Legislation pre twentieth century
1290 First mention in English common law of a punishment for homosexuality
1300 Treatise in England prescribed that sodomites should be burned alive
1533 Buggery Act introduced by Henry VIII brought sodomy within the scope of statute law for the first time and made it punishable by hanging.
1861 Offences Against the Person Act formally abolished the death penalty for buggery in England and Wales.
1885 Labouchere amendment passed 7 August (Section 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act). Created the offence of ‘gross indecency’ and thus became the first specifically anti-homosexual act. It became known as the ‘blackmailer’s charter’. (In 1895 Oscar Wilde was sentenced to two years prison with hard labour under the 1885 Act).
It should be noted that because Queen Victoria could not imagine the possibility of two women engaging in sexual relations, there was no legal equivalent against lesbians.