BBC archive release charts gay rights movement

By agency reporter
October 2, 2010

The BBC Archive has released a new collection of material charting the emergence of the gay rights movement in the UK.

This collection, released through the BBC Archive website, brings together TV and radio programmes from news bulletins, documentaries and current affairs programmes, which chart the political and social change in attitudes to homosexuality over the past 50 years. The programmes in the collection feature noted gay rights campaigners including Sir Ian McKellen, Angela Mason of equality charity Stonewall, Peter Tatchell, founder of Outrage! and the MEP and former EastEnders actor, Michael Cashman.

The launch of the collection coincides with the release of BBC research findings into the portrayal of lesbian, gay and bisexual people across the BBC's services.

Julie Rowbotham, Executive Producer, BBC Archive said: "The programmes in this collection offer a revealing – although at times uncomfortable – insight into how legislation changed over the decades and what effect this had on people's lives.

"This collection is a particularly interesting tie-in with the BBC's research, Portrayal of Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual People on the BBC, and should be a useful resource for anyone who is interested in finding out more about the campaign for equal rights."

Programmes include a press conference from 1957 about the Wolfenden Report, which first recommended the decriminalisation of homosexuality, and a Today interview on Radio 4 with MP Leo Abse, whose 1967 bill led to the decriminalisation of homosexuality in England and Wales. Two editions from the ground-breaking documentary series Man Alive look at the lives of gay men and women in the late Sixties, while experts debate the pros and cons of the programmes in a follow-up panel discussion, Late Night Line Up.

Other programmes in the collection cover the struggle of coming out, the age of consent, civil partnerships and the protests against Section 28 – the controversial government bill that banned councils from being able to "promote homosexuality" through schools.

Many of the programmes reflect the language common at the time when they were first broadcast and illustrate the changing attitudes in media portrayal towards gay and lesbian relationships from the fifties to present day.

The collection can be found on the BBC Archive website at


Keywords:LGBT | gay rights | bbc
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