Letters: Unliberated gays

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The Independent Online
Sir: Kathy Marks cannot be allowed to claim (Features, 11 November) that "after three decades of campaigning, many of the [lesbian and gay] legal battles have been won and remaining inequalities look set to be tackled by the Labour government".

Those three decades have brought nothing but failure on the legal front. In England in 1967 there was a higher age of consent for gay men. If a man and a woman had sex in public, the charge was "indecency", if two men, "gross indecency". If three people (male and female) had sex together, it was a party. If three gay men had sex together it was a criminal offence.

It was not "unfair dismissal" to sack someone for being gay. Homosexual partners had no visiting rights in hospitals and no rights to inherit on an intestate death; nor could they contract a civil partnership contract the way heterosexuals could.

What has changed? The armed forces law has been relaxed. A gay soldier is now "merely" sacked without compensation; he is no longer imprisoned as well. But the Tories made it illegal for local councils to fund gay activities and censorship of gay publications is stricter now than 20 years ago.

What will Labour do about any of this? On the important civil liberties issue of the age of consent, it plans to allow a free vote. It refuses to touch the criminal prohibition, for example, on three people having sex.

We have never been had so good.

Michael Mason

London SW7

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