Birmingham’s LGBTQ+ History Timeline

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Birmingham’s LGBTQ+ History Timeline
  • 1533

    King Henry VIII passes a law that means sex between men is punishable by death.

  • 1861

    The Offences Against the Person Act changed the punishment for homosexual acts from death to a prison term of hard labour between 10 years and life.

    Charles Record, a 35-year-old labourer, was committed to Birmingham Borough Lunatic Asylum. One of the reasons listed for his committal was that he was affected with ‘unnatural desires’. In this period, LGBTQ+ people were often stigmatized as suffering from a ‘disease’ that needed to be cured.

  • 1940s

    The Imperial Hotel on Temple Street in Birmingham was a popular place for gay men to meet throughout the 1940s and 50s.

  • 1967

    The Sexual Offences Act decriminalises sex, ‘in private’, between men over the age of 21.

    Birmingham’s oldest gay club, ‘The Nightingale Club’, is opened.

  • 1972

    Birmingham Gay Liberation Front was established. The organization was dedicated to campaigning for LGBT rights.

  • 1976

    The Birmingham Gay Community Centre was opened. It was the first LGBT community centre to be established in the UK.

  • 1982

    The Midland Deaf Gay Group (later known as Central Rainbow) was formed by deaf members of Birmingham’s LGBTQ+ community.

  • 1987

    The first National Black Gay Men’s Conference was held in London. Attendees included representatives from Birmingham as well as other major UK cities.

  • 1988

    Section 28 of the Local Government Act prohibited local authorities from ‘promoting’ homosexuality. This meant that schools were not allowed to provide support to LGBTQ+ pupils or tackle homophobic bullying.

    The Birmingham Stop the Clause Group organised protests against Section 28.

  • 1994

    LesBeWell, an organisation focussing on Lesbian health issues, was set up. LesBeWell organised National Lesbian Health Conferences in Birmingham in 1995 and 1996.

  • 1995

    Members of Birmingham’s LGBTQ+ community picketed Jo Joes bar. The bar had refused entry to local Drag Queens and had dismissed three lesbian members of staff after only a day in the job. As a result of the protests, the bar was taken to an industrial tribunal and ordered to pay compensation to the dismissed staff.

  • 1997

    The first official Birmingham Gay Pride Festival took place.

  • 2003

    After years of campaigning by LGBTQ+ activists, Section 28 was repealed in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

  • 2004

    The Gender Recognition Act was passed, allowing trans people to legally change their gender.

     Although this Act was viewed as groundbreaking at the time, it is now considered outdated and demeaning as trans people have to go through a highly medicalized and complex process to get their gender legally recognised. LGBTQ+ groups are continuing to campaign to reform the Act.

  • 2008

    The Gay Birmingham Remembered Project was launched. The project collects memories, documents, photos and memorabilia to document and conserve the history of Birmingham’s LGBTQ+ community.

  • 2014

    The Marriage Act is passed, allowing same-sex couples to get married in England and Wales.

     Khakan Qureshi set up Finding a Voice, a Birmingham-based support group for LGBTQ+ South Asians.

  • 2016

    Headteacher Andrew Moffat introduced his No Outsiders programme at Parkfield Community School in Birmingham. The programme aims to teach students about the 2010 Equality Act and the importance of celebrating difference and diversity within their school and community. 

    The introduction of the programme at Parkfield led to protests by some parents and members of the local community who objected to it on religious grounds.

  • 2019

    The Birmingham Pride parade was held in support of the No Outsiders programme. Andrew Moffat led the parade alongside prominent LGBTQ+ Muslim campaigners Khakan Qureshi and Saima Razzaq.

  • 2021

    Birmingham Against LGBTQI Hate campaigned in protest of recent incidents of hate crime committed against the community.