Sexual Offences Act 1967 .January 6, 2021
The Sexual Offences Act 1967 is an Act of Parliament in the United Kingdom (citation 1967 c. 60). It legalized homosexual acts, on the condition that they were consensual, in private and between two men who had attained the age of 21. The Act applied only to England and Wales. The law was extended to Scotland by the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 1980 and to Northern Ireland by the Homosexual Offences (Northern Ireland) Order 1982.
Legislation and debate :
By 1965, a majority of MPs in the House of Commons were also sympathetic to changing the law. Berkeley’s bill passed a second reading 164–107 in February 1966. Its passage was interrupted by the dissolution of Parliament for the 1966 general election. Berkeley lost his seat, but the election increased the number of MPs who were likely to support the bill. Abse became the bill’s main sponsor and he re-introduced the bill.
Homosexual activity between men had been illegal for centuries. There was never an explicit ban on homosexual activity between women. In the 1950s, there was an increase of prosecutions against homosexual men and several well-known figures had been convicted. The government set up a committee led by John Wolfenden to consider the laws on homosexuality. In 1957.
- The age of consent of 21 for homosexual males set by the 1967 Act was reduced to 18 by the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 after an attempt to equalise the age of consent with that of the heterosexual age of consent of 16 introduced as an amendment by the then Conservative MP Edwina Currie narrowly failed. This law also extended the definition of rape to include male rape; until then the latter had been prosecuted as buggery.
- In 2000, the Parliament Acts 1911 and 1949 were invoked to ensure the passage of the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 2000 which equalised that age of consent at 16 for both homosexual and heterosexual behaviours throughout the UK.