‘MPs told of ‘evil in gay bachelor adverts”. 24th June, 1966

A newspaper article about 'gay bachelor' adverts

‘A “gay bachelor” advert was read to MPs in the Commons yesterday. Tory Mr Ray Mawby quoted it from a magazine during the report stage of the Sexual Offences Bill which, with certain exceptions, legalises homosexual acts between consenting adults in private. Mr Mawby supported a move to provide for five years’ imprisonment or a £5,000 fine for homosexual advertisers. He said there were “some rather interesting advertisements” in the magazine. Then he read this one: IS IT LEGAL? “Are you a gay bachelor interested in male only activities? I am forming a social club, London. Send a stamped addressed envelope for details. Cosy lodgings with meals available.” [Said Mr Mawby:] “Even though at this present moment the homosexual act is illegal, there are organisations who feel completely free to put this sort of advertisement into a booklet which [appears to] have a limited and restricted circulation but which is, in fact, sent unsolicited to people all over the country.” He said he would send the booklet to Home Secretary Mr. Roy Jenkins and ask his advice on whether this was the sort of publication allowed by law. Mr Leo Abse (Labour, Pontypool), said that as one of the sponsors of the Bill, if he believed that it would be possible to publish such lists and that they would tend to promote acts of homosexuality, he would share the indignation expressed about commercial exploitation of people. CORRUPTION. Mr Abse said the Ladies’ Directory advertised not only the services of prostitutes, but also pornographic exhibitions and there was already provision in the law for proceedings against conspiracy in these activities. “Members may be assured that in more than one way it would be possible for the police to take action against those publishing lists of prostitutes and homosexuals,” he said. Sir Cyril Osborne (Tory, Louth) who moved the new clause, said: “One evil does not justify another. These very things we are discussing helped bring about the fall of Rome. These social [evils] are corrupting the whole of our national life.” The clause was defeated by 110 votes to 22 – a majority of 88. Later, Mr. Charles Doughty (Tory, East Surrey), Recorder of Brighton, described the Bill as a measure which “reeks with blackmail.” MORE TIME. “It is the blackmailers charter,” he said. The Government would take full responsibility for the Bill if it went through, he said. The five-hour debate was automatically adjourned, but it was not “killed” as happens with most other Private Members’ Bills debated on Friday. The Government, anxious for a decision to be reached in order to prevent the subject turning up each session, will provide time to get the Bill through its remaining stages before the summer recess.