In the late nineteenth century, newspapers were not the only institutions reluctant to give publicity to the existence of sex and sexuality between men. Examination of the legislature, legislation and the Home Office in this period reveals considerable ambivalence and secrecy in this matter. Historiography in the medico-legal tradition has been dependent, to a significant extent, on analyses of developments in law and government policies for controlling sex between men. In the British paradigm, studies since Weeks’ emphasise the importance of Henry Labouchere’s infamous Amendment to the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1885 in the construction of homosexual identity. Labouchere’s Amendment, Clause 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1885, stipulated that

any male person who, in public or private, commits, or is party to the commission of, or procures or attempts to procure the commission by any male person of any act of gross indecency with another male person, shall be guilty of a misdemeanour, and being convicted thereof shall be liable at the discretion of the court to be imprisoned for any term not exceeding two years, with or without hard labour.1

Labouchere’s Amendment, or Clause 11, is interpreted by historians such as Cohen and Weeks as a point of near-revolutionary change in the legal categorisation and punishment of male homosexuality.


Sexual Coercion Young Offender Homosexual Identity Male Homosexuality Sentencing Policy 
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© Sean Brady 2009

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  • Sean Brady

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