Celebrating 25 years to the day that Stonewall was founded, Europe’s largest rights charity has released a message that a lot has been achieved but that there is still “lots to do”.
Stonewall was founded on 20 May 1989 by a small group of men and women in opposition to Section 28, and other barriers to equality. Stonewall founders include Sir actor Ian McKellen, Lisa Power MBE and MEP Michael Cashman CBE.
The first ever lesbian and gay receptions were held at the Lib Dem, Labour and Conservative Party conferences that year.
In a statement on the Stonewall25 website, which includes an interactive timeline of the history of the organisation, Stonewall said: “In 2014 Stonewall turns 25. We’ve seen remarkable achievements for lesbian, gay and bisexual equality in Britain since we were founded in 1989 and we’re hugely proud of being part of these changes.”
The timeline also includes the coming out of actor Sir Ian McKellen, his meeting with Prime MInister John Major in 1991, the lowering of the age of consent for gay men, the Admiral Duncan bombing, the lifting of the ban on gay armed forces members serving openly, same-sex marriage and more.
The statement continues: “Even the visionary group of people who set up Stonewall 25 years ago, couldn’t have imagined quite how different the Britain of 2014 would be. In a country whose Government introduced Section 28 all three major political parties have now pledged to tackle homophobic bullying. In a country which until the turn of the century banned lesbian, gay and bisexual people from our armed forces all three major services are now marching openly at Pride. In a country where almost half of the population was born into a society which criminalized homosexual relationships, equal marriage was passed into law with an unprecedented majority. The Britain of 2014 is one where lesbian, gay and bisexual people can hope to live, work, socialize and even pray on an equal footing with their heterosexual friends and family.
“But at Stonewall we’re well aware that realising that hope isn’t always easy. All too often lesbian, gay and bisexual people find themselves in situations where we don’t feel welcome, safe or able to be ourselves. That’s why, even after a quarter century of remarkable progress, we won’t stop until every lesbian, gay and bisexual person – from every background, every neighbourhood and every parish – can live their life without fear of discrimination.”