Wolfenden Report

1565 words - 6 pages

The document is a House of Commons debate which has been recorded into Hansard; it was recorded on the 19th of June 1960. This was three years after the Wolfenden report was already published. It has documented the verbal debate that Member of Parliament Kenneth Robinson, who had represented the constituency of the borough of St Pancras North. He had raised the debate about the Wolfenden Committee, its findings on how the law conflicted between private and public life of homosexuals and what they had proposed to the House of Commons an alternative solution to the law set on Homosexuality. The committee had been created by David Maxwell-Fyfe, the Home Secretary in 1954, who had appointed the Departmental Committee on Homosexual Offences and Prostitution under Sir John Wolfenden. The committee had published the Report of the Departmental Committee on Homosexual Offences and Prostitution, also known as the Wolfenden Report, and was the first report of its kind to help the government compromise over the actions against homosexuals and prostitutes made by the law. After the documentation and research of many homosexual trials that have been conducted, as well as first hand interviews of homosexuals, this is what the Wolfenden Committee had recommended in order to tackle the discrimination of homosexuals by the public and by the law.
The Wolfenden report was carried out as the result of an increase in arrests and convictions of homosexuals in the end of World War II, some of them being quite controversial. An example would be the trials of two British spies in 1951, Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean, as it was the American security agencies that put strong pressures on their British counterparts to weed out known or suspected homosexuals and remove them from their important positions. This method was done so it would ensure that those who did occupy important positions were not blackmailed into giving out information, using the law as the weapon. The government started a McCarthy like campaign against homosexuals, which contributed to the increase in arrests and convictions. Although the trial of Lord Montagu of Beaulieu, who held a seat in the House of Commons, and Peter Wildeblood, a British-Canadian journalist, was largely seen as a catalyst in the campaign against the serious convictions of homosexuals in 1954; many believe that it had been this case that help the formation of the Wolfenden committee and also help influence political reform for homosexuals.
In the document, Kenneth Robinson states what the Wolfenden committee has recommended in the situation of a growing awareness of convictions against homosexuals. The first recommendation being “that homosexual behaviour between consenting adults in private be no longer a criminal offence” , a clear proposal made by the committee, and the second recommendation being that the Committee “made it clear that it defined “consent”, and “private” in the same sense, as those words are meant in connection...

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