Thursday 1 June 2017

We are concerned

'We are concerned, in this part of our enquiry, with homosexual offences. Any lengthy or detailed study of the nature or origins of homosexuality would, in our view, have fallen outside our terms of reference, even if we had felt ourselves qualified to embark upon it. Nevertheless, since we are concerned also with the treatment of those who have been convicted of homosexual offences we have found it necessary to acquaint ourselves with at least the elements of the subject in general, and the following paragraphs set out some of the points and problems which have been raised in our discussions. . .'
(The Wolfenden Report, paragraph 17)

This year various organisations are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Act of Parliament partially de-criminalising homosexuality. As well as its exhibition Queer Talk: Homosexuality in Britten's Britain (see my review), the Britten-Pears Foundation is presenting a public reading of the sections of the Wolfenden Report dealing with homosexuality. The reading is at The Pumphouse in Aldeburgh on Sunday 11 June 2017, as part of the Aldeburgh Festival.

The 1957 Wolfenden Report triggered the campaign which would ultimately lead to the 1967 act. It is a fascinating an historically significant document, and the reading of the relevant sections will take an estimated 5 hours and 15 minutes to complete!

The reading will be divided into 30 sections, marked by logical breaks in the Report itself. Matters covered in the Report include: ‘Is homosexuality a disease?’; ‘Blackmail and courts’ and ‘Oestrogen and Castration treatments’. It concludes with the recommendation that ‘homosexual behaviour between consenting adults in private should no longer be a criminal offence’ – although some members of Wolfenden’s Committee (who prepared the Report) submitted several lengthy ‘reservations’, which will also be included in the reading.

The Britten-Pears Foundation is delighted that human rights activist Peter Tatchell will be taking part along with other special guests, to be announced. The public will also be able to take part and can sign up at the SignupGenius website.

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