Abigail Fletcher (MA, BA (Oxon))

Thesis title: "From Partition to Decriminalisation: Homosexuality in Northern Ireland 1921-1982"


Abigail graduated from Magdalen College, Oxford, in 2019, with a First Class BA in History, where her undergraduate research looked at LGBT activism in Northern Ireland 1982-2002. She received her MA History from Queen's University Belfast, having studied gender-based peace activism in Northern Ireland from 1969-1995. She began her doctoral project at the University of Edinburgh in September 2020, which is supported by the Justin Arbuthnott Scholarship in Modern Irish History.

In May 2021, she was awarded a British Association of Irish Studies prize to support her archival work, and in December 2021, her paper at the Irish Economic and Social History conference was awarded a 'New Researchers Prize' for work presented by a graduate student. In July 2022, Abigail organised 'Ireland Sexualities in History' a two-day hybrid workshop at the University of Edinburgh.  


MA History, Queen's University Belfast (2019-2020), Distinction

Dissertation: "Ray of Hope on Dark Horizon: Gender-Based Peace Activism in Northern Ireland 1969-1995" (supervisor Professor Diane Urquhart) 

BA (Oxon) History, Magdalen College Oxford (2016-2019), Double First and Demyship 

Dissertation: LGBT Activism in Northern Ireland 1982-2002 (supervisor Professor Sian Pooley)


Responsibilities & affiliations

Co-convenor for the Modern Irish History seminar series at the University of Edinburgh (January 2021-present) and member of the Histories of Gender and Sexualities Steering Group (September 2020-April 2021) 

Abigail is a member of the Irish Association of Professional Historians. 

Undergraduate teaching

I am a tutor on the Historian's Toolkit (HIST08032) and Themes in Modern European History (HIST08043) modules. I operate flexible online office hours. Students who wish to book a meeting should e-mail me to arrange a time.

Research summary

My research concerns homosexuality in Northern Ireland from the creation of the state in 1921, to the decriminalisation in 1982 of same-sex relations. Explaining the consistent exceptionalism of Northern Ireland’s sexual morality laws, I account for the region’s exclusion from the Sexual Offences Act (1967) which authorised male homosexuality in England and Wales, and analyse the delay in law reform until 1982. My thesis will capture, elucidate and critically analyse this disparity to explore the history of sexuality in Northern Ireland, as well as the legislative relationships that have operated both across the Irish Sea and the Irish border.

Past research interests

My research specialisms include, but are not limited to; the history of modern Ireland, gender, sexualities and activism.

Knowledge exchange

Review of Olivia Dee, The Anti-Abortion Campaign in England, 1966-1989 for Women's History Association of Ireland. 9th April 2020

Review of Olivia Dee, The Anti-Abortion Campaign in England, 1966-1989 by Abigail Fletcher | Women's History Association of Ireland (womenshistoryassociation.com)

"Murals, Gender and Memory in Northern Ireland" for Writing the 'Troubles'. 27th July 2020

Murals, gender and memory in Northern Ireland – Writing the 'Troubles' (wordpress.com)

"Cross-border LGBT Activism in Northern Ireland 1977-1999" for LGBT Heritage Project Northern Ireland and Linen Hall Library, 27th April 2021

LGBT History Club: Cross-border LGBT activism in Ireland 1977-1999 by Abigail Fletcher - YouTube

"The Future of Ireland's LGBTQ+ past" for EPIC Ireland, November 2021

The Future of Ireland’s LGBTQ+ Past (epicchq.com)


Affiliated research centres


University of Edinburgh and University of Cambridge Irish History Workshop, January 2021 

First Year History PhD Conference, September 2021

Abigail organised "Ireland Sexualities in History" a workshop at the University of Edinburgh in July 2022. See more at Irelandsexualitieshistory (@Irelandsexuali1) / Twitterireland and sexualities in history (wordpress.com)

Papers delivered

University of Edinburgh and University of Cambridge Irish  History Workshop, January 2021 

Irish Social and Economic History Conference, National University of Ireland, Galway, December 2021. Awarded 'New Researchers Prize' for work presented by a graduate student. 

 Ireland and the Magdalene Laundries: a campaign for justice, Irish Studies Review (2022) DOI: 10.1080/09670882.2022.2070094