Despite a slow start, largely because the House of Lords blocked reforming legislation, the post Labour government, prompted in part by European court decisions, has moved to equalise the law and treatment of LGBT people: But this did not imply a monolithic ideology or politics.
In this way Wolfenden conjured into being for the first time in British law the notion of the distinct homosexual personage.
Wolfenden, the classic re-statement of legal liberalism in the s, offered a framework for the expression of self identities that pointed forward to the new opportunities of the s and beyond. In order to protect their identities, Trevor-Roper was referred to as the "Doctor" while Winter was referred to as "Mr White".
Wolfenden had for the first time defined the legal personage of the homosexual. In the first place, it shifted perceptions about the role of the law in enforcing sexual morality.
Despite really significant transformations, in many quarters homophobia remains rampant, from vicious queer bashing to school bullying, from heterosexist jokes to the self-mocking of openly gay television personalities.
But it fed on, and in turn shaped, the spaces of identity through which individual lives were lived. As a result, there was a police crackdown on street prostitution following the report  and the Street Offences Act was passed.
In each country and culture gay liberation took on local characteristics. A sense of community, of wider belonging, was more than a pious aspiration.
So it followed, in the Wolfenden logic, that the law should at least partially retreat from the regulation of private behaviour, however distasteful the majority of The wolfenden report committee and the population felt it to be, whilst at the same time the law must continue to intervene, more strongly if necessary, to sustain public standards.
From the start in Britain, as in the USA and elsewhere, there was a proliferation of political beliefs, practices and organisations often competing, or in sharp disagreement, with each other. This was in part about the possibilities of easy sex, and that became a leitmotif of the s for gay men, though heavily criticised by many lesbians.
The result was not so much a compromise between conservative moralists and progressives as a bold new framework, offering the outlines of a new moral economy for the post-war world. Wolfenden really came into its own with the great wave of liberal reforms - on abortion, censorship, and divorce, as well as homosexuality - in the late s.
But there was a coherent framework behind the proposals published in which was to be enormously influential for the rest of the century, and not only in Britain. But from a standpoint of fifty years it is important, if history means anything, to affirm that things have changed radically in terms of learning to live with sexual diversity: However, conspiracy to commit or assist homosexual acts remained an offence.
Wolfenden deliberately avoided any endorsement of homosexuality as a valid life choice; it was a problem that needed to be dealt with.
In the s Britain was widely regarded as having one of the most conservative sexual cultures in the world, with one of the most draconian penal codes.
That history, with its prejudices, taboos, persecutions, religious anathemas and legal outlawing of homosexuality is still too fresh in the memory of its victims for it to be lightly dismissed.
For in a real sense it bought the idea of a distinctive homosexual identity and way of life into the law for the first time. The report proposed that the law against street offences should be tightened to eradicate the public nuisance of prostitution.The report proposed that there ‘must remain a realm of private morality and immorality which is, in brief and crude terms, not the law’s business’ and recommended that homosexual acts between two consenting adults should no longer be a criminal offence.
Before and after the Wolfenden Report. Homosexuality in the s. At the beginning of the s, homosexual acts were still considered by law to be criminal offences. The number of convictions rose rapidly in the immediate post-war period as the Home Office pursued prosecution more rigorously.
Wolfenden Report, a study containing recommendations for laws governing sexual behaviour, published in by the Committee on Homosexual Offences and Prostitution in Great Britain. It was named for Sir John Wolfenden, the chairman of the committee.
Wolfenden’s influential report put forward the argument that 'homosexual behaviour between consenting adults in private be no longer a criminal offence'. Despite the recommendations of the report, it was not until July that homosexuality finally became legal in England and Wales.
Executive Summary. The fiftieth anniversary in of the publication of the Wolfenden Report on prostitution and homosexual offences provides a useful vantage point to measure the dramatic change in attitudes towards homosexuality in the past half century.
Discover the legacy of Lord Wolfenden, and the impact the Wolfenden Report has had on LGBT+ rights for over 60 years'.Download