Thousands of gay and bisexual men in England and Wales are beingoffered pardons for sexual offences which have now been abolished.
That’s because gay sex between men in England and Wales was treated as a crime until 1967.
The law was not changed in Scotland until 1980, or in Northern Ireland until 1982.
It means that when your parents and grandparents were young, being gay meant living a secret life.
There are lots of other freedoms we take for granted in the UK today
It took until 2001 for the age of consent for gay men to be lowered from 21 to 16 in England, Scotland, and Wales.
In Northern Ireland it wasn’t changed to 16 until 2009.
Gay people in the UK can still face extreme prejudice and violence in 2016, but they are free to love who they want and are protected by law.
- Until 1861, gay sex between men was punishable by death in Britain
- Between 1861 and 1967 gay men could be sent to prison
- It was never illegal for gay women to have sex
Today, the government has pardoned all men punished for having (what is now considered legal) sex with another man.
Although some men haverejected the offer on the grounds that they have nothing to be “pardoned for” and would rather get an apology.
Until 1965 you could be executed in the UK
James Pratt and John Smith were the last two men to be executed in the UK for having gay sex in 1835.
But criminals were still being executed until 1965 in Great Britain (1973 in Northern Ireland) for murder.
And as recently as 1998 someone found guilty of committing treason in the UK could, in theory, face the death sentence.
Until 1986 you could be hit by your school teacher
You probably weren’t hit by a teacher in school, but there’s a good chance your parents were.
It was legal for a teacher to hit children in the UK until 1986 in schools that received some or all of their funding from the government.
In privately funded schools, however, it remained legal until 1998 in England and Wales, 2000 in Scotland and 2003 in Northern Ireland