POLITICS

The Sexual Offences Act Turns 50: These Videos Show How Law Change Transformed People's Lives

Parliamentary project speaks of 'remarkable' journey for LGBTI+ community

07/07/2017 11:00 BST

Sex between two men was decriminalised 50 years ago and the remarkable milestone is being celebrated. 

As part of Pride 2017, Parliament has released a series of ‘Your Story, Our History’ videos exploring how the legislation paved the way for stronger equality laws in the UK. 

The Sexual Offences Act 1967 decriminalised private homosexual acts between men aged over 21, while at the same time imposing heavier penalties on street offences.

But each of the videos points out there is “still more to do” with gay marriage still outlawed in Northern Ireland and many LGBTI+ people regularly reporting discrimination and hate crime.  

Peter and Geoff on how the 1967 Sexual Offences Act changed their lives: “The Sexual Offences Act 1967 was a remarkable stepping-stone to what came afterwards. In 1994 the age of consent dropped to 18, and then in 2000 it became 16.

“Finally, when the 2003 Sexual Offences Act passed I thought ‘thank goodness’, we are now absolutely in the criminal law on an equal footing with heterosexual people.

“I could think of younger people, our son, whatever his sexuality was going to be, and just think, well they will not have to go through all that fear that we went through.”

Nadine and Tia on how changes to the law affected their lives as queer woman of colour: “When you are a queer woman of colour, you just feel like an anomaly a lot of the time.

“The Civil Partnership Act is incredibly important to me. I know that when I choose to have a family and when I choose to have children I’d really like to be able to know that my partner is an equal to me.”

Jake on how the Gender Recognition Act has shaped his gender identity: “For the first ten years of my life I prayed to God that I’d wake up as a boy as I was supposed to be.

“I never thought that I’d be happy by the time I came to transitioning, the 2004 Gender Act had already come into effect, so I was never one of those people that wasn’t quite considered a citizen being able to finally be seen as the male that you are on your birth certificate was just amazing. It just felt right.”

David Clark, Head of Education and Engagement, UK Parliament said: “The Your Story, Our History films show how the legislation that Parliament has passed over the last 50 years has affected people’s lives and shaped the UK and its tolerance to different communities.

“We’re excited to be able to release these films this month, to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Sexual Offences Act.”