Clive Conway Logo
General Enquiries Tel. 01865 514 830
Bookings Tel. 01872 500 925
To stage entertaining
and INSPIRING shows
by some of Britain’s
biggest names at
affordable rates
slider
To stage entertaining
and INSPIRING shows
by some of Britain’s
biggest names at
affordable rates
slider
To stage entertaining
and INSPIRING shows
by some of Britain’s
biggest names at
affordable rates
slider
123

Blog

Celebrating 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of gay sex

By: stagedoorscribbler - July 31, 2017

Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Photograph by Hattie Miles

I am sure that Archbishop Desmond Tutu will be delighted at the celebrations that have marked the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of gay sex in England.

 But I also know the he will be frustrated, though probably not surprised, at how long it has taken to reach some form of tangible enlightenment about a subject that to any right-thinking person is a no-brainer .

In his native South Africa same-sex relationships are now legal but in many other parts of Africa and elsewhere in the world the situation is very different.

In more than 30 African nations gay sex is outlawed while in places like Sudan and Southern Somalia it is punishable by death.

Veteran anti-apartheid campaigner Tutu has said that fighting for the rights of people of different sexual orientation is no different from fighting for the rights of people of different ethnicity”

He is right. Criminalising same sex relationships is an act of blind prejudice and it is astonishing to think that until July 1967 it was a crime in this country too.

 Literally thousands of men we're fined, imprisoned and disgraced. Their lives were destroyed just for being themselves.

Being caught or even reported for engaging in gay sex could cost a man his job, alienate him from his family and friends, expose him to blackmail, drive him to despair, even suicide. Bizarrely the same establishment that enforced this inhuman law with its attendant prejudice and bigotry refused to even accept that being a gay woman was possible.

So it is understandable that this year’s 50th anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act of 1967, which finally decriminalised homosexual acts in private between consenting men aged over 21, is being loudly celebrated by the LGBT community.Make no mistake though there is still a long way to go before universal acceptance is a given.

*Clive Conway is chair of the Tutu Foundation UK