Letter: Equal rights for homosexuals

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Sir: As a man who was born at the close of the First World War, I look on the demand for gay rights with a different eye from Colin Welch and Peter Tatchell ('A spokesman for which homosexuals?', 24 May). The reform of the law in the Sixties following (belatedly) the publication of the Wolfenden Report was accepted by Parliament because the Labouchere amendment of the 1890s, which invaded the privacy of consenting adults, was regarded by the majority of MPs as an infringement of a citizen's rights.

The revised legislation was a compromise and a half measure. The age of consent, which the late Field Marshal Montgomery in the House of Lords sought to raise to 80, was not reduced to that which applied to heterosexuals, and long-established gay relationships were not regarded as equivalent to long-established marriages, with consequent legal disadvantages to survivors.

I am not sure what Colin Welch means by 'homosexuality organised, aggressive, imperialistic' but I guess that what he objects to is gays demonstrating and demanding the same rights as the rest of society. In Britain we boast long and loudly about the freedom and rights we enjoy compared with benighted foreigners, but in those countries, such as the Netherlands and the Scandinavian countries, where such rights and freedoms have been granted to gays, there is no need for stridency and demonstrations.

Gays are not seeking licence, but freedom and equality before the law. The trouble here is that our passion for compromise has left everyone dissatisfied - the homophobes that gays are too much tolerated; the gays that they don't have the same freedoms as everyone else. Gays do, however, feel that in some ways they are second-class citizens.

Colin Welch asks a number of questions that demand answers. Does the gay and lesbian 'community' exist? Yes; they all have problems in common. Do all gays think it unconditionally wrong that any gay should be denied any job or dismissed from it? Answer: only if the denial and dismissal are on account of his or her efficiency in that job and not because of his or her sexual orientation.

Do all gays deem it proper that gay couples should be married in church? Of course not, because the purpose of marriage is the procreation of children (or so it is alleged), but on the other hand they do ask for the right to have their union blessed by the Church if they so desire, which is quite another matter.

What is the motive of those gays who want the age of consent to be reduced? Not, as I suspect Mr Welch may think, because they want to have sex with minors, but because they think that if it is right and proper for men and women of 18 to have the vote and to die in battle for their country, then it is right and proper that gay men be regarded as adult enough to have sex with the partner of their choice, especially as there is no chance of bringing unwanted children into the world.

Yours sincerely,


Sutton-in-the-Isle, Cambridgeshire