16: Soho Pride

Old Compton Street

You can stand anywhere on Old Compton Street on this last stop but where Frith Street passes through is nearly always a good spot as there's cafes on this crossroad and it's often busy any time of the day.

Surprise! You’re back in the present day. For the last two decades Soho, and especially Old Compton Street, has been at the centre of London’s gay community. Soho looks pretty different from even five years ago. It’s changing rapidly and with it the Queer spaces, where British gay identity was forged, are also disappearing.

But we all know Soho is still a centre for all things gay. From 2003 to 2008, Soho Pride was held here and even though London Pride takes over much more of the Capital now, Soho still plays host to parades and after-parties. Where you’re standing now, could be seen as the final piece in the jigsaw of over a century of fighting for equality.

And what a fight it’s been: today in the UK, LGBTQ people can legally have sex at the same age as straight people, get married, adopt and even join the army. But the battle is not yet over.

In 2015, the UK saw 5,597 hate crimes against LGBTQ people, which was a rise of 22% on the previous year. In June 2016, a homophobic attack on Pulse gay club in Orlando, USA, saw 49 people killed and many more injured. A vigil was organised the following day on Old Compton Street and thousands turned up to fill the entire street along its length and surrounding area.

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It had been 17 years since the attack on Admiral Duncan and despite the many advances the LGBTQ community had made since the start of the 21st century, the attack in Orlando was a reminder of the homophobia still felt in society. It was on these streets, in this place, that people came to show their solidarity.

Past discrimination has meant LGBTQ history has often been hidden, marginalised or suppressed. When we remember these places and their heritage, the places celebrated on this walk, we remember the people who came before us and we don’t forget them. #LoveWins

Political advances of LGBTQ people in the 21st century

  • 2000 - Homosexuals no longer barred from joining the armed forces
  • 2001 - The age of consent for gay men is lowered to 16
  • 2002 - Same-sex couples granted equal rights to adopt
  • 2003 - Illegal to discriminate against lesbians, gay or bisexual people at work
  • 2003 - Section 28 is repealed in England and Wales
  • 2004 - The Civil Partnership Act is passed, giving same-sex couples the same rights as married heterosexual couples
  • 2008 - Treatment of lesbian parents and their children is equalised in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act
  • 2010 - Equality Act makes discrimination against lesbians and gay men in the provision of goods and services illegal
  • 2011 - Department of Health lifts ban on gay men donating blood
  • 2012 - The Protection of Freedoms Act is passed, allowing for historic convictions for consensual gay sex to be removed from criminal records
  • 2014 - Same-sex marriage becomes legal in England and Wales
  • 2015 - Royal Vauxhall Tavern became first ever building to be given listed statute based on its LGBT history