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Wolfenden and Scotland

  • Jeffrey Meek
Chapter
Part of the Genders and Sexualities in History Series book series (GSX)

Abstract

The publication of the Report of the Committee on Homosexual Offences and Prostitution (hereafter the Wolfenden Report) in 1957 was the first major investigation by any national authority in Britain into homosexual behaviour. The report was indicative of reformist principles within government during the post-war period,1 and, as historians have argued, prompted the birth of gay liberation movements in Britain.2 The recommendations of the report, namely to decriminalise homosexual acts between consenting adults in private, were implemented in the Sexual Offences Act in 1967 but, significantly, only in England and Wales. The debates ignited by the Wolfenden Report continued for over a further decade in relation to Scotland. This chapter explores the main reasons why the introduction of more permissive legislation was delayed or prevented in Scotland, focusing on debates held in the Houses of Parliament, newspaper discussions on homosexuality and the law in Scotland, and the experiences of gay and bisexual men (GBM) who lived during this period.

Keywords

Sexual Offence Male Homosexual Homosexual Behaviour Scottish Society Proactive Engagement 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Matthew Waites (2005) The Age of Consent: Young People, Sexuality and Citizenship (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan), p. 96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Brian Dempsey (1995) Thon Wey (Edinburgh: USG), p. 3.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Bob Cant (1993) Footsteps and Witnesses: Lesbian and Gay Lifestories from Scotland (Edinburgh: Polygon), p. 2.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Rictor Norton (1997) The Myth of the Modern Homosexual: Queer History and the Search for Cultural Unity (London: Cassell), p. 167.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Jeffrey Weeks (1990) Coming Out: Homosexual Politics in Britain from the Nineteenth Century to the Present, Revised edition (London: Quartet), pp. 163–4.Google Scholar
  6. 12.
    Home Office Scottish Home Department (1957) Report of the Committee on Homosexual Offences and Prostitution [Hereafter RCHOP] (London: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office), pp. 50–1.Google Scholar
  7. 13.
    Brian Dempsey (1998) ‘Piecemeal to Equality’, in Lesley J. Moran et al. (eds) Legal Queeries: Lesbian, Gay and Transgender Legal Studies (London: Cassell), p. 157.Google Scholar
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    William Merrilees (1966) The Short Arm of the Law: The Memoirs of Chief Constable William Merrilees OBE (London: John Long), p. 115.Google Scholar
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    Patrick Higgins (1996) Heterosexual Dictatorship: Male Homosexuality in Post-War Britain (London: Fourth Estate), p. 117.Google Scholar
  10. 48.
    Angela Bartie (2013) The Edinburgh Festivals: Culture and Society in Post-War Britain (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press), p. 39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 51.
    Frank Mort (1980) ‘Sexuality: Regulation and Contestation’, in Gay Left Collective, Homosexuality: Power and Politics (London: Allison & Busby), pp. 42–4.Google Scholar
  12. 52.
    Matt Houlbrook (2005) Queer London: Perils and Pleasures in the Sexual Metropolis, 1918–1957 (Chicago; London: University of Chicago Press), pp. 243, 256.Google Scholar
  13. 53.
    Jeffrey Weeks (1981) Sex, Politics and Society: The Regulation of Sexuality Since 1800 (London: Longman), p. 244.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Jeffrey Meek 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeffrey Meek
    • 1
  1. 1.University of GlasgowUK

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