carl winter

The History of Homosexuality: The Wolfenden Report

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In 1954, following the high-profile convictions of Lord Montagu, Michael Pitt-Rivers, and Peter Wildeblood for homosexual crimes under the infamous 1885 Labouchere Amendment, and more significantly the turn of public opinion against the prosecutors of that case, the Home Secretary ordered that a committee which had been set up in order to look into the matter of prostitution also consider the criminality of homosexuality.

The committee comprised three women and twelve men, chaired by Lord Wolfenden, for whom the report was named. The committee members came from legal, medical, educational, and religious backgrounds, although despite this and the subjects they had been charged with investigating, they were surprisingly coy — Wolfenden suggested at an early meeting that they refer to homosexuals as Huntleys and prostitutes as Palmers (after the biscuit manufacturer, Huntley & Palmers) in order to protect the delicate sensibilities of the ladies in the room. A suggestion which the ladies promptly rejected. Continue reading →

Posted by Kate Aaron in History, Queer Blogging