‘Lonely Men who face a ‘brutal choice”. 20th December, 1966, p.2

A newspaper article on gay men

The law offers homosexuals the “brutal choice” of either celibacy or criminality, Labour MP Mr. Leo Abse told the Commons last night. He moved the second reading of his Sexual Offences Bill. This would legalise homosexual acts between consenting adults in private, and increase maximum penalties for homosexual acts concerning minors. The Bill also lays down penalties for procuring others to commit homosexual acts and for living on the earnings of male prostitution. Mr. Abse said: We are demanding a code of behaviour from them which we know, as heterosexuals, nearly all of us could not sustain. For those of us who are blessed with the emotional security of a heterosexual life and with a good wife and family and the blessings and endowments of children – have we won the right to demand this from those whose terrible fate it is to be homosexual? I don’t think we have. It is an unreal demand and impossible for it to be met.” He said “We have an unenforceable law. Only with a massive recruitment of police and an invasion of privacy which all of us would find quite intolerable could the law be enforced. It is a bad law becuase it is unenforceable and utterly random in its application.” Mr Abse said that to talk of jailing men who had relationships with adults was as therapeutically useless as incarcerating a sex maniac in a harem. Before the debate began, the speaker Dr. Horace King said he had selected and amendment to it, urging that the Bill should not be given a second reading since it “failed to afford the exemption and protection to the Merchant Navy now provided to the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force.” Mr. Abse, referring to the amendment, said he had had two long meetings with the National Maritime Board. He understood the concern expressed in the amendment. “I would not resist an amendment which is founded upon the principal that a Merchant seaman should be in any worse or better a position than a Naval rating,” he said. Captain Walter Elliot (Tory, Carshalton) said: “I sincerely believe, if this Bill is passed, it will increase homosexual practice. It will not cleanse the national bloodstream. It will corrupt and poison it. It will not bring more happeness. It will bring greater unhappiness. For those reason I hope the House will reject it.”