Abstract

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.

Keywords

Transportation Cane Abate October 1885 Clarification 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 19.
    Vincent, D, 1998, The Culture of Secrecy in Britain, 1832–1998, OUP, Oxford, p. 89.Google Scholar
  2. 47.
    Read, D, 1990, The Age of Urban Democracy; England 1868–1914, Longman, London, p. 244.Google Scholar
  3. 49.
    Harvey, A D, ‘Bestiality in late Victorian England’, in Journal of Legal History [GB], Vol. 21, No. 3, 2000, pp. 85–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 61.
    Tobias, J, 1967, Crime and Industrial Society in the 19th Century, B. T. Batesford, London, p. 175.Google Scholar
  5. 62.
    Tobias, J, 1979, Crime and Police in England 1700–1900, Gill & Macmillan, Dublin, p. 213.Google Scholar
  6. 63.
    Forsythe, W, 1991, Penal Discipline, Reformatory Projects and the English Prison Commission 1895–1939, University of Exeter Press, Exeter, p. 21.Google Scholar
  7. 86.
    See Bristow, E, 1977, Vice and Vigilance: Purity Movements in Britain since 1700, Gill & Macmillan, Dublin;Google Scholar
  8. Mort, F, 1987, Dangerous Sexualities: Medico-Moral Politics in England since 1830, Routeledge & Kegan Paul, London.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Sean Brady 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sean Brady

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations