LGBT rights in the United Kingdom

rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the United Kingdom

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights in the United Kingdom have improved a lot in recent years. In 2005, civil partnerships for same sex couples was legalised across the UK. In 2014, same sex marriage was legalised in England, Scotland and Wales.[1] Gay people cannot get married in Northern Ireland because the Northern Ireland assembly voted against legalising it.[2]

LGBT map of the UK

Sex between two men was illegal in the UK until 1967, but no law was ever made regarding lesbian sexual activity. In 1967, sex between men was partially decriminalized in England and Wales. It was made legal for men over 21 years' old in 1967, with some very serious restrictions, legal for men over 18 in 1994, and equalized with the heterosexual age of consent in 2002. The bill in 2000 also introduced a lesbian age of consent for the first time too. In Scotland it was legalised in 1981 and in Northern Ireland it was legalized in 1982. However, the UK Parliament legislated for same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland, which is expected to come into force on or before 13 January 2020.

Legal summaryEdit

Same-sex sexual activity legal   1967 (England and Wales)

1981 (Scotland)

1982 (Northern Ireland)

Equal age of consent  
Anti-discrimination laws in employment only  
Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services  
Anti-discrimination laws in all other areas (incl. indirect discrimination, hate speech)  
Recognition of same-sex couples (e.g. registered partnership or civil union, etc)   All of the UK, since 2005
Step-child adoption by same-sex couples  
Gays and lesbians allowed to serve openly in the military  
Same-sex marriages   (in England, Scotland and Wales, since 2014, and also in Northern Ireland since 2020)


  1. "Gay marriage bill: Peers back government plans". BBC News Online. 4 June 2013. Retrieved 4 June 2013.
  2. Sam Mcbride (2013-06-26). "Assembly members vote to block gay marriage". Archived from the original on 2014-10-06. Retrieved 2014-04-07.