Monday 16 April 2012

Buggers and badgers footnote

The Earl of Arran whose Private Peer's Bill was enacted to make homosexuality legal in Great Britain (Northern Ireland had to wait much longer) later introduced a bill to protect badgers. He complained to a friend that he had a full turn out in the Lords to debate his 'buggers' bill but an empty house for the badgers' bill'. 'That's because there are no badgers in the House of Lords'.

Lord Arran said, when the bill completed its passage through both Houses, how pleased he was that no-one in either House had spoken in defence of homosexuality. This was in 1967.

Legalising homosexuality, unlike changing the law on abortion and divorce, was a very good thing and it is hard to understand why it took so long and was so very unpopular. People should usually be free to do what they like if it does not restrict others' freedom (though I do not want incest to be legal). People who want to condemn homosexual acts should be accorded the same freedom. But in fact as Arthur Balfour wisely said, 'Society is perpetually persecuting.' Today persecutions are still in full swing though the victims have changed. It was ever thus.

Before homosexuality was legalised in Northern Ireland we had the 'Keep Sodomy out of Ulster' campaign which someone, possibly Andrew Roberts, told me was run almost entirely by... but there is a law of defamation and I should stop there.

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