In a comment on my previous post, Zhisou refers to the “astonishing illiberal attitudes” towards homosexuals in the pre-reform era.
To savour the full flavour of the 1950s and ‘60s atmosphere we battled against for homosexual law reform, you have to leaf through the parliamentary debates. Here are a few nuggets:
There is no more baneful or contagious an influence in the world than that which emanates from homosexual practice. It makes a life of leprosy….there are such things as sodomy clubs [which] are plague-spots wherever they exist. They draw in those who would otherwise be immune and turn them themselves into corrupters of their fellows…sucked in and held on to, as it were, by an octopus of corruption.
- Bishop of Rochester, 4 December 1957
Their actions are viewed with repugnance, amounting to condemnation, by their fellow-citizens, who wish them to strive their utmost against all that separates them from normal companionship and sympathy.
- Lord Mathers, 4 December 1957
I can well understand the pleas of those who say that those who practice this cult in private are inoffensive citizens. Perhaps they are, if it is meant that they do not break windows or behave riotously. Nevertheless, they are, in my opinion, a malignant canker in the community and if this were allowed to grow, it would eventually kill off what is known as normal life…I believe that humanity would eventually revert to an animal existence if this cult were so allowed to spread that, as in ancient Greece, it overwhelmed the community at large.
- F. J. Bellenger MP, 26 November 1958
These homosexual practices are not a potential danger but are a present danger to the youth of our country…There can be no question that this practice is a social evil and that it undermines the morals of the country.
- James Dance MP, 26 November 1958
Whether or not one calls it an unnatural act, most MPs and most members of the public abhor the practice [of homosexuality] in any shape or form whatsoever.
- Norman Cole MP, 26 November 1958
In my opinion, all right-thinking people would at best – and I put it at best – think of these homosexuals as people with warped minds who have little self-control….in the general run the homosexual is a dirty-minded danger to the virile manhood of this country.
- Godfrey Lagden MP, 29 June 1960
[I had the dubious privilege of appearing – in shadow, back to camera – with this gentleman on one of the earliest television programmes on the subject. At first he glared at me as if I was some dangerous wild animal. After the broadcast he became quite amicable, and during the return journey to London asked me in a genuinely puzzled way “is it really true that these homosexuals find the idea of going to bed with a woman distasteful?”]
To condone unnatural offences in male persons over 21, or, indeed, in male persons of any age seems to me utterly wrong. One may just as well condone the Devil and all his works….I have heard some say that such practices are allowed in France and in other NATO countries. We are not French, and we are not other nationals. We are British, thank God!
- Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, 24 May 1965
I am convinced that public opinion is completely against this proposal and that the vast majority of our people consider, rightly or wrongly, that sodomy is wrong, unnatural, degrading and disgusting; and I agree with them….this horrible revolting practice is a great security risk.
- Sir Cyril Osborne MP, 26 May 1965
On one thing I think that we can all agree. It is that these people are a great people for proselytising. Their passions seem to be much stronger than those of normal people, and they cast their net very wide for their satisfaction.
- Lord Saltoun, 16 July 1965
I cannot stand homosexuals. They are the most disgusting people in the world, and they are, unfortunately, on the increase. I loathe them. Prison is much too good a place for them; in fact, that is a place where many of them like to go – for obvious reasons.
- The Earl of Dudley, 16 June 1966