History of British social movements Part 6

This is the sixth part of a series of posts on the history of social movements in Britain. It includes 3 social movements: the LGBTQ+ movements, the Migrants and Refugee movement, and the National Unemployed Workers’ Movement (NUWM).

See a previous post that explains what social movements are.

Here is a list of the social movements covered in this series so far.

Part 1: anti-austerity movement; alter/anti-globalization, Global Justice, anti-capitalist Movement; anti-austerity movement: anti-racist movements; anti-fascists; anti-slavery/abolition Movement

Part 2: Community movements; Disability Movement

Part 3: environment movement; feminist/women movement

Part 4: Health care movements, Housing movements

Part 5: Labour and Trade Union Movement, Land Movements

LGBTQ+ movements

There are several histories and timelines of LGBT and LGBTQ groups and rights gained. [1]

This chapter from a book gives a good history of the LGB movement in Britain from 1945-2000s.

Here is a Timeline of LGBT history in Manchester. Here is a list of LGBT-related organizations and conferences. There are several gay rights protests listed in this dataset.

I have split the LGBTQ movement into 8 phases

  1. the late 1800s – 1945
  2. Homophile movement 1945–1969
  3. Gay Liberation Movement 1969–1974
  4. Growth of lesbian feminist movement 1974-1980s
  5. AIDS Pandemic 1983-2000
  6. Tory Section 28 1980s
  7. LGB laws and rights 1990s – 2000s
  8. Trans liberation movement

Phase 1 late 1800s – 1945

from the 1870s there was a secret British society called the “Order of Chaeronea” that campaigned for the legalization of homosexuality. Read more here. There was the first homosexual movement in Germany from the late 1800s until 1933.

Phase 2 Homophile movement 1945–1969

Following the end of the Second World War, homosexual rights groups formed in many Western countries. These groups usually preferred the term ‘homophile’ to homosexual, emphasizing love over sex. The Wolfenden Report was published in Britain in 1957, after well-known men’s public convictions for homosexuality. The Homosexual Law Reform Society was formed in 1958 in response (British Social Movements since 1945, p10). The Wolfenden Report led to the Sexual Offences Act 1967, which decriminalized homosexual acts between two men over 21 years of age in private in England and Wales. Read more here.

The North West Homosexual Law Reform Committee was set up in 1964, by Allan Horsfall and friends:

“Later the North West Committee was transformed into the Campaign for Homosexual Equality (CHE), which was the largest LGBT organisation there has ever been in the UK, with more than 5,000 members and 120 local groups all over the country when it was at its biggest.” [2]

Phase 3 Gay Liberation Movement 1969–1974

The new radicalism of the Gay Liberation Movement from 1969 is linked to the Stonewall riots of 1969 in New York, when a group of gay men, lesbians, drag queens and transgender women at a bar in New York City resisted a police raid.

The UK GLM had its first meeting in 1970 in London. From 1971, GLM were holding weekly meetings, had published a Manifesto and had carried out a series of high-profile direct actions. GLM held a conference in 1972 in Birmingham. By 1974, internal disagreements resulted in the movement splitting. Read more here. See endnote [3] for several further resources on the 1970s Gay Liberation Movement.

This article describes how in the 1970s “pioneering gay activists in the US and Britain saw the fight against homophobia as part of a much broader struggle – one which linked Pride to the cause of liberating the world’s oppressed peoples.”

In 1972 the first Pride march took place in London. This article describes the radical origins of Pride in the UK. The 1970s saw new organisations formed to support LGBT+ people. London Friend was established in 1972 to support the health and mental wellbeing of the LGBT community in and around London. In 1974 Switchboard was established to provide support and information.

Phase 4 growth of lesbian feminist movement 1974-1980s

From the mid-1970s, bisexuals became more visible in the LGBT rights movement. In 1974, Maureen Colquhoun came out as the first Lesbian Member of Parliament (MP) for the Labour Party in the UK. When elected she was married in a heterosexual marriage. Read more here and see ‘The Lesbian Revolution: Lesbian Feminism in the UK 1970-1990’ by Sheila Jeffreys.

There were other developments in the LGBT movement. In 1975, the groundbreaking film portraying homosexual gay icon Quentin Crisp’s life, The Naked Civil Servant, was transmitted by Thames Television for the British Television channel ITV. The British journal Gay Left also began publication. After British Home Stores sacked an openly gay trainee, Tony Whitehead, a national campaign subsequently picketed their stores in protest. [4]

Phase 5 AIDS Pandemic 1983-2000

A new era of the gay rights movement began in the 1980s with the emergence of AIDS. As many gay men became seriously ill and died, with many lesbian activists becoming their caregivers, the leadership of many organizations was decimated. Other organizations shifted their energies to focus their efforts on AIDS. [5]

From the Wikipedia page on the LGBT movement:

“This era saw a resurgence of militancy with direct action groups like AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP), formed in 1987, as well as its offshoots Queer Nation (1990) and the Lesbian Avengers (1992). Some younger activists, seeing gays and lesbians as increasingly normative and politically conservative, began using queer as a defiant statement of all sexual minorities and gender variant people—just as the earlier liberationists had done with gay. Less confrontational terms that attempt to reunite the interests of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people also became prominent, including various acronyms like LGBT, LGBTQ, and LGBTI, where the Q and I stand for queer or questioning and intersex, respectively.”

Here is an article from 2021 remembering the AIDS crisis.

Phase 6 Tory Section 28 1980s

From a book chapter by Kollman and Waites on the UK LGB movement:

“Margaret Thatcher and the Conservative Party’s emphasis on traditional family values after their election in 1979 further narrowed the opportunities available to LGB activists to participate in decision-making. The onset of the HIV-AIDS crisis and the Thatcher government’s slow response, however, did a great deal to politicize gay and lesbian people in the UK in the mid 1980s. LGB groups started to put greater emphasis on rights politics as the need for legal reform became more urgent. Many activists turned towards Labour-controlled city councils to have their voices heard and a number of councils in large metropolitan areas began to implement anti-discrimination policies that included sexual orientation. These local political victories, along with growing hysteria over the portrayal of homosexual lifestyles in education materials, moved the Thatcher government to support the infamous Section 28 of the Local Government Act of 1988, which mandated that local governments “shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality” or “promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship.” Section 28 has often been seen as an attempt by the right to foster a less open type of LGB politics in which gay men and lesbians were encouraged to remain largely closeted to gain social acceptance” [6]

The UK charity Stonewall was established in 1989 to campaign against Section 28. [7] Here is a short video on life under Section 28. Here is a recent article on Section 28 and its impact decades later.

The 1980s also saw the London Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM) group formed in July 1984 to support Welsh miners in the miners’ strike. Read more here. Read details of how the film based on these events was made here. And here is a related article on gay communism.

Phase 7 LGB laws and rights 1990s – 2000s

Barry Adam describes this period:

“the simultaneous queering of the younger gay and lesbian world along with a significant commercialization of the ‘scene.’ More or less corresponding to a new generation of gays and lesbians, this continues today. Significant widespread acceptance was symbolized in 1997 by out gay MPs (members of Parliament), an out gay cabinet minister, and an out Elton John singing at Princess Diana’s funeral.” [8]

New groups formed including Outrage in 1990 which was a broad-based group of queers committed to radical, non-violent direct action and civil disobedience. [9] Also, the Equality Alliance in 1998 lobbied the government and MPs to end discrimination on the grounds of Sexual Orientation. [10]

From the 1980s the European Union (EU), the Council of Europe (CoE) and its European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) “made a series of decisions that partially incorporated ‘sexual orientation’ into the European human rights laws.” This led to the decriminalization of consensual sex between men in Northern Ireland (1981), to equalize the ages of consent for same and different-sex sexual activity (1997) and to equalise the ages of consent for same and different-sex sexual activity (2000). [11]

LGBT groups used these European rulings to argue for an expansion of LGB rights in the UK concerning work and the marketplace. By the early 2000s, most countries in the EU had adopted a same-sex union law, opening things up in the UK. Stonewall campaigned hard in the early New Labour days and in 2000 the government equalised the age of consent for male same-sex activity with that for male/female and female/female sexual activity at 16, via the Sexual Offences Act 2005. The Scottish Parliament abolished Section 28 in 2000, and the New Labour government followed in 2003. The combined activities of Stonewall inside lobbying, Outrage! protest campaigns and the activities of the Equality Network in Scotland resulted in the 2004 Civil Partnership Act, the Adoption and Children Act 2005, which allows same-sex couples to jointly adopt non-biological children, the Employment Equality Regulations 2003, the Equality Act 2006 and the Sexual Orientation Regulations 2007. [12]

“The EU also helped push anti-discrimination legislation onto the British agenda by banning sexual orientation discrimination in the workplace in its Employment Equality Directive in 2000 (Council Directive 2000/78/EC). This directive was translated into British law in the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations of 2003. The Labour government subsequently expanded anti-discrimination law through the Equality Act 2006 and Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007, and now forbids private service providers from discriminating based on sexual orientation. Labour’s Equality Act 2010 was its final contribution to equality law before losing office in May 2010. The Act integrated and replaced the previous legislation, harmonising sexual orientation law with that for various other dimensions of inequality, and creating a public sector Equality Duty to advance ‘equality of opportunity.” [13]

In 2014, the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act comes into effect in England and Wales, finally making same-sex marriage legal. Scotland followed suit later in the same year.

Here is a summary of the changes and description of the UK LGB movement during this period:

“In the space of less than ten years the UK has gone from partially criminalizing sex between adult men via unequal ages of consent to legally recognizing same-sex couples, allowing these couples to adopt children, and banning sexual orientation discrimination in the workplace and by private sector providers. The extent of this legal change is impressive, although beyond formal equalities persist social inequalities and continued violence against LGB people. Stonewall and Outrage! as well as other LGB activists were at the forefront of the campaigns that led to these legal reforms and can rightly take credit for re-shaping the British state’s relationship with its LGB citizens. At the same time, the LGB movement has also been profoundly shaped by the nature of the British state. LGB groups in the UK have tended to be either streamlined lobby organizations made up of social and political notables or protest groups in which a few individuals dominate. Neither type of organization has taken the nationally federated, membership model used in many other western democracies such as the COC in the Netherlands, LSVD in Germany and in a slightly different form the Gay and Lesbian National Task Force in the United States. Given the closed nature of the British state and hostility of many mainstream British politicians towards homosexuality until well into the 1990s, it has made sense for British activists to create organizations that either use the credibility and connections of social elites like Ian McKellen of Stonewall to gain access to the political system or make use of the charisma of street agitators like Peter Tatchell to gain the attention and sympathy of the national media (Lucas 1998; Lent 2003). The increasing visibility of lesbian and gay communities and commercial sectors in large metropolitan areas of course made the political campaigns of Stonewall and Outrage! possible by increasing the acceptance of alternative lifestyles in British society. But the political organizations that have made up the LGB movement in the UK have remained small and, for the most part, elitist or driven by small groups of individuals.” [14]

Lady Phyll is an important LGBT+ campaigner in the twenty-first century:

“Phyll Opoku-Gyimah, better known as Lady Phyll, is a British LGBT+ rights activist and anti-racism campaigner. She is the co-founder of UK Black Pride, which began in 2005 as a day trip to Southend-on-Sea in England. It now attracts nearly 8,000 people every year. Lady Phyll created the event to promote unity and co-operation among all LGBT+ people of African, Asian, Caribbean, Middle Eastern and Latin American descent in the UK, as well as their friends and families. She is also the Executive Director of the charity Kaleidoscope Trust, which campaigns for the human rights of LGBT+ people in countries around the world where they are discriminated against.”

LGBT history month first launched in the US in 1994 and then in the UK in 2005.

More recently in 2013, Stonewall UK launches ‘Gay. Let’s get over it’ campaign in schools. It aims to address homophobic language and homophobia as a whole.

In 2019, the LGB Alliance was launched: “LGB Alliance is a charity that supports lesbian, gay and bisexual people by building community, providing high quality information, being a source of inspiration for people who feel marginalised and seeking to influence Government and decision makers to prioritise the needs and rights of same-sex attracted people.”

Phase 8 Trans liberation movement

I struggled to find much information on the trans liberation movement in the UK. Apologies for any groups, people, or events that I have left out. If you get in touch I will include them.

Read the full list of transgender, non-binary and intersex historical events in the UK here. Read this article on the history of transgender rights in the UK from 1951 to the 2000s, also see here. There is a history of trans people in Britain in the introduction of Trans Britain: Our Journey from the Shadows by Christine Burns MBE (2018). This 2021 article describes the history of the British trans community through fiction. See the World Transformed Trans Liberation Political Education here.

In 1993 Press for Change is established to give trans people legal advice. In 1995 the Mermaids charity is established, supporting transgender, non-binary and gender-diverse children, young people, and their families since 1995.

A significant piece of legislation is the controversial Gender Recognition Act 2004, passed by the New Labour Government. The Act gives transsexual people legal recognition as members of the sex appropriate to their gender (male or female) allowing them to acquire a new birth certificate, affording them full recognition of their acquired sex in law for all purposes, including marriage.

In 2013, Nikki Sinclaire becomes the first openly transgender member of the European Parliament for the UK delegation. 2013 also saw the first Trans Pride in Brighton. Around 450 people took part and it was said to be the first of its kind in Europe. London’s first Trans Pride march occurred in 2019 and saw more than 1,500 attendees.

In 2016 GIRES (Gender Identity Research & Education Society) published ‘Inclusivity – Supporting BAME Trans People’. GIRES is a charity whose aim is to work to help the trans and gender non-conforming communities including those whose preferred expression is non-binary and non-gender.

The Trans Equality Legal Initiative was active from 2017-18. It was a coalition of trans third sector organisations, human rights lawyers and diversity professionals.

In 2018 Shon Faye was a presenter at Amnesty International’s Women Making History event, where she gave a speech calling to “re-centre” underprivileged trans women. Read articles by Shon Faye here. Read this 2018 article on how a “planned reform that simplifies how trans people gain recognition of their gender has sparked a wave of attacks on trans people.”

The UK Tory government announced a consultation in 2018 to look at changes to the Gender Recognition Act. LGBTQ+ groups are concerned that it will be scrapped. Read their responses here. This has resulted in a conflict between certain women’s groups and trans rights supporters.

In 2020 the Labour Campaign for Trans Rights was launched. During the May 2021 State Opening of Parliament, Queen Elizabeth stated that the UK government planned to ban conversion therapy aimed at altering sexual orientation. This article from 2021 describes the conflict in the LGBTQ+ movement over trans rights. In April 2022, the Tory government announced plans to exclude trans people from the conversion therapy ban. Read more here.

Migrants and Refugee movements

There are several histories of immigration to the UK. [15]

I’ve divided the migrant and refugee movements into three phases: nineteenth-century, twentieth-century, and twenty-first century.


Karl Marx was a refugee rights campaigner. He was critical of the British government’s imperialist policies, which he identified as producing increasing numbers of political and economic migrants. He was also critical of how thousands of upper and middle-class political refugees lived freely in London and were tolerated by the government. But the majority of migrants were treated with “suspicion and ruthlessly exploited by industrial capitalists.” [16] The first known leaflet against immigration controls was produced by Jewish textile workers in 1895.


The twentieth century saw several race riots and the Windrush generation arrive after the Second World War. See the anti-racism movement post for more details.

Liberty challenges injustice, defends freedom and campaigns to make sure everyone in the UK is treated fairly. It was set up in 1934.

Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) has been challenging policies that lead to discrimination, destitution and the denial of rights since 1967. They provide legal and advice services that have helped tens of thousands of people secure their status, keep their families together and escape poverty.

The Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association (ILPA) is a professional association and registered charity, the majority of whose members are barristers, solicitors, advocates and OISC-regulated advisers practising in all aspects of immigration, asylum and nationality law. Academics, non-governmental organisations and individuals with a substantial interest in the law are also members. Founded in 1984.

Scottish Refugee Council is an independent charity dedicated to supporting people in need of refugee protection. They work with communities and community groups. And speak out against an unjust asylum system and campaign for policy changes that make a positive difference to people’s lives. Established in 1985.

There have been at least 40 deaths in UK immigration custody since 1989.

Statewatch produces and promotes critical research, policy analysis and investigative journalism to inform debates, movements and campaigns on civil liberties, human rights and democratic standards. This includes migration and borders. It began operating in 1991 and is based in London.

Detention Action was established in 1993. They work to defend the rights and improve the welfare of people in immigration detention. They support thousands of detained people, as well as advocating tirelessly to keep detention on both the political and media agenda. Migrants Organise, established in 1993, provides a platform for refugees and migrants to organise for power, dignity and justice to enable meaningful inclusion and integration. They combine advice and support for individuals affected by the hostile environment immigration policies with community organising, advocacy, research and campaigning to help dismantle structural racism.

The National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns (NCADC) was founded in 1995. NCADC is a national organisation that supports community-led campaigns for justice in the asylum and immigration system, with a focus on supporting people facing forced removal. It was renamed Right to Remain in 2014.

No one is illegal is a loosely connected international network, which advocates for refugees and migrants present in a country unlawfully. Activists in the network take initiatives in favour of migrants who stay in a country illegally and are at risk of deportation. The network has started a campaign and held rallies to bring wider attention to the situation of refugees. Founded in 1997.

Twenty-first century

Bristol Defend Asylum Seekers Campaign (BDASC) is a voluntary group of concerned individuals and organisations, (including trade unions and religious groups). It was set up in April 2000 to raise the profile of asylum seekers and the difficulties they face in the UK.

The Migration Museum explores how the movement of people to and from Britain across the ages has shaped who we are – as individuals, as communities, and as a nation. Established in the early 2000s.

Migrant Rights Network is a UK-based charity that works alongside migrants in their fight for rights and justice. They partner with individuals and organisations to challenge policy and legislation; build leadership and campaigning capacity in migrant communities; raise awareness of migrants’ rights. Operating since the late 2000s.

The Yards Wood immigration detention centre has had ongoing protests since 2002. [17]

2003 saw a campaign in Glasgow to welcome refugees. In 2003 an Iranian asylum seeker, who sewed up his eyes, lips and ears in protest against the Home Office’s plans to deport him, won a reprieve. Another destitute Iranian died after a suicide protest at a refugee charity. The Scottish Trade Union Council called for a demonstration at Dungavel Detention Centre, to close this prison-like institution down and to treat refugees and asylum seekers humanely and with respect.

The Glasgow Girls were a group of seven young women in Glasgow, Scotland, who highlighted the poor treatment of asylum seekers whose rights of appeal had been exhausted. In 2005, the group campaigned against dawn raids, raised public awareness, and found support in the Scottish Parliament.

Also in 2005, Brighton campaigners successfully prevented the deportation of an Iranian dissident journalist who faced torture and persecution. Campsfield House was an immigration detention centre located in Kidlington near Oxford, England. It saw ongoing protests since 2005 and was closed in 2018. No Borders UK was a network of groups and individuals who struggle against borders and immigration controls and strive for freedom of movement for all. Established in 2005 and active until 2012. The City of Sanctuary UK coordinates, supports and grows this network of welcome. From community groups to schools and universities, local councils to libraries and theatres, we work with individuals, groups and organisations in every area and in every sector to encourage inclusivity, compassion and solidarity. It was founded in 2005.

In 2006 there was a riot in Harmondsworth Immigration Prison. The Unity Centre Glasgow was set up in 2006. It gives practical support and solidarity to all asylum seekers and other migrants in Scotland. They support anyone detained in any UK Detention Centres. Bristol Refugee Rights (BRR) was set up as a voluntary organisation in 2006, originally under the name Holding Refugees and Human Rights in Mind, to uphold and champion the human rights of asylum seekers and refugees. Quaker Asylum and Refugee Network was formed in 2006. It aims to change the way that asylum seekers are treated.

In 2007, the TUC set up a new Commission, the TUC Commission on Vulnerable Employment, to look into the issues surrounding vulnerable employment, including migrant workers. In 2009 there were hunger strikes and rioting in immigration prisons. The Crossing the Channel: Noborder Camp in Calais took place in 2009. This camp led to Calais Migrant Solidarity (CMS) forming in 2009.

In 2010, there was a Glasgow campaign for two Malawi asylum seekers to remain in the UK: Florence and Precious Belong to Glasgow. 2011 saw a similar Manchester campaign for two asylum seekers from Cameroon: Lydia and Bernard Belong to Manchester’ campaign.

In 2012 the Tory-led coalition government brought in the hostile environment: “a set of administrative and legislative measures designed to make staying in the United Kingdom as difficult as possible for people without leave to remain, in the hope that they may ‘voluntarily leave’.” There has been ongoing resistance to the UK government’s hostile environment. [18]

Anti Raids Network, a loose network of groups and individuals working to build the resistance to immigration raids since 2012.

In 2013, Southall Black Sisters organised a protest at Himalaya Palace. [19] There was also a protest at the UK Border Agency’s Glasgow offices against an ugly government advertising campaign. The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants launched the Movement Against Xenophobia. In London Chinatown, waiters, chefs and shop workers downed tools in a mass walkout to protest about recent raids by border control officers.

In 2014 there were protests and hunger strikes in four asylum seeker detention centres across the UK. From 2014-2017, the Birmingham Asylum and Refugee Association (BARA) worked to promote the development of humane, lawful and constructive policies toward refugees and asylum seekers in the UK.

2015 saw a migrant solidarity action at St Pancras and a campaign for three women from Bolivia to remain in the UK: Jhoselyn and Justina Belong in London. Here is a working-class analysis of the refugee crisis. 2015 saw Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants (LGSMigrants) form, which is a queer activist group that, through fundraising and direct action, stands in solidarity with all migrants and refugees. Refuweegee was set up in 2015 to provide a warm welcome to forcibly displaced people arriving in Glasgow. Detained Voices, which publishes verbatim testimony given by people in UK detention centres has been operating since at least 2015. Care4Calais, a volunteer-run refugee charity working with refugees in the UK, France and Belgium. It has been operating since at least 2015.

In 2016 in Cardiff, following public outcry, a company backed down on forcing asylum seekers to wear a coloured wristband. The Byron Burgers chain faced a wave of protests and condemnation in 2016 for helping the Home Office organise a series of immigration raids on its London restaurants that led to the arrest of 35 of its workers from Albania, Brazil, Nepal and Egypt last week. In response to a far-right protest in Dover against migrants, a counter-protest was organised. 2016 saw a campaign to stop an anti-destitution campaign from Zambia being deported. [20] The North East London Migrant Action (NELMA) was set up in 2016 to bring together activists from across London to campaign on issues faced by migrants in vulnerable positions in our communities. Unis Resist Border Controls (URBC) is a national campaign made up of British, EU, non-EU, migrant students, lecturers, & university workers opposed to Home Office surveillance, the Hostile Environment, and border controls on UK campuses. URBC was formed in 2016 at SOAS.

In 2017, an LGBT refugee won a legal battle to stay in the UK. There was also a campaign in Withington to prevent the deportation of local hero, Robert Chilowa. Homes Not Borders was established in 2017, which aims to reverse current housing policies and structures which perpetuate structural racism and anti-migrant sentiment. Docs not Cops was set up in 2017 to demand the end of the Hostile Environment in the NHS, end upfront charging for secondary care, scrap ID checks and drop it Health Surcharge.

Step Up Migrant Women (SUMW) is a campaign ‘by and for’ migrant Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) women led by the Latin American Women’s Rights Service (LAWRS). The SUMW coalition is formed of more than 50 organisations that work and advocate to support migrant women to access protection from abuse. The campaign was launched in 2017. Migrant Solidarity Network UK (MAX) is a campaign aimed at countering the vicious ‘race to the bottom’ anti-immigrant discourse of mainstream politics in the UK. Operating since at least 2017.

2018 saw London’s Chinatown completely shut down for a day in protest of ‘fishing raids’ by immigration officers. In 2018, women detainees launch a hunger strike in Yarls Wood Immigration Removal Centre – “Release us and close this place down.” A group of non-violent human rights activists who took action to stop a deportation flight leaving Stansted Airport were arrested and known as the Stansted 15. They were convicted on antiterrorism charges but these were dropped at Appeal. 2018 saw protests at Brook House Immigration Removal Centre. Detention Action ran a campaign in 2018 End Indefinite Detention (#Time4aTimeLimit.). Here is a radical analysis of the history of migration in the UK and social democracy. Haringey Anti-Raids produced a guide: How To Set Up An Anti-Raids Group.

Against Borders for Children (ABC) was set up in September 2016 to fight a UK government policy to collect country-of-birth data collection in schools across England, through a successful boycott campaign and subsequently took on legal action with the assistance of Liberty.”

Coventry Asylum and Refugee Action Group (CARAG) has been operating since at least 2018 to empower our Community by arming them with the tools they need to achieve Justice and to build Community Leaders who help newly arrived Migrants to settle into their communities, develop, integrate and achieve their aspirations. The Liverpool Migrant Solidarity Network has been operating since at least 2018.

Here is a 2019 Anti-Raids Network guide on resisting raids and the hostile environment. The No Evictions Network is a campaign organising to support people in asylum accommodation in Glasgow against evictions, operating since at least 2019.

2020 saw a solidarity protest for two Nigerian sisters facing deportation. BARMS (Birmingham Asylum Refugee and Migrant Support) is an online directory of organisations, services and groups committed to welcoming, supporting and resettling asylum seekers, refugees and migrants in Birmingham. It has been operating since at least 2020.

In 2021 there were protests by asylum seekers at Folkestone’s Napier Barracks over conditions. [21]

2021 also saw a victory for Glaswegian solidarity when two men detained by UK Immigration Enforcement were released back into their community after a day of protest. [22]

At Penally barracks, refugees organised a union to fight inhumane conditions and their campaign forced the government to commit to closing the camp and inspired others to resist. Here is an article on UK asylum policy.

2022 saw campaigners march in Glasgow to welcome refugees. Also in 2022, the community in Peckham fought the Hostile Environment and won. Hundreds of neighbours secured a man’s release from detention in Evan Cook Close after a five-hour stand-off with cops. In York, there were anti-refugee protests and counter-protests in support of refugees.

In 2022 the UK Tory government announced it will be removing refugees to Rwanda by plane. The first flight under this plan received legal clearance from the High Court and was scheduled for 14 June 2022. A last-minute interim measure by the European Court of Human Rights led to the flight being cancelled. This saw protests in Gatwick and Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centre. There was also a large number of legal challenges.

There was a protest in London against the Rwanda refugee removal policy on June 18. There will be national protests to stop the removal of refugees to Rwanda by plane taking place in mid July.

The National Unemployed Workers’ Movement (NUWM)

The NUWM was formed in 1921 by members of the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) to draw attention to the suffering of unemployed workers following World War One, the 1926 General Strike, the Great Depression and to challenge the Means Test. There were over two million unemployed in 1921. Its main activities were organising hunger marches to London in 1922, 1929, 1930, 1932, 1934 and 1936. The largest was in 1932 against the government means test, when 3000 people marched from around the country to London. NUWM activities were suspended in 1939 at the start of World War Two and the NUWM was dissolved in 1946. [23]

All the marches were met with repression accept the Jarrow March (or Crusade) in 1936. This was a small march of about 200 men from Jarrow in Tyneside that was religiously motivated instead of politically motivated.

The Unemployed Workers’ Organisation (UWO) was formed in 1923 and was a breakaway from the NUWM that opposed reformist politics and the political control of NUWM by the CPGB. It had the revolutionary goal of abolishing the wage system. It only gained support in Poplar in London during the 1923 Dock Strike. UWO members were attacked in September 1923 in Poplar with 40 ending up in hospital. The group did not continue after this. [24]

There was also an unemployed struggle in West Ham in the 1900s.


  1. https://www.highspeedtraining.co.uk/hub/history-of-lgbtq-timeline/, https://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/40459213, https://www.beh-mht.nhs.uk/news/history-of-lgbtq-rights-in-the-uk/1750, https://www.bl.uk/lgbtq-histories/articles/a-short-history-of-lgbt-rights-in-the-uk, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_LGBT_history_in_Britain, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_rights_in_the_United_Kingdom, https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-40743946, https://www.theweek.co.uk/87213/a-timeline-of-gay-rights-in-the-uk, https://www.stonewall.org.uk/key-dates-lesbian-gay-bi-and-trans-equality, https://www.bustle.com/wellness/lgbtq-uk-timeline, https://www.theguardian.com/world/from-the-archive-blog/2019/feb/20/moments-from-lgbt-history-london-metropolitan-archives, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kDV4S5K_kMU
  1. https://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/55276399; also see British Social Movements since 1945, Adam Lent, 2000, page 14
  2. https://timeline.com/this-is-what-britains-gay-liberation-front-movement-looked-like-in-the-1970s-c8583401a209, British Social Movements since 1945 p78, Come Together The Years of Gay Liberation 1970-73 Edited by Aubrey Walter, https://marx.libcom.org/library/brief-history-gay-liberation-front-1970-73, https://timeline.com/this-is-what-britains-gay-liberation-front-movement-looked-like-in-the-1970s-c8583401a209, https://www.petertatchellfoundation.org/memories-of-britains-first-lgbt-pride-in-1972/, Gay Liberation Front british, social movements since 1945 p78
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_movements#LGBT_rights_movement_(1972%E2%80%93present
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_movements#LGBT_rights_movement_(1972%E2%80%93present and see page 10 http://eprints.gla.ac.uk/44250/1/44250.pdf
  5. United Kingdom: Changing Political Opportunity Structures, Policy Success and
    Continuing Challenges for Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Movements, Kelly Kollman and Matthew Waites, p10-11 http://eprints.gla.ac.uk/44250/1/44250.pdf
  6. NGOs in Contemporary Britain Non-state Actors in Society and Politics since 1945 by Nick Crowson, Matthew Hilton, James McKay (eds.), 2009, p101
  7. The Global Emergence of Gay and Lesbian Politics: National Imprints of a Worldwide Movement (Gay & Lesbian Studies) by Barry D. Adam, 1998, page 134
  8. British Social Movements since 1945 p198, NGOs in Contemporary Britain Non-state Actors in Society and Politics since 1945, p105
  9. NGOs in Contemporary Britain Non-state Actors in Society and Politics since 1945, p106
  10. United Kingdom: Changing Political Opportunity Structures, Policy Success and
    Continuing Challenges for Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Movements, p13 http://eprints.gla.ac.uk/44250/1/44250.pdf
  11. United Kingdom: Changing Political Opportunity Structures, Policy Success and
    Continuing Challenges for Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Movements, p15-16 http://eprints.gla.ac.uk/44250/1/44250.pdf
  12. United Kingdom: Changing Political Opportunity Structures, Policy Success and
    Continuing Challenges for Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Movements, p14-15 http://eprints.gla.ac.uk/44250/1/44250.pdf
  13. United Kingdom: Changing Political Opportunity Structures, Policy Success and
    Continuing Challenges for Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Movements, p16-7 http://eprints.gla.ac.uk/44250/1/44250.pdf
  14. https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/guides/z2mn2p3/revision/1, https://www.migrationwatchuk.org/key-topics/history-of-immigration, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical_immigration_to_Great_Britain#Immigration_since_1945, Revolting Subjects Social Abjection and Resistance in Neoliberal Britain, Imogen Tyler, 2013, p83
  15. Revolting subjects, p80-1
  16. 2002 https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-33043395, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yarl%27s_Wood_Immigration_Removal_Centre#Controversies; 2008 https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/mothers-detained-in-immigration-centre-hold-naked-protest-807802.html; 2009 https://thefword.org.uk/2009/06/solidarity_prot/; 2012 https://www.statewatch.org/news/2012/october/uk-organised-dissent-at-yarl-s-wood-detention-centre-met-with-harsh-treatment/; 2015 https://www.artofprotest.com/tag/yarls-wood-detention-centre/, https://www.channel4.com/news/yarls-wood-immigration-centre-protests-hunger-strike-threat?vid=uk-pm-and-eu-chief-say-conditions-for-finalising-post-brexit-trade-deal-are-not-there; 2016 https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/sep/10/activists-demand-closure-yarls-wood-surround-centre-wall-noise, https://www.alamy.com/stock-photo-yarls-wood-detention-centre-bedford-uk-3rd-december-2016-nearly-2000-127276357.html; 2018 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sXZYNNJn9Gg, http://test.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2018/9-march/news/uk/hunger-strikers-yarl-s-wood-detention-centre-threatened-accelerated-deportation; 2020 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9-Tvo-ZNa9E
  17. 2013 description of UK racist immigration policy https://libcom.org/article/will-uk-ever-give-its-racist-immigration-policy-wail-qasim, 2018 resistance to hostile environment in London https://www.libertyhumanrights.org.uk/issue/our-proud-tradition-of-resistance-will-bring-down-the-hostile-environment/, 2019 Justice for Simba Campaign https://www.symaag.org.uk/justice-for-simba-end-the-hostile-environment-sheffield-november-20/2122/ and 2021 campaign Carnival of Resistance to the Hostile Environment in the NHS https://www.symaag.org.uk/carnival-of-resistance-to-the-hostile-environment-in-the-nhs-sheffield-18-september/2620/, 2020 Fair Immigration Reform Movement Charter (FIRM) protests https://www.varsity.co.uk/opinion/20107, 2020 resistance to hostile environment https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/campaigners-resisting-hostile-environment_uk_5fc7bbd4c5b6a8bde2341d10, 2022 ten years of hostile environment and resistance to it https://www.kcl.ac.uk/ten-years-of-the-hostile-environment-resistance-refuge-and-the-role-of-cities-in-the-asylum-journey, 2022 documentary on UK hostile environment https://www.theguardian.com/film/2022/jan/23/hostile-review-heartfelt-documentary-exposing-the-uks-aggressive-stance-on-immigration, 2022 Week of Action to End the Hostile Environment https://firmcharter.org.uk/week-of-action/
  18. https://libcom.org/article/southall-black-sisters-interview-black-flag, https://www.mylondon.news/news/local-news/civil-rights-group-protests-immigration-5964396
  19. https://www.salfordstar.com/article.asp?id=3625, https://www.salfordnow.co.uk/2016/11/17/manchester-campaigner-detained-for-deportation-at-dallas-court/
  20. https://tribunemag.co.uk/2021/02/how-napier-barracks-helps-right-scare-tactics
  21. https://detentionaction.org.uk/2021/05/14/glasgow-refugees-welcome-here/, https://libcom.org/article/glasgow-what-we-can-achieve
  22. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Unemployed_Workers%27_Movement, https://notesfrombelow.org/article/crisis-has-only-just-begun, https://jacobinmag.com/2020/07/national-unemployed-workers-committee-movement-nuwm/, https://www.wcml.org.uk/our-collections/protest-politics-and-campaigning-for-change/unemployment/national-unemployed-workers-movement/, https://www.counterfire.org/articles/analysis/3652-fighting-unemployment-in-the-1930s, We Refuse to Starve in Silence: A History of the National Unemployed Workers’ Movement, 1920-46, Croucher, Richard, 1987
  23. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Unemployed_Workers%27_Movement#Industrial_unionist_breakaway, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unemployed_Workers%27_Organisation