365 days to Brexit

A year today the UK will leave the European Union. We still can’t know for sure what the long-term impact will be for bi and LGBT rights but it isn’t looking good so far.

Many legal reforms have come about because of European rulings – from the decriminalisation of sex between men in Scotland in 1980 and Northern Ireland in 1982, to the equalisation of the age of consent in 2000.

UK courts have tended to have to be over-ruled by European counterparts to achieve progress towards equality. Often this has been played in the press by the governments of the time, telling reactionary papers that they are being forced by Europe while trumpeting to progressive reporters that the step forwards is all thanks to the government.

Since the Brexit referendum, we have not seen laws going backwards, but there have been the first signs that reforms to widen equality may slow with the proposals for reform of the gender recognition law coming under widespread attack. Confusingly, the breakdown of devolved government in Northern Ireland has also increased the chance of same-sex marriage at last being legalised in the six counties.