Come in! Come in!

"If you are a dreamer, come in. If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar, a Hope-er, a Pray-er, a Magic Bean buyer; if you're a pretender, come sit by my fire. For we have some flax-golden tales to spin. Come in! Come in!" -- Shel Silverstein

Saturday, July 28, 2007

It was forty years ago today . . .

Note: This is part of a long piece which actually begins with an interview with Our +Gene. I've reversed the order. You can find the beginning of the interview at the end of this post and read it in its fullness at

The Scotsman

Andrew Collier
Saturday July 28, 2007


THE Sexual Offences Act, which partially decriminalised homosexual acts in private between two men, both of whom had to be over 21, was given Royal Assent 40 years ago today, on 28 July 1967, after a night of heated debate in the Commons. It applied only to England and Wales: Scotland would have to wait until 1980 for such liberalisation, while the Armed Forces remained exempt until 2000.

The Sexual Offences Act was significantly influenced by the Wolfenden Report of 1957, which recommended the decriminalisation of certain homosexual acts between consenting adults in the privacy of their homes, and established a certain legitimacy for same-sex relationships which hitherto had been mired in discrimination, repression and very necessary secrecy. The gay community had hitherto existed as a shady and persecuted subculture, perpetually fearful of discovery which might destroy lives and reputations. One of the bill’s sponsors, Lord Arran, commented: ‘Perhaps a million human beings will be able to live in greater peace. I find this an awesome and marvellous thing.’ He quoted from a letter Oscar Wilde, left, wrote after his release from Reading gaol: ‘Yes, we shall win in the end; but the road will be long and red with monstrous martyrdoms.’

The act set the age of consent between men at 21, and raised the penalties for certain ‘acts of gross indecency’.

North of the Border, where sexual activity between males, consenting or otherwise, remained punishable by heavy prison sentences, the Scottish Minorities Group, later to become the Scottish Homosexual Rights Group and then Outright Scotland, was established in 1969, its campaigning playing a significant part in prompting the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act of 1980. The first International Gay Rights Conference was held in Edinburgh in 1974.

In the Eighties, while openly gay pop stars such as Boy George, Jimmy Sommerville and Frankie Goes to Hollywood gave a certain popular voice to the gay community, the continuing harassment and even murder of gay men prompted the formation of Outrage! And despite the advent of ‘gay pride’ (the UK’s first Gay Pride march was held in London in 1972; Glasgay was founded in 1993), prejudice hardly evaporated overnight - witness the ‘gay plague’ witchhunts during the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s and 1990s.

In February 1994, the age of consent for sex between men was reduced by parliament to 18 and, after two attempted blocks by the House of Lords, in 2000 the age of consent for gay men was lowered to 16, on a par with heterosexuals. A further step on the road to normalisation was taken on 18 November, 2004, with the Civil Partnerships Act. More than 15,500 gay and lesbian couples put a seal on their relationships between December 2005, when the first registrations took place, and December 2006.

Just this week, a small but telling victory was chalked up when the reggae star Buju Banton, whose 1990 hit Boom Bye Bye, which advocated the shooting of gay men, pledged to desist from singing homophobic lyrics.

Millions believe this man is the Antichrist

FORTY years after the decriminalisation of homosexuality in England and Wales, American The Rt Rev V Gene Robinson, the world’s first openly gay bishop, explains to ANDREW COLLIER in an exclusive interview what it’s like to be many Christians’ number one enemy.

THE Devil has arranged to meet me in the lobby of a London tourist hotel. It’s an odd choice of venue: Westminster Cathedral, the great temple of Roman Catholicism in England, is close by; and a glimpse of the fire and colour of Hell would have been more interesting.

Nor does he look like Satan. No horns, no tail, no pitchfork, no smoke and sulphur. He’s of medium height, thinning hair, wearing a smart shirt and tie. He’s immediately warm, friendly, open and assured. I like him.

Yet millions of Christians the world over are convinced - absolutely assured - that this man is the Antichrist. They believe he is the Devil, sent to destroy the church from within. Welcome to the fan club of the Rt Rev V Gene Robinson, Primate of the American diocese of New Hampshire and the world’s first openly gay bishop.

This week may mark the 40th anniversary of the legalisation of homosexuality in England and Wales, but attitudes in many ways still lag behind legislation. Even on this side of the Atlantic, Robinson’s public homosexuality has made him the most controversial figure in worldwide Anglicanism since Henry VIII split with Rome in 1538 and created the church.

Read the rest

Or, cut and paste this into your browser

1 comment:

Lapinbizarre said...

It an indication that things do not always change for the better that the 1967 Act passed the Lords in no small part because of its support by the archbishops of Canterbury (Ramsay) and York (Coggan, a leading evangelical).