Saturday, 10 October 2009

What it was like....

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


Jose said...

I must say here that I've just read, in the New York Times, that Barack Obama says he wants to end the discrimination that affects homosexuals in the American Army.

Anglo-Saxons changing their attitudes?

Fiu said...

"...little self-control" (Godfrey Lagden) - I have often come accross this argument in one form or another which suggests that the proponent has such temptations but is "strong" enough to hold back. If they do not have such attractons they should not talk of superior self control and if they do have such thoughts then they themselves have "warped minds" and are "dirty minded." - Such poor logic would be laughable if it didn't represent such cruel represssion.

Bodwyn Wook said...

Very Anglo-Saxon attitudes altogether indeed! Whatever sort of a mish-mash we are there is progress nonetheless, it may be only a step-and-a-half for every one backward, but it proceeds. It is first and foremost a matter of loving the people closest to us regardless of 'opinions'. (I am more saintly by a factor of ten, on-line I mean, than in person....)

Meanwhile, here, President Obama has been given his Nobel prize ahead of time, one supposes to prevent any mis-understandings later over 'still' being bogged in Afghanistan, or something:

Naturally, I am watching for the postman now myself (the Weblog Lit category!) even as we speak! I am not a Democrat but want very badly for the man to succeed, and this sort of thing is just putting absurd pressure on him. Somebody here said it's Swedea as dish out the science prizes...and the touchy-feely ones are left to the Norwegians. Seems a kind of a dig at THEM!

Well, 'don't kiss AND tell!' as Baroness Thatcher said, or Bill Clinton or somebody?

anticant said...

Fiu, re your comment, Leo Abse - the reform Bill's main sponsor in the Commons - says in his memoir 'Private Member' that judging from a bizarre conversation he once had with Sir Cyril Osborne, "the curbs placed on his infantile masturbatory activities were so intimidating that he was thereafter compelled to protect himself from further danger by removing all temptation from the British scene. This was a formidable task." (!!)

Bodwyn Wook said...

Jesus Christ...I wonder what went on in the toddler-hood of Little Bush?

Phil said...

Well, Anticant, one way of removing temptation to do evil is to no longer consider it as such. Certainly, attraction between people of the same sex continues but, in the UK, it can't be considered temptation any more (thanks to the work of folks like you). The country I live in, Brazil, considers itself to be very sexually permissive (an authoritarian term I dislike) while retaining discriminatory laws and failing to recognize same sex unions. (BTW, I've changed my Blog identity from the phonetic Fiu in Portuguese to the English Phil).

anticant said...

Welcome aboard, Phil. I have often said that "permissiveness" is a rubbish term because it wrongly assumes that some folk have the right - and often the duty - to give to, or withhold from, others permission over matters which are in fact none of their business.

Jose said...

Laws specifically relative to homosexuality are also permissiveness. The laws should be made in a way that there does not exist the least hint of discrimination, this or perhaps adherence to Libertarian doctrines?

anticant said...

We don't live in a Libertarian society, unfortunately - or even a libertarian-minded one. We live in an increasingly fussy, bossy, Nanny-Knows-Best society. Dismayingly, lots of people seem to like it.

Phil said...

I agree with you, Jose. Any law that singles out rather than generically “allowing for,” all groups, tends toward discrimination. For this reason I have always had a problem with the quota system in the US. This has been copied in Brazil for Federal Universities and has generated some good debate and little change. It is slowly being forgotten.

Merkin said...

Phil. what a thought!

A quota for blah blah blah.....

PS the captcha reads 'spermo'

Says it all.