LETTER: 100 years on from Wilde's conviction

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From Mr Peter Tatchell

Sir: One hundred years ago today, Oscar Wilde was convicted and sentenced to two years' hard labour on charges of homosexuality.

The law against "gross indecency between males", with which Wilde was charged and jailed, remains on the statute book. There are also other Victorian laws which penalise consensual gay cruising and the aiding and abetting of homosexual acts (even lawful ones). The maximum sentence continues to be two years' imprisonment.

My research, based on Home Office statistics, suggests that in the century since Wilde's trial, between 150,000 and a quarter of a million men have been prosecuted in Britain for consenting homosexual behaviour. In the 1980s alone, over 20,000 were convicted and nearly 2,000 jailed.

One hundred years after the great injustice done to Wilde, surely it is time to put an end to the equally great injustice that is still being done to gay and bisexual men today.

Yours faithfully,


London, SE1

23 May