A few days ago it was the 50th anniversary of partial decriminalisation in the UK – the result of the famous Wolfenden Report, which was fallout over the Peter Wildeblood case. This is a great little video showing how being illegal to be gay affected 78 year old Percy, and the difference in how 13 year old Louis sees the world.
I’m sort of in the middle of these two but John is older, a bit younger than this guy and grew up in South Africa (where it wasn’t legal til 1994! I notice Percy also comes from Jo’burg) and it amazes me that him and his peers in the UK had to grow up hiding who they were…
We take a lot for granted now – although even when I met him I was breaking the law because until 2003 it was illegal to have sex in a hotel room or BnB if you were gay male – that was part of the law they didn’t change in 1967 – the whole ‘in private’ bit was only two people – no threesomes – and even meant other people in the house, it was so loosely worded. Arrests actually went up after 1967 as the evil homophobic police tried to get around the law, and the age of consent was lowered when I was 21, and then a few years later equalised – something that wouldn’t have happened without Europe*.
Things have definitely changed.
* This is an aside to this post but it needs to be said: You know the thing that bothers me about those who grumble about Europe – many of the rights I have, including equal age of consent – I had to wait til 21 before I could legally have sex (and yes I didn’t til I was 23 partly because of that – you really don’t want to have the Old Bill knocking down your door when you’re not sure about your sexuality) were gained because of Europe.
It helped overturn Clause 28. Same sex marriage was aided too, I think, and silly laws like ‘no sex apart from your own home and no-one else in the house’ which was the case til 2003. Also LGBTQ armed forces, I think that was a European Court ruling?
I hate to think where we British LGBTQ would’ve been without Europe…probably age of consent still at 21, no same sex marriage, probably not civil partnership, and I doubt adopting rights either.
But hey, it’s all about those bananas innit? I do worry we’re about to go backwards, though, like Trump’s military trans ban.