Chronography of Homosexuality

Page last modified 24 November 2023


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17 May 2019, Taiwan became the first country in Asia to legalise same-sex marriage. At this time Israel recognised gay marriages conducted elsewhere but they could not be performed in Israel. Homosexuality could be punished by death in Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The taboos against homosexuality were slowly vanishing in Vietnam and Nepal. In Africa,South Africa was the only African country where same sex marriage was legal. In Suda, Somalia and Mauretania, gay people faced the death penalty. A small number of African countries, including Congo (DR), Cote d�Ivoire, Gabon, Mali and Mozambique, did not have laws against homosexuality.

7 March 2012, The UN presented its report on violations of the human rights of gay people worldwide. Representatives of several African and Arab States walked out.



1/2019, Angola removed a ban on same-sex relationships.



7 December 2017, The Australian Parliament legalised same-sex marriage, a month after a referendum showed strong support for the move.

11/2016, A planned referendum on whether same sex marriage should be allowed in Australia was blocked by the upper house of Parliament.

2 March 2002, The 24th Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras was held in Australia.

3 March 2001, The 23rd Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras was held in Australia.

1 May 1997. Tasmania became the last Australian State to decriminalise homosexuality.

8 June 1984, The State of New South Wales, Australia, decriminalised homosexuality after six years of public protest.



1991, The Bahamas legalised gay sex.



31 January 2003, Belgium legally recognised same-sex marriages, under legislation to come into force 1 June 2003.



2016, Belize removed a ban on same-sex relationships.



6/2019, Judges in Botswana ruled that laws criminalisng same-sex relationsbips were unconstitutional and should be struck down.


British Virgin Islands

2001, The British Virgin Islands legalised gay sex.



20 July 2005, Canada�s Civil Marriage Act, legalising same-sex marriages, received Royal Assent.



1997, China abolished criminal penalties for homosexual acts.

15/8/1 BC, Death of Emperor Ai of China. Famously, he cut off the sleeve of his robe rather than awaken his male lover; hence the Chinese expression �cut-sleeve-love�.



1979, Cuba legalised gay sex.



26 May 1989, Denmark became the first country to legalise same-sex marriages.



10/2014, Estonia became the first former Soviet republic to legalise Civil partnerships.



6/1935, In Nazi Germany, penalties for homosexuality were toughened. All such acts became punishable by imprisonment with a possible extra ten years for any aggravating circumstances, for example corruption of the young, or prostitution.

1897, The first organisation to promote homosexual rights was set up, in Germany. It lasted until the rise of Nazism in the 1930s.



590 BC, The female Greek poet Sappho was writing about love on the Greek island of Lesbos.



1804, Haiti became an independent state; it has never had laws against gay sex.


Hong Kong

24/8/2005,A Hong Kong Judge, Michael Hartmann, ruled that sodomy laws were unconstitutional.



9/2018, India legalised gay sex.



23 May 2015, Ireland voted by a margin of 2:1 to legalise gay marriage. The result, 1,201,607 YES votes against 734,300 NO, was remarkable in a strongly Catholic country. The Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Diarmuid Martin, said the Church may have become disconnected with young people, and ruled out gay marriages in Catholic churches.

24 June 1993, Ireland legalised gay sex with an equal age of consent as for homosexuals, 17.



28/8/1994, Tokyo hosted Japan�s first gay pride parade.



5/2019, Judges in Kenya refused to outlaw rules against same sex marriages.



2012, Lesotho removed a ban on same-sex relationships.



2009, Mexico legalised same-sex marriages. Civil unions between same-sex couples had been legalised there in 2007.



2014, Mozambique removed a ban on same-sex relationships.



2016, Nauru removed a ban on same-sex relationships.



1 April 2001, In The Netherlands, same-sex marriages were made legal.This was the first time such marriages had been legal there since the time of Nero.


New Zealand

17 April 2013, Same sex marriage was legalised in New Zealand.



2014, Palau removed a ban on same-sex relationships.


Russia (USSR)

14 July 2023, The Russian Duma (lower House of Parliament() unanimously voted to ban gender reassignment surgery. The move will become law once oit is signbed by President Putin and approved by the Senate (Upper House)

17 August 2012, Moscow banned any Gay Pride events for the next 100 years.

March 1934, A decree was issued in the USSR requiring all the Republics to enact laws criminalising homosexual acts between males. The original 1926 penal code of post-Revolutionary Russia had made no mention of homosexuality. As a �social crime� along with banditry, espionage, sabotage, and counter-Revolutionary activity, homosexuality was now punishable by 3 � 5 years imprisonment.


Sao Tome & Principe

2012, Sao Tome & Principe removed a ban on same-sex relationships.



2016, The Seychelles removed a ban on same-sex relationships.



28 February 2022, Singapore maintained an ambiguous position on gay rights when, this day, its Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal by three gay rights activists against the constitutionality pf section 377a of the penal code, a colonial-era law that criminalises sex between men, punishable by up to 2 years prison. The Judges avoided the issue of constitutionality by stating that the Court had to take into account the stance of the Government. In 2007 the Singaporean Parliament had debated section 377a and the Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong, said that this law �would not be proactoively enforced�. This leaves open the possibility that it could again be enforced, if Government chose to. Meanwhile the Courtt srguedthat 377a did not violate anybody�s constitutional rights if it was not being enforced. In 2018 the Singapore Attorney-General said it was not in the public interest to prosecute private homosexual acts.


South Africa

1 December 2005, South Africa became the fifth country in the world to recognise same-sex marriages.



30 June 2005, Spain joined Belgium and The Netherlands in permitting same-sex marriages.



19 December 1994, Civil unions between homosexuals were made legal in Sweden.



17 May 2019, Taiwan became the first country in Asia to legalise same-sex marriage. At this time Israel recognised gay marriages conducted elsewhere but they could not be performed in Israel. Homosexuality could be punished by death in Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The taboos against homosexuality were slowly vanishing in Vietnam and Nepal. In Africa,South Africa was the only African country where same sex marriage was legal. In Suda, Somalia and Mauretania, gay people faced the death penalty. A small number of African countries, including Congo (DR), Cote d�Ivoire, Gabon, Mali and Mozambique, did not have laws against homosexuality.

2/8/1958, Chi Chia-wei, Taiwanese gay rights activist, was born in Taiwan


Trinidad and Tobago

4/2018, Trinidad and Tobago removed a ban on same-sex relationships.



20 December 2013, Uganda passed the Anti-Homosexuality Act, criminalising homosexual activities, some of which were now punishable by life imprisonment. The Act was supported by some evangelical Christian groups.



29 March 2014, Same-sex marriages became legal in England and Wales.

2013, 2% of British Catholics believed homosexuality was wrong, compared to 68% in 1983. However in 2013 52% of British Muslims said homosexuality was wrong.

24 December 2013, Alan Turing, the mathematician who broke the Nazi codes during World War Two but who was convicted of gross indecency for a homosexual act with a man in 1952,was posthumously pardoned by Queen Elizabeth II. He was given chemical castration but his criminal record meant he could no longer work for GCHQ and he committed suicide by cyanide poisoning in 1954, aged 41. Prominent figures including Stephen Hawking and Peter Tatchell had been campaigning for a pardon for several years.

1/2007, In the UK, the House of Lords upheld legislation banning discrimination against homosexuals.

5 December 2005, In the UK, the Civil Partnership Act came into force; this gave same sex partnerships the same legal status as heterosexual marriages.

18 November 2004, In the UK, the Civil Partnership Bill, allowing registered unions for same-sex couples, received Royal Assent.

11 July 2002, The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg ruled that Christine Goody could legally marry a man, despite being born a man herself. The ruling wouldcreate further recognition and rights for the UK�s estimated 5,000 transsexuals.

8 January 2001, In the UK the House of Commons overruled the House of Lords, which had blocked an equalisation of the Age of Consent for homosexuals with heterosexuals. Homosexual sex had been illegal in the UK until 1967 when the Sexual Offences Act made it legal for people aged 21 and above. This age was lowered to 18 in 1994, and to 16 in 2001, under a policy commitment by Tony Blair�s New Labour Government.

2000, It was no longer illegal to be homosexual in the British Army.

21 February 1994, In Britain, Parliament voted to lower the age of consent for homosexuals from 21 to 18.

19 January 1994, Jane Brown, headmistress of a school in Hackney, London, barred pupils from seeing Romeo and Juliet because it was �too heterosexual�.

24 May 1988, In the UK, the controversial Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988 was passed. This made the promotion of homosexuality by local authorities, for example by teaching its acceptability in schools, illegal.

11 July 1977. British magazine Gay News was fined �1,000 for publishing a poem about a homosexual Jesus.

1972, Gay News, the largest-circulation homosexual newspaper in Britain, began publication. It ceased publication in 1983, biut was incorporated in Gay Times in 1984.

27 November 1970. The Gay Liberation Front marched in London for the first time.

27/71967, In the UK, the Sexual Offences Act partially decriminalised homosexuality. Two men could have sex together if they were above the age of 21.

18 November 1962. Bishop Ambrose Reeves encouraged Oxford students to write to their MPs urging them to repeal the laws on homosexuality.

4 September 1957. In the UK, the Wolfenden Report recommended decriminalising homosexual acts between consenting adults. This would remove a significant cause of blackmail. �Adult� meant aged 21 or over; some feared this would be a licence for child abuse. On 14 November 1957 the Church of England backed the Wolfenden reforms. However the UK government shied away from this controversial change to the law. It was only in June 1967 when the Sexual Offences Bill legalised such homosexual acts as Wolfenden recommended.

1952, In the UK, Alan Turing was convicted of gross indecency and chemically castrated.

Oscar Wilde, imprisonment 1895-7

19 May 1897, Oscar Wilde was released from Reading gaol.

25 May 1895, Oscar Wilde�s second trial ended, and he was sentenced to two year�s hard labour.

26 April 1895. At the Old Bailey, the trial of Oscar Wilde for homosexuality, then a crime, began.

6 April 1895, Oscar Wilde was now arrested for the crime of homosexuality (see 5 April 1895). He was sentenced to 2 years hard labour.

5 April 1895, Oscar Wilde sued the Marquess of Queensberry for libel at the Old Bailey. The Marquess was alleged to have left a note at Mr Wilde�s club accusing him of sodomy. The Marquess, keen on boxing, was annoyed that his son, Alfred, had an intimate relationship with Mr Wilde. Oscar Wilde lost his case.

1885, In the UK, the Labouchere Amendment, promoted by Henry Labouchere, Liberal MP for Northempton and strong opponent of homosexuality, made �gross indecnecy� a crime under section 11 of the 1885 Criminal Law Ameddment Act. Known as the �blackmailer�s Charter, this Amendment was often used to prosecute homosexuals where no actual intercourse could be proved.

1861, In the UK, the Offences Against the Person Act repealed the death penalty for sodomy and bestiality. The maximum sentence was reduced to life imprisonment; there was a minimum sentence of ten years. This was part of Robert Peel�s reforms.

1700, Until now homosexuality in England had been tolerated (despite the draconoian punishments for buggery). However a Puritan crusade now sparked an era of intolerance, and in 1727 the Society for the Reformation of Manners succeeded in getting the pillory and even the death penalty instituted for homosexuality.

1533, In England, the Buggery Act was passed by Parliament under Henry VIII, making sodomy and bestiality criminal offences punishable by death. See 1861.



2 April 2013, Uruguay legalised same-sex marriages.



2017, Support for same-sex marriage in the USA was 64%, a rapid rise from just 27% in 1996,

6/2015, With same sex marriages still illegal in 14 States of the US, a Supreme Court decision legalised same sex marriages in all parts of the USA.

7 November 2012, Voters in Maryland, Maine and Washington approved same sex marriages.

6 July 2006, New York Court of Appeals ruled that gay marriage was not allowed under State law.

6 September 2005, The Californa Legislature legalised same-sex marriage. Three weeks later the State Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, vetoed the Bill.

17 May 2004, Massachusetts legalised same-sex marriages, in compliance with a ruling from the state�s Supreme Court.(Goodridge vs. Department of Public Health).

25 April 2000, The State of Vermont passed the HB847 law legalising civil unions for same-sex couples

10 February 1998, Voters in Maine repealed a gay rights law made in 1997, becoming the first US State to abandon such a law.

21 September 1996, The USA prohibited same-sex marriages under the Defence of Marriage Act.

14 October 1979, The first National March in Washington DC, USA, for Lesbian and Gay Rights, had over 100,000 marchers.

3 May 1989, Christine Jorgensen, first openly trans-sexual (male to female) person in the USA, died.

27 November 1978, Harvey Milk, first openly gay ,man to hold public office in the USA, on the California Board of Governors, was assassinated.

1973, The American Psychiatric Association now removed �homosexuality� from its list of mental illnesses.

1970, The first Gay Pride march was held in New York,

28 June 1969, A riot began when police raided the Stonewall Inn, a venue frequented by homosexuals, in Greenwich Village, New York City.

1966, Illinois became the first US State to legalise sodomy.

31 October 1940, Craig Rodwell, gay rights activist, was born in Chicago, Illinois (died 1993).

30 May 1926, Christine Jorgensen, US campaigner for trans-gender rights, was born,


Derogatory terms being coined against homosexuals, and their outlawal.

8 December 2004, The French National Assembly passed a law making sexist or homophobic insults punishable by a 15,000 Euro fine.

1977, The term woofter/wooftah appeared, a relatively late pejorative phrase for homosexual men (see 1910, poofter).

1933, The term �gay� came to mean �homosexual�. It had meant �sexually dissolute� since the 1600s; the shift to homosexuality may have begun with male prostitutes catering to homosexual men.

1931, The term �dike� for a female homosexual was first used. An earlier version, �bulldike�, was in use from 1921. It may derive from �morphadike�, a US version of �hermaphrodite�.

1929, Another derogatory term for male homosexuals, �pansy� appeared. The najme of a delicate flower, it had connotations of being effeminate.

1925, The term �Lesbian� began to replace the term �Sapphism� for female hoimosexuality (both terms in use from the 1890s). Both words derive from the Classical Greek female poet Sappho of the island of Lesbos.

1924, The term �queen� for the effeminate party in a male homosexual relationship came into use.

1914, First use of the derogatory term �faggot� for a male homosexual, in the USA. Derives from its earlier use to denote an unpleasant old woman. Shortened to �fag� in the 1920s.

1922, The noun �queer� for a homosexualcame into use in the USA. It became an insult in the mid-20th century, and was a taboo word from the 1960s onwards.

1911, First use of the term �transvestismus�, German for �cross dressing�, wearing the clothes of the opposite sex. Initially linked closely to homosexuality, although the two are now seen as separate.

1910, First use of the pejorative term poofter for a homosexual men (derived from poof, an Australian term used back in the 1850s),, see 1977, woofter.

1909, The term �camp� for an outrageously exaggerated style, usually with connotations of male homosexuality., was first used.

1904, First use of the term �nancy� (or �nancy-boy�) as a derogatory term for male homosexuals. Derived from �sissy� (weak, timid, effeminate), which became �Miss Nancy�, the term had largely died out by the end of the 1970s.


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