When the UK decriminalized homosexuality...
One might think a blanket approval was given to homosexuality when legislation was first passed decriminalizing homosexual acts between consenting adults - but it wasn't so simple. The manner in which it was discussed would be intolerable today. I came across the following in the combox of an online magazine - the quotes I found are in italics, otherwise the following entry is lifted from Wikipedia to provide context.
In the 1960s, one MP, Leo Abse, and a peer, Lord Arran, put forward proposals to change the way in which criminal law treated homosexual men by means of the Sexual Offences Bill. This attempt to liberalise the law relating to male homosexuality can be placed in a context of the rising number of prosecutions of homosexual men.
In his 1965 Sexual Offences Bill, Lord Arran drew heavily upon the findings of the Wolfenden Report (1957) which recommended the decriminalisation of certain homosexual offences.
The Wolfenden committee had been set up to investigate homosexuality and prostitution in the mid 1950s, and included on its panel a judge, a psychiatrist, an academic and various theologians. They came to the conclusion (with one dissenter) that criminal law could not credibly intervene in the private sexual affairs of consenting adults in the privacy of their homes. The position was summarised by the committee as follows: “unless a deliberate attempt be made by society through the agency of the law to equate the sphere of crime with that of sin, there must remain a realm of private that is in brief, not the law's business” (Wolfenden Report, 1957).
There was no political impetus after the publication of the Wolfenden report to legislate on this matter, but by 1967 the Labour Government of the time showed support for Lord Arran's mode of liberal thought. It was considered that criminal law should not penalise homosexual men, already the object of ridicule and derision. The comments of Roy Jenkins, Home Secretary at the time, captured the government's attitude: "those who suffer from this disability carry a great weight of shame all their lives" (quoted during parliamentary debate by The Times on 4 July 1967).
The Bill received royal assent on 27 July 1967 after an intense late night debate in the House of Commons.
Lord Arran, in an attempt to minimise criticisms that the legislation would lead to further public debate and visibility of issues relating to homosexual civil rights made the following qualification to this "historic" milestone: "I ask those [homosexuals] to show their thanks by comporting themselves quietly and with dignity… any form of ostentatious behaviour now or in the future or any form of public flaunting would be utterly distasteful… [And] make the sponsors of this bill regret that they had done what they had done" (quoted during Royal Assent of the bill by The Times newspaper on 28 July 1967).
These are interesting points:
- "those who suffer from this disability carry a great weight of shame all their lives" - Roy Jenkins
At the time, civil authority recognized, as the Church continues to do today, that one often 'suffers' from same sex attraction/homosexuality. More or less. It was subsequently debated by lawmakers, and therefore decriminalized, in part, because it was viewed as a 'disability'. I believe the Church is more charitable, and more sensitive to the condition addressing it as an 'objective disorder', while identifying the condition as a 'cross' a person bears. I think that's fair, especially for those who desire to live according to Catholic teaching regarding chastity and marriage.
- "I ask those [homosexuals] to show their thanks by comporting themselves quietly and with dignity… any form of ostentatious behaviour now or in the future or any form of public flaunting would be utterly distasteful… [And] make the sponsors of this bill regret that they had done what they had done" - Lord Arran
However, most interesting to me is the request made by Lord Arran to homosexuals - that is, to avoid ostentatious behavior or distasteful public flaunting - which would cause the sponsors of the bill regret for having decriminalized homosexuality. The legislators must be writhing with regret in their graves every time a gay pride event takes place.
Distasteful public protests and ostentatious demonstrations, albeit not unusual in LGBTQ celebrations, would certainly erupt today if such language dare be used in the public square. As one critic once noted:
Inevitably, if the dominant group concedes anything of substance, it will eventually take the place of the subaltern group. A little over fifty years ago, homos in England could be arrested just for being homos. Now people are arrested there simply for offending them. All in a single lifetime. - Dr. Andro