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Gay UK: Love, Law and Liberty, opens at the British Library

Words by Marvin Maddix

 

Gay Liberation Front Manifesto, London, 1971 (c) Gay Liberation Front 

 

 

A new exhibition, Gay UK: Love, Law and Liberty, opens at the British Library tomorrow.

Gay UK: Love, Law and Liberty explores gay lives through personal testimony, cultural expression and legal reform, from the 1895 trial of Oscar Wilde to the posthumous pardoning of historical homosexual offences this year.  The free exhibition, hosted in the Library’s Entrance Hall Gallery, marks the 50th anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act 1967, which enacted the partial decriminalisation of male homosexuality in England and Wales.

Spanning a century of social and legislative change in Britain, Gay UK: Love, Law and Liberty considers how gay men and women have been represented and how they have sought to describe and define themselves, from the repressive decades of the first half of the twentieth century to the on-going campaign for full equality which continues today.

From original manuscripts and rare printed items to striking campaign material and unique oral history recordings, this will be the first time these items have been on display together, showcasing the wealth and range of material in the Library’s heritage and contemporary collections.

 

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