LGBT History Month is a chance to celebrate key moments in the history of LGBTQI+ people in the UK, but also a time to reflect and keep sounding the alarm on the discrimination and challenges that LGBTQI+ people face just to be who they are.

This year, we wanted to share the beginnings of Rainbow Migration and the first big immigration rights achievement that we were able to celebrate back in 1997, while also reminding everyone that a cruel #AntiRefugeeBill is being passed through Parliament at the moment. If it becomes law, more LGBTQI+ people will be refused sanctuary here and sent back to countries where they will be persecuted and their lives will be at risk. Learn more about the dangerous Bill and how you can take action today.


The creation of Rainbow Migration, 1993

Rainbow Migration was created in 1993 as the Stonewall Immigration Group by same sex couples and their lawyers to share information, campaign for change and support lesbians and gay men wanting to remain together in the UK on the basis of their relationships.

Organised more effectively as a group, more and more people made applications for a partner to be granted leave to remain in the United Kingdom.

The effort and resilience of couples prepared to fight difficult legal battles, together with lawyers who used every available legal and political method to pursue their clients’ cases resulted in a number of significant successes.


A decisive moment in 1994

In 1994, the Immigration Appeal Tribunal decided that a parallel should be drawn between the way in which unmarried opposite-sex partners and unmarried same-sex partners were treated. From that moment on, despite resistance, there were several more successful applications by same-sex couples.


Campaigning for change: 1994 – 1997

Rainbow Migration campaigned in the run up to the May 1997 general election, successfully obtaining the commitment of the Shadow Home Secretary that if elected, a Labour government would recognise same-sex relationships for immigration purposes.


In 1997, same-sex partners are recognised for the first time in British law

In October 1997, the Unmarried Partners Concession was announced. It was the very first positive legal recognition of same sex relationships in British law. The concession made it possible for same-sex couples to make an application for the foreign partner to remain in the United Kingdom if they had lived together for four years.


Equal immigration rights, 2000

In October 2000, the unmarried partners concession became an Immigration Rule, which is of far more legal significance than a concession.


Civil Partnership Act, 2004

Finally, in November 2004 the Civil Partnership Act was passed. Once this legislation came into effect in December 2005, it ensured equal immigration rights for same-sex couples.


Expanding our area of work

After this victory, at Rainbow Migration we expanded our area of work to support all LGBTQI+ people who wanted to stay in the UK because they were afraid of persecution in their home countries.


If you’d like to find our more about us, you can learn more about the work that we do or the ways in which we support LGBTQI+ people seeking asylum.