The Road to Equality: The Struggle of Gay Men and Lesbians to Achieve Equal Rights Before the Law




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British Journal of Community Justice



Peer reviewed



This article considers the legislative journey toward equality which in March 2014 saw the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 giving lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender people (LGBT) almost parity with heterosexuals before the law. The major focus is the exploration of key legislation that has been in place and the impact this has had on the LGBT community, particularly gay men; a history that is sometimes forgotten.

Lesbians have not been subject to the law in the same way as gay men although it is clear that the impact of legislation against men has had consequences for women in terms of for example, inheritance, marriage and indeed the way they lived their lives. I will consider why lesbians have been almost invisible before the law and how their behaviour was policed.

A theme of the work is that legislation not only defines legality but it also seems to be important in terms of setting out a state's attitude to equality and particular groups. It can signal the move from state homophobia to state recognition. At the same time the changing of attitudes, relationships of power and inequality take more to shift than legislation alone can achieve.

Finally, I will consider if the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 is a step in the right direction on the road to LGBT equality. Have the latest developments in legislation brought genuine equality and choice within a traditionally patriarchal society or will the LGBT community become just another consumer group with the ‘pink pound’, now to be sold ‘gay weddings’?



LGBT and the Criminal Justice System


Wilson, K. (2014) The Road to Equality: The Struggle of Gay Men, Lesbians and Transgender People to Achieve Equal Rights Before the Law. British Journal of Community Justice. 12 (3), pp. 81-92


Research Institute

Institute for Research in Criminology, Community, Education and Social Justice