Then & Now: The name of love

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26 April 1895: Having lost a libel case against the Marquess of Queensberry, who had publicly accused him of sodomy, the Irish writer Oscar Wilde faced a criminal trial on charges of indecent relations with several young men. He is asked: 'What is the 'Love that dare not speak its name'?' Wilde replied:

' 'The Love that dare not speak its name' in this century is such a great affection of an elder for a younger man as there was between David and Jonathan, such as Plato made the very basis of his philosophy, and such as you find in the sonnets of Michaelangelo and Shakespeare. It is that deep, spiritual affection that is as pure as it is perfect. It dictates and pervades great works of art like those of Shakespeare and Michaelangelo, and those two letters of mine, such as they are. It is in this century misunderstood, so much misunderstood that it may be described as the 'Love that dare not speak its name', and on account of it I am placed where I am now. It is beautiful, it is fine, it is the noblest form of affection. There is nothing unnatural about it. It is intellectual, and it repeatedly exists between an elder and a younger man, when the elder man has intellect, and the younger man has all the joy, hope and glamour of life before him. That it should be so the world does not understand. The world mocks at it and sometimes puts one in the pillory for it.'

24 June 1993: The Irish Parliament legalised homosexuality following a landmark judgement against Ireland in the European Court of Human Rights. Fine Gael deputy Brendan McGahon told Parliament:

'The Lord provided us with sexual organs for a specific purpose and I think homosexuals are left-hand drivers driving on the wrong side of the road.'

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