 October 2016 – via http://accept-romania.ro/.
  22. ^ ILGA Archived 2009-04-22 at the Wayback Machine