The miners’ strike and gay rights in the UK in 1980’s

23 Apr

In 1984 over half of the UKs 187 000 mineworkers were on strike because the government was going to close 20 uneconomic pits, putting 20,000 miners out of work. The UK Miner’s strike lasted from 1884-1985 and affected the British coal industry and the rest of the society. National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) considered the strike to be unconstitutional; the BBC described as “the most bitter industrial dispute in British history”.

miners

The strike ended on 3 March 1985. As a result of the disagreements, the miners went back to work, and it was a defining moment in British industrial relations and it weakened the British trade union movement. Fun fact: another outcome of the strike was the world’s best musicals, “Billy Elliot”! (No offense Cats, Mamma Mia, Rock of Ages and The Lion King).

Margaret “Maggi” Thatcher was Britain’s Prime Minister during this time period, representing the conservative party, from 1979-1990. She has been one of history’s most controversial leaders. She was loved and hated while she lead the country to either heaven or hell. During her time alive, she did several thing to change history, 5 of them are:

  1. She was the first female Prime Minister, in the UK
  2. She created and popularized “Thatcherism.”
  3. She led Britain in the Falklands War.
  4. She helped end the Cold War
  5. She won the respect of her critics

Gay rights in the UK during the 1980’s

The 1980’s where a year of setbacks for the gay community in the UK. The Thatcher government created Clause 28 of the Local Government Act, making it illegal for local authorities to support anything that could possibly promote homosexual relationships. The fear of HIV and AIDS dominated the society and they did not have a lot of knowledge about how the disease actually spreads. People were scared and when they read about HIV in the papers the disease and the gay community were often mentioned in the same articles. This contributed to a general fear of the gay community and it was not easy to be openly gay during this time period. In1985 a new law made it illegal “to commit an act of gross indecency with another male, in public or private.” People were prosecuted for homosexual acts in 1985 and sentenced to imprisonment.

The writer Oscar Wilde were sentenced to two years in prison. But Wilde’s literary reputation saved him and he became an inspiration to several generations of gay men who were forced to hid their sexuality.

“Pride”

Today we watched the movie “Pride”, about the miner strike in the UK from 1984-95 and the gay and lesbian community during this time. The movie is about a group of gays and lesbians who sees that the minors who are on strike are being treated just like them by the police. They want to help and starts up an organization called lesbian and gay support the minors or LGSM.

It all starts during the pride parade in London in 1984, a small group of people chooses to show their support to the minors during the parade. They are walking with buckets and raise money as they go. A lot of people are against the gay community, but they manage to raise over 200pounds to support the minors families. The group identifies a small village in Wales who wants to accept their help. They went off to make their donation in person. As the strike drags on for almost a year, the LGSM and the minors with their families discover that standing together makes them the strongest union of all.

pridepride 2

Even though the two groups faces several difficult challenges during their time together, they manage to stay supportive of each other. The LGSM had a hard time in London and in the small town in Wales. One time someone threw briks and fireworks into the house where they were having a meeting. And the minors got in trouble for excepting the help they were getting from the LGSM.

What amazes me with this movie is that it is inspired by a true story. It is inspiring to see how two completely different groups of society can come together and show solidarity and work together towards a set goal.

Sources:

http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2014/06/how-miners-strike-1984-85-changed-britain-ever

http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/march/12/newsid_2540000/2540175.stm

http://archive.museumoflondon.org.uk/RWWC/Themes/1161/

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One Response to “The miners’ strike and gay rights in the UK in 1980’s”

  1. Ann S. Michaelsen 15/05/2015 at 09:53 #

    Very informative post about the movie and the issues they cover here. Like you fun facts and the mention of Oscar Wilde!

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