Why this year’s LGBT History Month is more important than ever

Plus your guide to events in major UK cities

February marks LGBT History Month in the UK, a month of events celebrating the achievements of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people across the world and promoting education about the issues which still affect the LGBT community today.

The LGBT community has suffered several blows in the past year alone. Last summer, Russia came under fire for passing a controversial clause banning “gay propaganda” – which, among other things, makes it illegal to distribute information to vulnerable LGBT youth – despite having decriminalised homosexuality two decades ago in 1993.

Then, in December 2013, India’s Supreme Court sent shockwaves through the worldwide community by recriminalising homosexuality, reinstating a colonial law which renders same-sex acts “an unnatural offence” and overturning a 2009 New Delhi High Court ruling which said the law was a violation of human rights.

Also in December, parliamentarians in Uganda passed a law which would see those guilty of “aggravated homosexuality” receive life sentences in prison. As with other anti-gay laws, the ostensible reasoning behind it was to protect children from being “recruited” into the gay lifestyle.

Even more recently, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan signed anti-gay measures into law which can give members of gay organisations up to 10 years and anyone in a same-sex marriage up to 14 years in prison. This is in addition to laws which already prohibit homosexual acts.

LGBT History Month falls in February to coincide with a large celebration which took place in 2005 over the repealing of Section 28 in England and Wales. Section 28, to which the recent Russian clause bears alarming resemblance, was a UK law in place from 1988 to 2003 (2000 in Scotland) which had the effect of preventing schools from discussing LGBT issues, offering advice to LGBT youth or portraying homosexual relations as an “acceptable family relationship”.

Openly gay members of the military have only been allowed to serve since 2000 in the UK, and “don’t ask, don’t tell” laws, which similarly prevented openly gay military personnel from serving in the USA armed forces, were only repealed in 2011.

LGBT History Month is important for commemorating individual losses and celebrating collective achievements. It is a festival of equality, but recent events warn us not to become too comfortable: India has shown that any law can be repealed, many still live in fear of homophobic attack, and Russia demonstrates a blatant disregard for the European Convention on Human Rights which it ratified in 1998 – in particular Article 10, which guarantees freedom of expression without state interference.

The Winter Olympics, due to commence in Sochi on 7 February, and thus coinciding with LGBT History Month, will draw international attention to Russia.

Homophobia, fierce hostility and acts of hatred are still very tangible obstructions to LGBT rights, and laws which prevent confused young people from accessing information only serve to damage and isolate them, not protect them.

Education is paramount in eliminating prejudice against all minorities and a stated aim of LGBT History Month is to “educate out prejudice” while “celebrating the diversity of society as a whole”, which is why schools, colleges and universities need to be free to divulge information, offer help and advice, and promote equal treatment of LGBT students.

This year’s LGBT History Month theme is music, and there is a whole host of mostly free events to get involved with – ideal for the strapped student. Here’s a selection of the best.


Musical showcase, 19:00, 7 February

Listen to some great music performed by LGBT musicians, choral societies, students, teachers and professionals.


Film screening and exhibition from Rainbow Jews, 18:30, 6 February

Explores some of the identity issues resulting from belonging to more than one persecuted group.


Panel discussion, 19:00, 17 February

Life still isn’t easy for LGBT people, but it used to be a lot harder. How do older queer populations experience London and how do they read it differently?



LGBT History Tour, 13:15, 14 February

Celebrate Valentine’s Day with a visit to the museum and educate yourself about LGBT history.



Lecture: what’s the problem with LGBT History Month? 17:00, 26 February

Even celebrations are not beyond criticism – this lecture reflects on the possibilities and the problems of LGBTQ History Month. 



LGBT Quiz, 20:00, 24 February

Go and test your knowledge at this fun and informative event.



Mini conference at University of Leeds, 13:00, 12 February

A vibrant discussion of what LGBT history is, featuring students, academics and independent researchers.



Film screening of ‘Vito’, 20:00, 20 February

Who can say no to a free movie?



Creating LGBT-friendly schools and workplaces, 18:00, 12 February

Come and listen to Elly Barnes, a prominent LGBT spokesperson. This is suitable for teachers, education professionals, students and anyone interested in promoting diversity within their organisation – see how you can make a difference.


Seminar: advancing LGBT equality, 10:00, 24 February

How do we go about promoting further equality for LGBT people?



University of Oxford annual LGBT History Month Lecture 2014, 18:00, 13 February

A talk addressing the specific topic of “Re-examining the history of sexuality in the Christian West”.


For full event listings, see here.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Software Developer

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Join a fast growing software co...

Guru Careers: Graduate Account Executive / Digital Account Executive

£20k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Graduate / Digital Account Exe...

Guru Careers: Junior Designer / Design Graduate

£18k: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Junior Designer / Design Graduate to join...

Recruitment Genius: Key Sales Account Manager / Graduate Trainee

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Key Sales Account Manager/Graduate Trainee i...

Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum