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In Britain an ecclesiastical law of 1290 ordered sodomites to be buried alive....
......but this sentence never seems to have been carried out; the few sodomites who were convicted by the Church courts were then hanged by the secular authorities.
On the other hand, in the 14th Century, Sir John Clanvowe got married - to a man. The ceremony was called "Wedded Brotherhood" and was approved by the Catholic Church. The man was Sir William Neville, who became Constable of Nottingham Castle.
Sir John Clanvowe was the originator of the Robin Hood legend. If you want a copy of Tony Bilton's book Creating the Legend which describes all this, send us an e-mail ... just click HERE
In 1533, for men sodomy was made punishable by death.
In 1806 there were more executions for sodomy than for murder.
In 1836 the last British execution for sodomy took place - though the law was not changed until 1861.
1885 The offence of "Gross indecency between males" was introduced to cover all gay sex other than anal intercourse. Lesbianism is not mentioned.
"Any male person who, in public or private, commits, or is a party to the commission of, or procures, or attempts to procure the commission by any male person of, any act of gross indecency shall be guilty of misdemeanour, and being convicted shall be liable at the discretion of the Court to be imprisoned for any term not exceeding two years, with or without hard labour."
This was known as the Labouchere Amendment after the MP Henry Du Pré Labouchère who introduced it.
in 1895 Oscar Wilde became the most prominent victim of Labouchère's amendment. Wilde spent two years in prison at hard labour.
The law was often described as "the blackmailer's charter". Many other gay men shared Wilde's fate, while countless thousands silently suffered extortion and the mental torture brought by fear of exposure. Many chose suicide over arrest and exposure.
The Labouchère amendment became a device for perpetrating fear and hatred of male homosexuality for more than 80 years.
In 1921 MP Frederick Macquisten argued that lesbian acts should be criminalized. He said:
"These moral weaknesses date back to
the very origin of history, and when they grow and become prevalent in any nation or in any country, it is the beginning of the nation's downfall. The falling away of feminine morality was to a large extent the cause of the destruction of the early Grecian civilisation”.
This proposal failed and Lord Birkenhead (pictured on the right) the then Lord Chancellor argued that 999 women out of a thousand had "never even heard a whisper of these practices”. The gist of his argument being "don't give women ideas".
Marguerite Radclyffe-Hall was an English poet and author of eight novels, including the lesbian classic The Well of Loneliness.
The Well of Loneliness became the target of a campaign by the editor of the Sunday Express newspaper, who wrote "I would rather give a healthy boy or a healthy girl a phial of prussic acid than this novel." He said this is "A Book That Must Be Suppressed"
It was banned in 1928, when a British court judged it obscene because it defended "unnatural practices between women", but publicity over The Well of Loneliness's legal battles increased the visibility of lesbians, though Its role in promoting images of lesbians as "mannish" or cross-dressed women has also been controversial.
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