LGBTI+ History Month; a Scottish reading list

As part of our celebration of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex plus (LGBTI+) History Month, we have put together an official publications reading list which highlights the history of LGBTI+ rights in Scotland.

As a whole, the materials provide a valuable historical and sociological primary resource on the changing attitudes towards LGBTI+ issues through the years. The list illustrates the type of material available in the Maps, Official Publications and Statistics Unit on Level 7 of the library.

Selected legislation and consultations

Section 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1885

Section 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1885 (Click to enlarge)

1885: Male same-sex sexual acts are a criminal offence carrying a prison sentence. Hard labour was not applied to the sentence in Scotland.  Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885, s. 11. (c. 69). (Also known as the Labouchere Amendment).

House of Lords question regarding anomoly in law between Scotland and England, 8th October 1976

Government response to a question in the House of Lords by Lord Boothby regarding the anomoly in law regarding “homosexual offences committed in private” between England and Scotland. 8th October 1976.

1976: The Labouchere Amendment is re-enacted in Scotland. In 1957, the Wolfenden Report recommends that same-sex sexual acts in private with males over the age of 21 should be legalised. In 1967, English law is amended to this effect. The Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 1976 means that male same-sex acts continue to be illegal in Scotland. Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 1976, s. 7. (c. 67)

1977: Same-sex marriage is prevented under the legal impediment clause; “there is a legal impediment to marriage where both parties are of the same sex.” Marriage (Scotland) Act 1977, s. 5(4)(e). (c. 15).

1980: Male same-sex sexual acts are legalised 13 years after they have been legalised in England; “A homosexual act in private shall not be an offence provided that the parties consent thereto and have attained the age of twenty-one years.”Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 1980, s. 80(1) (c. 62).

Section 28 Local Government Act 1988

Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988 c.9 inserted a new section 2A into the Local Government Act 1986 c. 10

1988: The education of LGBTI+ issues is prevented by section 28 of the Local Government Act 1998, which includes a “Prohibition on promoting homosexuality by teaching or by publishing material.” Local Government Act 1988, s. 28 (c. 9)

1994: The age of consent for homosexual acts is lowered to 18. The age of consent for heterosexual acts is 16. Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, s 145(2). (c. 33)

2000: The prohibition on the promotion of homosexuality by teaching or by published materials is repealed by the Scottish Parliament, allowing schools to educate children on LGBTI+ issues. Ethical Standards in Public Life etc. (Scotland) Act 2000, Sch. 4, para. 1. (asp 7)

2000: The age of consent for “homosexual acts” is lowered to 16, and becomes equal to the age of consent for heterosexual acts. Sexual Offences Amendment Act 2000, s. 1(3). (c. 44).

2003: Consultation paper – Civil Partnership Registration: A legal status for committed same-sex couples in Scotland (and online)

2004: Same-sex relationships are recognised with civil partnerships, which create similar rights to marriage, however do not allow same-sex marriage. Civil Partnership Act 2004. (c. 33)

Gender Recognition Act 2004 c. 7

2004: Transsexual people obtain legal recognition of their acquired gender through an application for a gender recognition certificate. Gender Recognition Act 2004. (c. 7)

2007: Same-sex couples are allowed to adopt children, as couples who are “civil partners of each other”, or “living together as if civil partners” are included in the act. Adoption and Children (Scotland) Act 2007, s. 29(3). (asp 4)

2011: Consultation Paper – The Registration of Civil Partnerships Same Sex Marriage

2012: Consultation paper – The Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill

2014: Same-sex marriage is legalised, whilst allowing religious groups to choose whether they will hold same-sex marriage ceremonies. Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014 Pt 1 c.1 s.2(a) (asp 5)

  • Where a civil partnership is changed to a marriage, the marriage date is retrospectively applied as the date of registration of the civil partnership.


2015: Review of civil partnership: a consultation by the Scottish Government “about the future of civil partnership in Scotland. The consultation seeks views on three options: no change, no new civil partnerships after a certain date in the future, or introducing opposite sex civil partnership.”

2016: Same-sex sexual activity can no longer be used as grounds for discharging a member of the armed forces with the repeal of sections 146(4) and 147(3) of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994. Armed Forces Act 2016, s. 14 (c. 21)

Acts of Parliament are available as enacted in paper, or as amended online either on Westlaw (UofG staff and students) or on

Reports, Papers, Government Policy and Research Briefings


Social Attitude surveys

Scottish Social Attitudes Survey

This is a selected list from the wealth of official materials related to LGBTI+ issues. If you would like more information on any specific area or on how laws are passed, get in touch with us at the Maps, Official Publications and Statistics Unit on Level 7 of the library. We’re open Monday to Friday, 9 am to 5 pm, and can be contacted on 0141 330 6740 or


Ferguson, P. W. (2003) Case Comment Homosexual Offences. S.L.T. 36, 273-277

National Records of Scotland (2017) Guidance on changing a Civil Partnership registered in Scotland to a Marriage.

Categories: Library, Official Publications

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