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BBC marks 50th anniversary of decriminalisation with ‘Gay Britannia’ season

By Ross Semple

The BBC has announced announced a season of programmes dedicated to LGBT+ life in Britain.

The season, called ‘Gay Britannia’, will mark 50 years since The Sexual Offences Act, which partially decriminalised homosexual acts in private between two men over the age of 21.

A mix of dramas and documentary across television, online and radio, Gay Britannia season will feature bold and provocative stories, celebrating the LGBT+ community as well as challenging existing preconceptions and prejudices.

Olly Alexander will front a BBC Three documentary looking at why LGBT+ people are more vulnerable to experiencing mental health issues, as he discusses his own experiences with depression. In the film Olly will join young people on their journeys battling issues that parallel his own – from homophobic bullying to eating and anxiety disorders – and along the way he’ll ask what can be done to address them.

BBC Two will broadcast the compelling drama Against the Law, starring Daniel Mays as journalist Peter Wildeblood who was found guilty of homosexuality in the 1950s in the explosive Montagu Trial.

Stephen K Amos, who is featured in this month’s edition of the Attitude Heroes podcast, will present The People’s History of LGBTQ Britain. The series will reveal the precious mementos and memorabilia that have the changed the lives of LGBTQ people over the last 50 years.

Other shows announced by the BBC include Is It Safe to be Gay in the UK? and Man in an Orange Shirt.

The programmes are set to join the already announced Queer Britain, presented by Irish YouTube star Riyadh. The six-part series is set to explore the reality of life for young LGBT+ people in the UK weekly episodes that promise to get under the skin of queer culture in 2017.

26-year-old Riyadh is set to address the hot-button issues currently facing the gay community, from religion and homophobia to racism within the gay community and the pressure for gay men to confirm to masculine ideals and pursue ‘perfect’ bodies.

“I’m incredibly excited for Queer Britain to be released,” says the London-dwelling social media star. “This was a real passion project which has moved, inspired and educated me in more ways than I ever could have imagined.

On the radio, BBC Radio 2 will broadcast a two-part series telling the remarkable story of how gay people came to transform pop culture in the face of persistent oppression. Andrew Scott will explore the last five decades of British history through gay culture and its sizable impact on the story of popular music.

Queer Britain will be available from May 7 on BBC iPlayer, with the rest of the programmes set to follow later in the year.

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