Before and during the formation of the United Kingdom, Christianity and homosexuality were seen to clash. Same-sex sexual activity was characterised as "sinful" and, under the Buggery Act 1533, was outlawed and punishable by death. LGBT rights first came to prominence following the decriminalisation of sexual activity between men, in 1967 in England and Wales, and later in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Sexual activity between women was never subject to the same legal restriction.
Since the turn of the 21st century, LGBT rights have increasingly strengthened in support. Some discrimination protections had existed for LGBT people since 1999, but were extended to all areas under the Equality Act 2010. A ban on LGBT individuals serving openly in the the armed forces was officially lifted in 2016, though a policy of non-enforcement had been in place since 2000. The age of consent was equalised at 16, regardless of sexual orientation, in 2001. Having been introduced in the 1980s, Section 28, which prohibited the "promotion of homosexuality" by schools and local authorities, was repealed in 2003. Transgender people have had the ability to apply to change their legal gender since 2005. The same year, same-sex couples were granted the right to enter into a civil partnership, a similar legal structure to marriage, and also to adopt in England and Wales. Scotland later followed on adoption rights for same-sex couples in 2009, and Northern Ireland in 2013. Same-sex marriage was legalised in England and Wales, and Scotland in 2014, and in Northern Ireland in 2020.