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Timeline of LGBT history in Manchester

This is a timeline of notable events in the history of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in Manchester.

19th century

  • 1880: The Manchester City Police raid a fancy dress ball which was taking place at the Temperance Hall in Hulme. 47 men were arrested and charged with soliciting and inciting each other to commit “improper actions.”

20th century

1900s to 1950s

  • 1940s: The Union pub, now The New Union, plays host to drag shows during World War II. They were popular with American troops stationed nearby.
  • 1952: Alan Turing is prosecuted for being in a relationship with another man. He commits suicide in 1954.


  • 1960s: Manchester’s gay scene is based in an area between Albert Square and Deansgate with pubs such as the Rockingham and Rouge being popular although The Union continues to be frequented by the gay community.
  • 1964: The North West Homosexual Law Reform Committee is founded by Labour councillor Allan Horsfall to campaign for the recommendations of The Wolfenden Report to be brought into law. The first meeting is held in Manchester. Three years later, the partial decriminalisation of sex between men over the age of 21 took place. The North West branch of the national Homosexual Law Reform Committee became the national Campaign for Homosexual Equality in 1969.
  • 1964: Rose Robertson set up Parents Enquiry, the predecessor of FFLAG


  • 1973: The Manchester Gay Alliance is formed by the University's Lesbian & Gay Society, CHE, a lesbian group and transvestite transsexual group.
  • 1975: The Manchester Gay Alliance opens the Manchester Gay Switchboard to provide support and information to callers. It originally operated in the basement of the University of Manchester. After receiving a council grant in 1978, the scheme found a new home on Bloom Street. By 1990, the switchboard teamed up with The Lesbian Link Helpline to form the Manchester Lesbian and Gay Switchboard.


  • 1984: Manchester City Council forms the Equal Opportunities Committee. The numerous equality posts created included a Gay Men’s Officer and a Lesbian Officer, first occupied by Paul Fairweather and Maggie Turner respectively. 
  • 1985: Manchester Pride is born following a £1,700 grant from the Manchester City council to put on a two-week celebration, complete with a huge banner adorning Oxford Street.[1]
  • 1986: Europe’s first purpose-built Gay Centre built in Manchester when Manchester City Council approved funding of £118,000. The centre, on Sidney Street, is still serving the community today.
  • 1987: Greater Manchester Police launches what will become the UK-wide Operation Spanner police investigation into same-sex male sadomasochism.[2][3][4]
  • 1988: A huge anti-Section 28 protest is held in Manchester in which over 20,000 take to the streets to let their disquiet be heard. As a result, the Council produced over 6000 leaflets that set out how they aimed to prevent LGBT staff and service users from receiving unequal treatment. 
  • 1989: The Northwest Campaign for Lesbian & Gay Equality organises Manchester's "Celebration of Gay and Lesbian Diversity" Love Rights. It consisted of a music festival at the Free Trade Hall and a political march starting at All Saints Park culminating in a rally with stalls in Albert Square. The main focus of the gay rights movement at the time was opposing Section 28.


  • 1990: Manto opens as the first bar in the area not to be hidden away. Instead the front of the bar featured windows, allowing passers-by to see in. The building was the first in the area to be clad with large plate glass windows.
  • 1991: Village Charity established and commences the festival then known as Manchester Mardi Gras, 'The Festival of Fun' it raised £15,000.[1][5]
  • 1992: Nightclub Cruz 101 opens.
  • 1992: Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays is launched.
  • 1994: Healthy Gay Manchester is formed.
  • 1996: The first Poptastic club night takes place in Manchester.
  • 1997: Mardi Gras achieves notable popularity with people of all backgrounds in society.[6]
  • 1998:
  • 1999: Queer as Folk, a drama series based on Manchester’s gay scene, is broadcast on Channel 4.

21st century


  • 2000:
    • The Lesbian & Gay Foundation is formed following the merger of Healthy Gay Manchester and Manchester Lesbian & Gay Switchboard.
    • Mardi Gras is renamed Gayfest.
    • Essential nightclub opens.
  • 2002: Mardi Gras event almost cancelled following a row between Greater Manchester Police and organisers over drinking bylaws and crowd safety.[7] The event went ahead and attracted 100,000 visitors.[1][8]
  • 2003: Manchester hosts Europride and for the first time, the entire gay village area is gated off throughout the August bank holiday weekend with an entrance fee charged to get into the event.[9] and at the final closing ceremony, it was announced that the event would now be known as "Manchester Pride"[1]
  • 2005: Manchester's gay and inclusive football team Village Manchester joins the GFSN National League.
  • 2006: LGBT radio station Gaydio makes its first broadcast, transmitting for two weeks ahead of, and during, the 2006 Manchester Pride festival.


  • 2010: Gaydio commences full-time broadcasting after being given a community licence by regulator Ofcom.[10]
  • 2012:
    • 1-3 June – Manchester hosts the Bingham Cup, an international rugby union tournament featuring gay rugby union teams from across the world.[11]
    • 31 December – Legends nightclub closes when the building which hosts it is demolished to make way for a hotel. In the past the venue had hosted the legendary Twisted Wheel Club.
  • 2015: April – The Lesbian & Gay Foundation changes its name to the LGBT Foundation.[12]
  • 2016: Carl Austin-Behan becomes Manchester’s first openly gay Lord Mayor.[13]
  • 2019: For the first time, elements of the Manchester Pride four-day August bank holiday festival are held outside of the Village when the music stage is moved to the site of the former Manchester Mayfield railway station.[14] 'The Big Weekend' has been replaced by a ticketed event for 2019, with an entry fee of £71.[15][16][17]


  1. ^ a b c d Jennifer, Williams (25 August 2012). "What is the point of Manchester Pride? Thirty years of partying and politics... but the battle isn't over yet". Retrieved 13 June 2019.
  2. ^ Regina v Ian Wilkinson, Peter John Grindley, Colin Laskey, Anthony Joseph Brown, Graham William Cadman, Roland Leonard Jaggard, Saxon Lucas, Donald Peter Anderson (and others) (Central Criminal Court 1990).
  3. ^ "Freedom of Information Request". Metropolitan Police.
  4. ^ Hames, Michael. (2000). Dirty squad : the story of the Obscene Publications Branch. New York: Little, Brown. ISBN 0316853216. OCLC 44101472.
  5. ^ "Manchester LGBT History". Manchester City Council. Manchester City Council. Retrieved 13 June 2019.
  6. ^ Tony, Naylor (17 August 1997). "Manchester's Mardi Gras festival next weekend, and the Canal Street 'gay village', testify to a vibrant hedonism". The Independent. Retrieved 12 June 2019.
  7. ^ News report about the cancelling of Mardi Gras 2002
  8. ^ "Mardi Gras show goes on". BBC. BBC News. 22 August 2002. Retrieved 12 June 2019.
  9. ^ McDowell, Jordan (2011-08-31). "Jackie Crozier Interview". Manchester Confidential. Retrieved 2012-09-04. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  10. ^ Manchester’s gay radio station granted five-year licence
  11. ^ Manchester to host gay rugby world cup
  12. ^, Lesbian and Gay foundation change their name to celebrate diversity.
  13. ^ - Nine moments that advanced Manchester’s LGBTQ+ march 27 August 2017
  14. ^ Headline artists announced for this years Manchester Pride
  15. ^ Parkinson, Hannah Jane. "Manchester Pride is charging £71 a ticket this year. That's a bit rich". The Guardian. The Guardian. Retrieved 13 June 2019.
  16. ^ "Pride 2019". Manchester Pride. ManchesterPride. Retrieved 13 June 2019.
  17. ^ Hunt, El. "Priced out of Pride: why the Manchester event's ticket hike is just the tip of the money-making iceberg". NME. NME. Retrieved 13 June 2019.