In the same year as the Human Rights Act came into law across the UK, seven gay and bisexual men — aged between 17 and 55 — were convicted of gross indecency. Known as the Bolton 7, their crime was participation in consensual group sex — it was illegal for more than two men to have sex together — and sex with someone under the age of consent, which stood at 18 for gay men. Their sentences included suspended prison sentences, fines, and enrollment on the Sex Offenders Register. Both activities were legal for heterosexuals.
It was 1998 and as well as an unequal age of consent and the fact gay men were still being convicted of gross indecency (despite the supposed decriminalisation in 1967), the infamous Section 28 was still in place and LGBT people had no discrimination protections, couldn’t fight in the military and could be fired from their jobs. Homophobic and transphobic abuse, verbal or physical, were not deemed hate crimes. To be transgender was to be legally recognized as mentally ill.