LGBT+ History: proposed decriminalisation

Arthur Gore, 8th Earl of Arran, by Alan Clifton, for  Camera Press: London: UK, circa 1967 - NPG x199257 - © Alan Clifton/ Camera Press: LondonLord Arran, circa 1967

1965 In the House of Lords, Lord Arran (Arthur Strange Kattendyke David Archibald Gore, 8th Earl of Arran of the Arran Islands) proposed the decriminalisation of male homosexual acts (lesbian acts had never been illegal). A UK opinion poll finds that 93% of respondents see homosexuality as a form of illness requiring medical treatment.

He does not stop here, and in 1967 sponsors Leo Abse’s Private members bill which later becomes the Sexual Offences Act 1967.

Lord Arran also sponsored a bill for the protection of badgers, and was once asked why this effort had failed whereas decriminalising homosexuality had succeeded. Arran is reported to have replied: “There are not many badgers in the House of Lords”.  It is possible however that this was a rumour started in the book “A terrible Propensity for Malice” by June Thomas although the book itself was supposed to be a history of the persecution of gay males in the 60’s.  The same book also shows that Lord Arran was driven by the memory of his gay elder brother, who had committed suicide days after succeeding to the title.

LGBT+ History: NWHLRC

1964 The North Western Homosexual Law Reform Committee (NWHLRC) is founded in Manchester by Allan Horsfall and Colin Harvey to promote legal and social equality for lesbians, gay men and bi people.  This was created as a local committee of the London based Homosexual Law Reform Society and in practise was the only one to be created.

‘In 1969 the NWHLRC was renamed the Committee for Homosexual Equality (CHE) and in 1971, keeping the same initials, it became the Campaign for Homosexual Equality.

Following partial decriminalisation in 1967 it was clear that there was little prospect for the time being of further law reform; meanwhile there was a clear need for “safe spaces” in which gay men and lesbians could be themselves. It was therefore decided to set up Esquire Clubs in towns around the country, on a model similar to northern working men’s clubs. CHE organised a very memorable public meeting to discuss the issue in Burnley, chaired by the broadcaster Ray Gosling, but no Esquire Clubs were ever opened.’(1)

Allan Horsfall died in 2012 and CHE organised a commemoration of his life at Manchester Town Hall.

LGBT+ History: Lord Wolfenden

1957 The Wolfenden Committee publishes a report recommending that ‘homosexual behaviour between consenting adults in private should no longer be a criminal offence’. Supporters of this recommendation included the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Geoffrey Fisher, and the British Medical Association.

Sir John Wolfenden (left)

Despite this, the recommendations are partially rejected by the government.  The Wolfenden report is still cited by current MP’s as an example of how showing support for ‘unfashionable and unpopular causes’ or reports could cause you to be regarded with ‘great suspicion’ as happened at the time of the reports publication.

Changes were later introduced and, looking back, Parliamentarians agreed “when we look at the changes that were introduced post-Wolfenden, we will see that Parliament did the right thing

LGBT+ History: Michael Dillon

1945 Sir Harold Gillies and his colleague Ralph Millard carried out female-to-male confirmation surgery on Michael Dillon. Sir Harold Gillies developed his pioneering pedicle flap surgery with injured soldiers from World War II. Initially developed as reconstructive surgery, phalloplasty is now offered as a genital surgery option for trans men. Dillon underwent at least 13 surgeries between 1946 and 1949 and was elected for surgery on the pretext of treating a malformation of the Urethra  (hypospadias), in order to conceal the exact nature of the surgery.

His case is still used by Parliament today to highlight issues faced by members of the Trans communities.

LGBT+ History: Order of Chaeronea

1897 George Cecil Ives (above) organizes the first homosexual rights group in England, the Order of Chaeronea. Dr Helen Boyle and her partner, Mabel Jones, set up the first women-run General Practice in Brighton, including offering free therapy for poor women. Helen Boyle also founded the National Council for Mental Hygiene (which subsequently becomes MIND) in 1922. British sexologist Havelock Ellis publishes Sexual Inversion, the first volume in an intended series called Studies in the Psychology of Sex. He argues that homosexuality is not a disease but a natural anomaly occurring throughout human and animal history, and should be accepted, not treated. The book is banned in England for being obscene; the subsequent volumes in the series are published in the US and not sold in England until 1936.

LGBT QWERTY returns!

Lovely folks, we are pleased to announce that LGB-QWERTY is back for 2017, with a fab night of variety entertainment and spoken word performances planned from members of Derbyshire’s LGBT+ community.

In the very special venue of the Derby Museum and Art Gallery, and as part of LGBT+ History Month, the evening promises to be a unique space for the LGBT+ voices and stories to be heard, in the forms of poems, cabaret and variety acts, hosted by the irrepressible Dan Webber.

For more details, you can check out the Derby Museums page here: https://www.derbymuseums.org/whats-on/lcb-qwerty-5-lgbt-history-month-special

LGB-QWERTY is presented by Derbyshire LGBT+, in association with Furthest from the Sea Music, Comedy & Arts, Twisted Tongues and Derby Museums

Interested in performing? Contact Dan@furthestfromthesea.co.uk

“One of the most creative, funny and meaningful nights of variety entertainment I’ve ever had the pleasure of attending” – Serena Dowley, Derby University

Feb Bidentity

Lovely folks,

Just to let you know that February’s Bidentity meeting next Tuesday evening is cancelled.  We will be rescheduling the group in March/April with a relaunch event.

If you would like further information about the support we can provide, please get in touch.

LGBT+ History 50 years series begins

LGBT+ History Month 2017 is here!  This year it’s extra important as 2017 is the 50th Anniversary of partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in the UK.  In 1967, homosexuality was made partially legal for the first time in this country, leading to the current laws and rights that we have today.

Throughout this year, we’ll be undertaking a weekly series of short articles marking points of LGBT+ history, taking a look at law, people and places that you may not have heard about, all of which have contributed to our current freedoms.

To start us off in sobering style, we present a snippet of law from 1861:

1861 The death penalty for buggery was abolished. A total of 8921 men had been prosecuted since 1806 for sodomy with 404 sentenced to death and 56 executed.