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Title: The discursive production of homosexual regulation
Author: Baxendale, Graham
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis explores the pivotal place of the 1885 Labouchère Amendment and the 1967 Sexual Offences Act in the discourse of homosexual regulation presented by 20th century homophile histories. These twin events of ‘criminalisation’ and ‘decriminalisation’ are revisited to explore how and why they occurred and how they came to assume such a central position in both academic and popular understanding. The thesis draws on two streams of evidence. The literature on homosexual regulation is examined to establish the claims that are made about Labouchère Amendment and the Sexual Offences Act and the place that they are accorded, and the relationship that is established between them, within widely accepted homophile histories of the UK. Alongside this, primary sources – in the form of parliamentary debates, government papers, newspaper archives, and biographies – are interrogated to unpick the motivations and intentions of those involved in these pieces of legislation and to position them within a wider historical context. The thesis argues that this literature on homosexual regulation contributed to and institutionalised a homophile discourse geared especially towards establishing a history of what specific events might mean for political imperatives of the time and future prospects of homosexual communities. I will suggest that this led to uncritical acceptance of particular interpretations of the Labouchère Amendment and the Sexual Offences Act, which were reproduced over time and thus established as ‘truths’ within academia, the gay community and the wider public. Whilst some authors have recently subsequently questioned the importance of the Labouchère Amendment in the process of criminalisation (e.g. Cocks, 2003:17) these accounts have by-passed this event altogether, rather than offering an alternative account for its passage. Consequently, they have not supplanted earlier public, academic and political understandings of Labouchère. Specifically they have not explored how earlier understandings informed the debate about decriminalisation which, as this thesis will show, was premised on these historical interpretations. More broadly, the thesis argues that the over-concentration and mistaken interpretation of the Labouchère Amendment, which has misinformed understandings of the SOA (1967), has prevented the development of a more thorough, genealogical analysis of simultaneous sexual regulation more generally. In turn, developing a combined analysis of heterosexual as well as homosexual regulation contributes to the critique of existing interpretations which uncritically present certain events as homophobic rather than part of a more encompassing punitive heteronormativity. Part One critiques homosexual regulation’s historiography, before exploring theoretical and methodological issues raised in my thesis. Part Two then questions the Labouchère Amendment’s status as a fundamental adjustment in homosexual regulation making private homosexual acts short of sodomy illegal for the first time (Weeks, 1977). I provide an alternative history showing all homosexual acts were previously punishable and show that Labouchère’s Amendment was not homophobic but a measure for the protection of male youths from sexual exploitation and as such part in keeping with the wider punitive heteronormativity. I achieve this through analysing the primary sources on Labouchère’s Amendment from that period alongside the genealogical contextualization provided by contemporaneous heterosexual regulation. This establishes the foundations for Part 3 to repeat this methodology in analysing the decriminalisation process, this questions the centrality ascribed to the 1957 Wolfenden Report. I establish that this concentration ignores that decriminalisation was a highly politicised and negotiated process reliant upon the same social and political transformations that also re-ordered heterosexual regulation. This radically changes the interpretation of the how and why decriminalisation occurred and what had been possible.
Supervisor: Mcghee, Derek ; Halford, Susan Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform ; JA Political science (General) ; K Law (General)