An article reporting on the Labour conference adopting the recommendation to lower the age of consent, 1985

 
An article reporting on the Labour conference adopting the recommendation to lower the age of consent

Transcription: Homosexuality Law Delegates back gays on age of consent A policy to end discrimination against lesbians and “gay” men, which would have the effect of lowering the homosexual age of consent to 16, was carried on a card vote, against the advice of the National Executive Committee, which wanted the motion remitted to it for further discussion. The motion set out a charter for lesbian and gay rights including repeal of “all criminal laws which discriminate against lesbians and gay men”. Ms Jo Richardson, for the NEC, said that that passage gave rise to legal difficulty over the age of consent. Conference passed the motion by 3,395,000 to 2,805,000. The motion called upon all Labour local authorities to enforce equal opportunities for lesbians and gay men and instructed the NEC to organize a campaign of education among Labour Party and trade union members. Moving the motion, Sarah Roleofs, Hornsey and Wood Green, said she was proud to be a lesbian. “Heterosexism” perpetuated oppressive ideas that heterosexuality was the only normal sexuality. Gay people were seen as the perpetrators of Aids instead of the victims. Lesbian mothers were denied custody of their children. One MP had told her they should be building a new Jerusalem, not Sodom and Gommorah. She wanted no part in that Jerusalem unless it included them. Seconding the motion, Mr Charlie Beaton, Bristol South, said this issue had never been debated at the Labour conference before. Some said gays were an electoral liability, but that was only the case when there was a deception. It was not a problem with honest candidates. Ms Terry Conway, Islington North, said she had been moved by the account of how the miners and their families in South Wales had taken gay people to their hearts when they supported them during the minders dispute. Mr William Evans, Ogmore, speaking against the motion, said Labour had more important things to do. A slow handclap interrupted him until the chairman, Mr Alan Haddon, called for the delegate to be heard. Mr Evans said: “Because of this unnatural act we have this disease of Aids spread throughout the world. We should be trying to get rid of the sickness in society, educating people to eliminate it.” (Boos). A delegate who did not give his name came to the rostrum on a point of order and said: “I come here as a gay delegate. I am not ill. That last speech should have been ruled out of order.” (applause). Winding up for the NEC, Ms Richardson, MP for Barking, said socialists did not question the call for equality for women or black people but it was different when sexuality was discussed. They paid lip service to support for gay rights but when it came to standing up for them in employment, housing and other areas they copped out, saying it was a matter of conscience. Children had far more to fear from heterosexual than gay men and women yet it was not said that heterosexuals should be banned from certain jobs because they could be child molesters.

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