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LGBT History in Manchester, UK

Updated on March 3, 2014
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Matt is an avid traveller and self-confessed 'man of the world'. He is passionate about his home city, Manchester, and about travelling.

Police with Pride

Greater Manchester Police leaflet - Manchester Pride 2013
Greater Manchester Police leaflet - Manchester Pride 2013 | Source

LGBT Manchester

Manchester has a long history of promoting equality and diversity across all equalities groups. Manchester was at the forefront of promoting the rights of LGBT people in the UK and continues to be the home to a thriving gay village and one of the largest LGBT communities in the UK. This hub has a look at some of the historic milestones in the City for LGBT people going back to the early 1980s.


Manchester’s first Equal Opportunities Committee meeting is held. The committee is responsible for developing Manchester’s first Equality and Fairness strategy.


UK's first openly gay mayor candidate Margaret Roff is nominated. This heightens public awareness of the issues. Margaret Roff had been a Manchester Councillor for 3 years in 1985 and had been involved in campaigning for minority rights, especially championing lesbian rights. However, overwhelming attention from the press, much of it derogatory and negative, coupled with the loss of her parents, forced her to withdraw from the nomination. She left Manchester shortly after this period and her short life came to a tragic end in 1987, when, at the age of just 46 years old, Margaret Roff died in a hotel fire in Nicaragua. She had travelled to Nicaragua to help build a hospital in Puerto Cabezas.

Margaret Roff, Manchester City Council

Margaret Roff, Manchester Councillor
Margaret Roff, Manchester Councillor | Source


Manchester is a UK leader in the national campaign to repeal the Governments Section 28 Clause. Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988 caused the controversial addition of Section 2A to the Local Government Act 1986. This amendment stated that a local authority / Council "shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality" or "promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship".Manchester was at the forefront of national campaigns to repeal the amendment staging several memorable demonstrations.

In the same year Manchester City Council publishes and distributes over 6000 leaflets to staff, along with training to ensure the Section 28 Clause does not prevent Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual staff and service users from receiving equal treatment. A purpose built lesbian and gay centre was funded by the city at Sidney Street in Manchester City Centre.

Manchester's Gay Village

Manchester Gay Village
Manchester Gay Village | Source


Manchester supports the set up of supported lodgings service for Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual young people. The following year this service becomes the Albert Kennedy Trust, named after a 16 year old social services care leaver in Manchester. Albert Kennedy died after falling from the top of a multi-storey car park after being chased by a gang of thugs in a car because of his sexuality.

LGBT History in the USA

A Queer History of the United States (ReVisioning American History)
A Queer History of the United States (ReVisioning American History)

A Queer History of the United States is more than a “who’s who” of queer history: it is a book that radically challenges how we understand American history. Drawing upon primary-source documents, literature, and cultural histories, scholar and activist Michael Bronski charts the breadth of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender history, from 1492 to the 1990s.



First Manchester Pride event “The Carnival of Fun”. Throughout the next few years the event would continue to grow and would be known as Mardi Gras. The name of the festival was changed to Manchester Pride in 2003. Whilst the event continues to be very successful in bringing people into the City and benefiting the local economy there has been some unrest in the last few years caused by the relatively low proportion of raised funds making their way back in to LGBT charities. In 2012 around £52,000 (3.7% of funds raised) was paid to charities compared to £127,690 in 2003 when the event was arguably much smaller. In 2013 the amount given charity reduced further to £34,000. It is believed that over the Pride weekend in 2013 a total of circa £25million was brought in to the local economy.

Throughout the 1990s

Manchester provides services to the Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual community through local Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual third sector groups.

Manchester City Council continues to sustain four dedicated Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual officer posts directly involved in policy making and implementation, contributing to the 1992 report ("Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988: a Guide for Workers in the Education Service, produced by Manchester City Council, May 1992.") which proved that Section 28 did not prevent this work. Throughout the whole time that the Section 28 Clause was in law Manchester continued to fight for equal treatment and equal opportunities for all lesbian, gay and bisexual people.


Manchester hosts Europride, a pan-european LGBT festival which takes place in a different European city every year. In 2003 the Section 28 Clause of the Local Government Act is successfully repealed by the Labour Government.

Canal Street, Manchester

Canal Street, Manchester
Canal Street, Manchester | Source


Manchester City Council is ranked #1 Local Authority employer of lesbian, gay and bisexual people in the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index for the fourth year running. Also in 2009 Manchester invites Press for Change to facilitate a seminar on current Transgender issues to key stakeholders within the Council. The event provides a valuable opportunity for Lead Members and Officers of the Council to increase their knowledge and understanding of local and national Transgender issues, which was followed by a series of consultations with the local Trans community to explore the issues further in a local context.

Read more about Alan Turing

Alan Turing: The Enigma
Alan Turing: The Enigma

"A superb biography. . . . Written by a mathematician, it describes in plain language Turing's work on the foundations of computer science and how he broke the Germans' Enigma code in the Second World War. The subtle depiction of class rivalries, personal relationships, and Turing's tragic end are worthy of a novel. But this was a real person. Hodges describes the man, and the science that fascinated him--which once saved, and still influences, our lives."--Margaret Boden, New Scientist



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Manchester opposes anti-LGBT law passed in Russia. Members of a St Petersburg LGBT equality group walk with Manchester City Council in the Pride Parade. Also in 2012 Manchester City Council sponsors the inaugural Alan Turing Memorial Award at the Lesbin and Gay Foundations (LGF) Homo Heroes Awards. Alan Turing was a British mathematician and is perhaps best known for his pioneering work in computer sciences. Turing is widely credited as being the father of computer science and artificial intelligence and the emergence of the early computer models. During the second world war Alan Turing worked for the Government Code and Cypher school where he developed an electromechanical machine that would decipher settings for the enigma machine and allow the Allied Forces to crack the codes used by the Nazis.

However, Alan Turing lived in an age where homosexuality was illegal in the UK. In 1952 he was prosecuted because of his sexuality. He was given the chance to undergo chemical castration rather than a prison sentence. He accepted this course but would only go on to live for another 2 years, dying in 1954 at the age of 41. Alan Turing took his own life.


The worlds first permanent Trans Memorial Garden and Trans Memorial is erected in Sackville Gardens in memory of all those who have lost their lives in their struggle to be accepted.

The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 is passed into law.

Manchester City Council sends Letter to the Governor of St Petersburg urging reconsideration of anti-LGBT law.

Manchester LGBT History Quiz

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