Working in partnership with the LGBTI communities in the Covid-19 pandemic
Every person, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression are entitled to their rights. LGBT rights are not special rights, but the same human rights that should be afforded to all individuals. informed and updated on the implications of the human rights situation of specific groups.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland have evolved dramatically over time.
Before and during the formation of the United Kingdom, Christianity and homosexuality clashed. Same-sex sexual activity was characterised as “sinful” and, under the Buggery Act 1533, was outlawed and punishable by death. LGBT rights first came to prominence following the decriminalisation of sexual activity between men, in 1967 in England and Wales, and later in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Sexual activity between women was never subject to the same legal restriction.
Since the turn of the 21st century, LGBT rights have increasingly strengthened in support. Some discrimination protections had existed for LGBT people since 1999, but were extended to all areas under the Equality Act 2010. In 2016, Her Majesty’s Armed Forces removed its ban on LGBT individuals serving openly with the Armed Forces Act 2016, though it had adopted a policy of non-enforcement in 2000. The age of consent was equalised, regardless of sexual orientation, in 2001 at 16 in England, Scotland and Wales. The age of consent was lowered to 16 in Northern Ireland in 2009, previously it was 17 regardless of sexual orientation. Transgender people have had the right to change their legal gender since 2005. The same year, same-sex couples were granted the right to enter into a civil partnership, a similar legal structure to marriage, and also to adopt in England and Wales. Scotland later followed on adoption rights for same-sex couples in 2009, and Northern Ireland in 2013. Same-sex marriage was legalised in England and Wales, and Scotland in 2014, and in Northern Ireland in 2020.
Today, LGBT citizens have most of the same legal rights as non-LGBT citizens and the UK provides one of the highest degrees of liberty in the world for its LGBT communities. In ILGA-Europe‘s 2015 review of LGBTI rights, the UK received the highest score in Europe, with 86% progress toward “respect of human rights and full equality” for LGBT people and 92% in Scotland alone. Recent polls[when?] have indicated that a majority of British people support same-sex marriage, and 76% of the UK agreed that homosexuality should be accepted by society, according to a 2013 Pew Research Center poll. Additionally, the UK currently holds the world record for having the most out LGBTI people in Parliament with 45 out LGBTI MPs elected at the 2019 election.
A 2010 Integrated Household Survey estimated 1.5% of people in the UK identify themselves as gay, lesbian or bisexual – far lower than previous estimates of 5–7%. Interpreting the statistics, an Office for National Statistics (ONS) spokesperson said, “Someone may engage in sexual behaviour with someone of the same sex but still not perceive themselves as gay.” According to YouGov, however, studies such as that of the Integrated Household Survey underestimate the true proportion of the population that is LGBT as they use a face-to-face methodology, and non-heterosexual people are less willing to disclose their sexual orientation to an interviewer. YouGov itself estimates, based on its panel, which was inquired via an online questionnaire, that the proportion of LGBT people in the UK is 7%. It is also estimated that the trans population of the UK is between 300,000 and 500,000 people, but Stonewall concludes that it is hard to define the LGBT population of the UK because some LGBT people are not out. LGBT rights organisations and very large LGBT communities have been built across the UK, most notably in Brighton, which is widely regarded as the UK’s unofficial “gay capital”, with other large communities in London, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Liverpool, Newcastle upon Tyne, Edinburgh and Southampton which all have gay villages and host annual pride festivals.