How homosexuality was made illegal in Britain and the consequences of such an iniquitous law

On 6 August 1885, late at night in a House of Commons debate on the Criminal Law Amendment Act, the Member of Parliament Henry Labouchere suddenly produced an amendment to the Bill before the House. This amendment criminalised homosexual acts.

The only discussion was over the penalty to be imposed. Labouchere had proposed a maximum of one year. Sir Henry James suggested two years and Labouchere agreed. The whole debate had four speakers, including Labouchere. It lasted four minutes and consisted of a total of 44o words.

Before this measure was repealed in 1967, some 75,000 men were convicted. One of these was the brilliant mathematician and codebreaker Alan Turing whose story was told recently in the film “The Imitation Game” [my review here].  I have extracted the information on the 1885 law from a short biography of Turing [my review here].

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