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Celebrating 40 years of decriminalising homosexuality

July 24th, 2007

Dr Petra

The 28th July is the fortieth anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of sexual acts between men. So get ready to party!

Prior to the decriminalisation of homosexuality in the UK, it was seen by the state and public as a sign of moral decay, equated with paedophilia, or seen as a form of mental illness with many gay men and lesbians recieving psychological ‘treatment’ to ‘cure’ them of their homosexuality. You can read about professionals and patients who delivered or recieved said treatment. Although not everyone was happy with this research as you can see from this response from the British Psychological Society’s Lesbian and Gay Section.

The change in the law came about due to many factors, but key issues that did lead to the decriminalisation of homosexuality included a shift in public attitudes following pioneering films like The Victim (1961) starring Dirk Bogarde and journalist Peter Wildeblood being the first man to admit in court that he was a homosexual. Shifting moral views and public opinion led to the Wolfenden Committee concluding there was no threat from homosexuality or a need for it to be illegal. However, despite recommendations for decriminalisation it took over a decade for the law to be changed.

You can find out more about gay history here, while Channel 4 television are running a series of programmes relating to the anniversary called 40 years out.

At a time when homosexuality is less frowned upon in the UK and we’re able to celebrate decriminalisation it’s worth remembering homophobic bullying of young people is still a problem, that for many gay men and lesbians being out is not easy, and that bisexual and trans folk still often face prejudice. Lesbian voices are still often not heard, and wider issues of global homophobia, abuse and human rights violations still need to be tackled. You can find out more about campaigns from Peter Tatchell and the legal position on homosexuality worldwide at this site.

Sadly there are still many problems LBTGQ folk have to face, and here’s a reminder of some of them….

However, this is supposed to be about celebrating sexual freedoms, so let’s all enjoy a nice Camp Song…..

And a bit of Brokeback to the Future

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