The Road to Equality: The Struggle of Gay Men and Lesbians to Achieve Equal Rights Before the Law

Published 17/12/2014
Type Article
Corresponding Authors

In this piece I want to consider the legislative journey toward equality which in March 2014 saw the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 giving lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender people (LGBT) almost parity with heterosexuals before the law. The major focus is the exploration of key legislation that has been in place and the impact this has had on the LGBT community, particularly gay men; a history that is sometimes forgotten.

Lesbians have not been subject to the law in the same way as gay men although it is clear that the impact of legislation against men has had consequences for women in terms of for example, inheritance, marriage and indeed the way they lived their lives. I will consider why lesbians have been almost invisible before the law and how their behaviour was policed.

A theme of the work is that legislation not only defines legality but it also seems to be important in terms of setting out a state’s attitude to equality and particular groups. It can signal the move from state homophobia to state recognition. At the same time the changing of attitudes, relationships of power and inequality take more to shift than legislation alone can achieve.

Finally, I will consider if the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 is a step in the right direction on the road to LGBT equality. Have the latest developments in legislation brought genuine equality and choice within a traditionally patriarchal society or will the LGBT community become just another consumer group with the ‘pink pound’, now to be sold ‘gay weddings’?

The Law and Male Homosexuality
In March 2014 it became lawful for same-sex couples to enter into a partnership of marriage (this does not apply in Northern Ireland). Thus an opportune time to consider the road to equality as experienced by the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community (LGBT). Whilst there remain some outstanding issues regarding equality, for example, couples of the same sex are not entitled to inherit their partner’s pension; it is not an insignificant step in the process for both the community and individuals. In considering sexual orientation in terms of the legislative framework, Chakraborti and Garland (2009) point out that unlike many other aspects of discrimination, the gay community’s private and sexual lives have been subjected to police scrutiny as well as legislative and parliamentary intervention. Stout (2010) observes that the journey to equal treatment for the gay community is quite different from other groups as although discrimination has been longstanding in terms of race and gender, it has never actually been illegal to be black or a woman. One might question if it has actually been illegal to be ‘gay’, but judging from reports of the policing of gay venues in the 1950s and 1960s, then attendance seemed to be the only requirement to being arrested.

According to Stonewall (2013), the first mention of a punishment for homosexuality in English law was in 1290, the traditional ‘buggery’ statute was introduced in 1533 and was still in effect up until 1967 (Crompton, 1980). In 1628 Sir Edward Coke, a celebrated judge, compiled a list of all existing criminal offences. In volume three of ‘The Institutes of the Laws of England’ there is a chapter titled ‘Of Buggery or Sodomy’ This chapter is ‘the first piece of legal scholarship that addresses homosexual relationships in English Law’ (Moran 2000:98). Coke (in Moran 2000) lists a number of statutes such as the Queen Elizabeth I Act criminalizing sexual relations of this nature but notes that references to same-sex sexual relationships are a rarity in law. Whilst buggery & sodomy are not exclusively sexual acts between men, the work does make reference to sexual relations between people of the same sex. Buggery and sodomy are seen as serious offences and are likened to rape or treason, the only suitable punishment being death, usually by hanging. Coke’s (in Moran, 2000) view is that ‘homosexual acts’ are forbidden by the law of man and by God. This link between state and religion is a constant theme at this time and it is not until the State moves to a more secular position post war, that legislation has gradually liberalized (Moran, 2000). That said current debates as reported by the media, about the legalising of marriage between same-sex couples arguably have largely focused on matters of religion.

Successful prosecutions were rare during this period, largely due to the need for an eye witness to confirm penetration had taken place. Up until 1816 the most common form of punishment for those convicted was to stand in the town or village pillory and be pelted by a largely hostile crowd. Records from the Old Bailey Proceedings (2013) identify that between 1679 and 1772 there were 1072 convictions for sodomy and 96 for Assault with Sodomite Intentions. The proceedings also record a number of Thefts by Extortion against homosexual men. Jeremy Bentham in “Offences Against One’s Self: Paederasty,” written in 1785 argued for the liberalization of laws concerning homosexual activity but the essay was never published in his lifetime due to his fear of the probable reaction.

During the late 17th and 18th Century there were a number of waves of prosecutions against homosexual men. They were often the result of self-appointed groups who advocated for the ‘moral’ savings of the day. The society for the Reformation of Manners used spies and provocateurs to pursue and prosecute homosexual men (Emsley et al., 2013). Between 1806 and 1835 60 men were punished by hanging (Crompton, 1980). In July 1860 John Spencer became the last man to be sentenced to death at the Old Bailey for the offence of sodomy; the sentence was never carried out. The following year the Offences Against the Person Act formally abolished the death penalty for buggery in England and Wales (Old Bailey Proceedings, 2013).

The Criminal Law Amendment Act (the Labouchere Amendment) was introduced in 1885 creating the offence of gross indecency, making all sexual acts between two men illegal. It became known as the ‘Blackmailer’s Charter’. The criminal law became focused on the punishment of homosexuality. One of the first men to be prosecuted under this Act was the playwright and author Oscar Wilde who was prosecuted in 1895 for gross indecency and sentenced to two years hard labour at Reading Gaol. Once the law had decreed that he and his behaviour were criminal he was shunned by many of his former friends and ‘society’ in general. The point being that Wilde as a popular man of the day, with his male companion Lord Alfred Douglas, was socially acceptable, once he was convicted of gross indecency he was not. Hypocrisy appears to be a constant theme on the road to equality.

What about Lesbians?
Lesbian sexuality has been an area that legislation has not been concerned with. Sex between women was not illegal and therefore it is more difficult to identify and compare lesbian life with gay men’s during this period. If women did appear before the law in the late 16th to early 18th century, it most likely would be for impersonating a man by cross dressing and thus they would be prosecuted for deception or fraud. There were a number of women who lived their lives as men, marrying women, dressing and engaging in male occupations of the day such as joining the army (Faderman, 1992).

A further reason why it is difficult to identify lesbian life (Moran, 2000) is that much legal scholarship has concentrated on same-sex relationships between men and whether or not they should be criminalized. Crompton (1980) is clear about the dearth of writing about lesbians and the law; how much we really know about lesbian life and the law during this period. He questions if lesbians really had impunity from capital laws during the 13th to 18th century. In Spain, France, Italy and Germany it was illegal to be a lesbian and there were a number of incidents of lesbians being punished by hanging, drowning and dismemberment for their sexuality (Crompton, 1980). Whilst this was not the case in England we might consider how women who were ‘different’ from the norm were ‘put in their place’. It may be useful to reflect on potential parallels between the characteristics of some women hung as witches to some stereotypes of lesbian women.

Feminist researchers (Faderman, 1992; Robson, 1998) have argued that women’s experience of the law is different from men’s and in particular lesbians’ experience of the law different from gay men’s. In fact much of what has been written about legal history is about the history of men. Whilst mainstream legal studies have remained silent on the subject, disciplines such as criminology have also failed to engage with sexual orientation on a theoretical basis (Blair Woods, 2014). It has been left to lesbians and queer legal theorists to begin to think about how lesbians have been vilified, marginalized and generally not sufficiently noteworthy to merit consideration by most academics.

Legal theorists in the US such as Ruthann Robson (1998, 2009) have considered areas including the codification of lesbian relationships and the conceptualization of lesbians in the court setting. Robson also looked at figures regarding the over representation of lesbians on death row. Anderson (1996) believes that close to half of inmates on death row are lesbian whilst Brownworth (1992) puts the figure at nearer to a third.

Returning to the road to equality, Moran (2000) notes women’s sexuality and place in the family during the 18th and 19th century was policed in different ways, by private rather than criminal law. In America for example, where the growth of education for middle class women also lead to a burgeoning lesbian community, it was policed through social pressure and patriarchal notions of a ‘woman’s role’. Dr. Edward Clarke in ‘Sex Education’ warned in 1873 that women engaging in higher education and study would lead to infertility and uterine disease, amongst other things (Faderman, 1992).

1928 saw the publication of Radclyffe Hall’s The Well of Loneliness, the first novel written in English by a woman about two female lovers. Whilst not sexually explicit, ‘and that night they were not divided’ (in Faderman 1992:113) it was clear enough to indicate to most readers that this was not a platonic relationship. Hall herself was influenced by Krafft-Ebing and Havelock Ellis and their new ideas about the origins and nature of sexuality (Souhami, 1999). She describes Stephen Gordon the female lead in her novel as ‘a man trapped in a woman’s’ body. She believed herself to be a ‘congenital invert’ or lesbian. Hall’s work was influential in both Britain and America remaining popular into the 1960s as the only famous lesbian novel. Faderman (1992) believes that the novel and Hall herself helped form images and ideas of how lesbians might look and behave. It is clear that the role of a female was immensely restrictive to Hall and no doubt some of these frustrations are reflected in the book.

The state’s response was swift and the novel was prosecuted for obscenity and banned from further publication. Smith (2005) notes that Hall attended the trial and heard the chief magistrate Sir Chartres Biron rule that the novel was an ‘obscene libel’ and that all copies should be destroyed. We now know that ‘official’ medical advice was sought and it was stated that the novel might encourage female homosexuality and lead to ‘a social and national disaster’ (Souhami, 1999:183). It transpires that leading politicians and the then Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin and his Chancellor Winston Churchill had gone to great lengths to suppress the book. The Director of Public Prosecutions wrote to colleagues stating he wanted to call witnesses who would support his view that female inverts were either unfortunate or those who voluntarily indulged in lesbianism, wicked (Smith, 2005).

Ultimately the Director of Public Prosecutions obtained the testimony he desired, the consulting medical adviser to the Home Office opined that lesbianism does have a debasing effect on women who practice it and that it would undoubtedly lead to mental illness, even suicide. He stated that ‘It leads to gross mental illness, nervous instability, and in some cases to suicide in addicts to this vice. It is a vice which, if widespread, becomes a danger to the well-being of a nation…’ (Smith 2005:2). A major concern seems to be that it may have influenced the curious. The book was finally published in 1949 after Hall’s death.

War and Post War Persecution
Despite some of the very real issues faced by lesbians and gay men, gay communities were emerging in several European cities during the inter war period, notably Berlin, London and Paris (Souhami, 1999). The film ‘Cabaret’ captures aspects of gay life in Berlin as we glimpse the rise of Nazism. Stonewall (2013) record that during the 12 years the Nazis were in power, homosexuals were one of the groups/communities persecuted. It was predominantly gay men, but lesbians were also arrested and placed in Labour and Concentration Camps. Sexologists Havelock Ellis and Addington Symonds’ work ‘Sexual Inversion’ had been published in 1897. This was significant because it was probably the first book that treated homosexuality as neither a crime needing punishment nor a disease needing a cure. It was instead viewed as an inborn condition that was unchangeable (Medhurst & Munt, 1997). Whilst this argument had been used by some as a reason to tolerate lesbians and gay men, as Weeks (1986) notes, it was equally used by the Nazis to argue for their suppression. Homosexuals were forced to wear a pink triangle symbol to identify the reason for their captivity. An estimated 50,000 gay men were sentenced to imprisonment and 15000 gay men deported to concentration camps. These men were subject to the death penalty, starvation, castration and were amongst those ‘medically’ experimented upon by the Nazi regime (Stonewall, 2013). The Nazi laws relating to homosexuality in Germany remained in place until 1967.

Gay men and lesbians were not amongst groups recognized as victims of Nazism by the Allies or Germany and were therefore ineligible for compensation. It is a recurring issue that gay victims of persecutions and instances of injustice were unable to come forward to tell their stories since many of the laws, attitudes and prejudices facing the community were still in place. It was not until 2001 that the German and Swiss Bank Compensation Programme was extended to include gay victims, many of whom were dead by that point (Stonewall, 2013).

Whilst post war there was little appetite for addressing injustices around sexuality, Alfred Kinsey et al. (1953) undertook one of the earliest pieces of research into the sexual practices of Americans. His ground breaking work in 1948 and 1953 demonstrated that homosexuality was more widespread than ever assumed. As part of his research tools, Kinsey used a scale or continuum. Interviewees were asked to describe their sexuality on a scale 1-6. One being exclusively heterosexual and six being exclusively homosexual. Kinsey introduced the notion that sexuality was not fixed, not exclusively one thing or the other. Amongst it seemed, the more surprising of results he found that 12 % of the women in his sample had engaged in lesbian sex. He also found that 46 % of American men and 28% of American women had ‘homosexual tendencies’ at some point in their lives. Kinsey has been criticized on a number of counts, particularly in relation to his sample selection. The now familiar statistic of 10% of American men living as almost exclusively homosexual does derive from his work. A positive outcome of the research publication was that gay men and lesbians recognised there were others like them (Kinsey, 1953; Hekma, 2000; Fish, 2013).

In terms of the use of legislation post war, the case of Alan Turing gives some insight into the relationship between the lesbian and gay community and the Criminal Justice System. Turing has been acknowledged as being a founder of computer science who developed ideas leading to the first computer as well as the machine which enabled the decryption of the Enigma code during the Second World War (Davies, 2013). Turing moved to Manchester in 1949, working at Manchester University where he headed the computing laboratory and developed a body of work that helped to form the basis for the field of artificial intelligence. In 1951 he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society (Davies, 2013). He was arrested in 1952 for homosexuality and had his security clearance revoked. It was thought that being homosexual, he was a security risk and would be open to blackmail. This notion of homosexuals as ‘curiously susceptible to treachery’ is mirrored in America where the McCarthyite witch hunts were underway and where homosexuals were prime targets (Weeks, 2010). The police initially became involved with Turing when he contacted them to report a burglary at his home. The burglary was committed by a friend of the man Turing was involved with. The police focused not on the crime reported but instead on his sexuality. Turing was never imprisoned but was forced to undergo treatment including hormone injections which were said to have made him develop breasts and become depressed. He committed suicide two years later aged 41 (Davies, 2013).

The 1950s saw a rapid rise and rigorous prosecution of homosexuals by the Home Office (Stonewall 2013). In 1952 for example almost 4,000 gay men appeared in court; in 1954 there were 1069 men in prison for homosexual acts. Thousands of gay men were blackmailed, prosecuted, sentenced to prison, pilloried and shamed. It is impossible to assess the number of men who committed suicide during this period. For those men whose suicide attempts failed, worse was in store, as Horsfall (1988) notes, some were prosecuted for being both homosexual and attempting suicide which at that time was also illegal. Many were subject to supposed ‘cures’, which included lobotomies, aversion therapy and chemical castration (Fish, 2012).

Police interest in the gay community was not only concentrated on bigger cities, and dependent upon the attitudes of particular Chief Constables, men in more rural areas did not go unnoticed. Horsfall (1988:7-18) cites Dr. R.W. Reid who wrote to the Spectator in 1958:

‘The pogroms continue, one in this neighbourhood having started with long and weary police court proceedings on the eve of Christmas, so that the festival may presumably be spent in contemplation of the Spring Assize. And this for a lad of seventeen. The pattern is much the same in all these cases. The police go round from house to house, bringing ruin in their train, always attacking the younger men first, extracting information with lengthy questioning and specious promise of light sentences as they proceed from clue to clue i.e. from home to home, often up to twenty. Last time a man of thirty seven dropped dead in the dock at Assize. Just because this happens in country places…it goes largely unreported’.

A snapshot of awareness of lesbian and gay men generally is perhaps demonstrated by the fact that in 1956 Liberace, the flamboyant pianist, sued the Mirror newspaper for libel. They had implied he was homosexual. He was able to sue the paper and win, despite the fact that he was indeed homosexual, in the knowledge that generally people would not believe that he could possibly be gay. As an issue of social justice, gay rights and gay recognition had not yet even reached public consciousness.

Allan Horsfall (1988) in his own account of the life of a gay man born in 1927 stated that whilst keenly aware of the illegality of his sexuality and therefore the prospect of ‘living a life of crime’ by his very existence, he never contemplated a celibate existence as an acceptable alternative. He made two gay friends whilst serving during the war in the RAF. On demobilization one converted to Roman Catholicism and began training to join the priesthood, soon after he had a breakdown whilst the other married but shortly after was found hanged (Horsfall, 1988). It is against this 1950s post war backlash that the modern lesbian and gay movement was formed. It is perhaps difficult now to understand the life lived by lesbian and gay people during the 1950s and 60s. The patrolling of public toilets by the police for example was common into the 1990s, where if caught gay men would usually be prosecuted for gross indecency (Schuff, 2000; Weeks, 2010).

Wolfenden: A Step in the Right Direction
The Wolfenden Committee was initially established in 1954 to review the law on prostitution, but after considerable pressure from amongst others Lord Boothby, finally agreed to add male homosexuality to its terms of reference. This was not a party political debate as the move for reform had considerable support amongst the Conservative Party; supporters included Margaret Thatcher and Enoch Powell. Support from members of the Labour Party was slower in coming as they did not necessarily see the rights of homosexuals as an issue to align with. The Wolfenden Report (1957) recommended that ‘homosexual acts between consenting adults’ should be legalized. This was partly as an acknowledgement that what consenting adults do in the private sphere should not necessarily be the business of the state. The law was therefore seen as helping to enforce common standards of public decency but not imposing moral absolutism (Moran, 2000). The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 however does place same-sex couples in the public sphere as their relationships enter formally into civic life.

Places where lesbian and gay men could meet were still limited during the 1950s and 60s and liable to constant scrutiny by the authorities; a time when unaccompanied women were not welcome in many pubs, no matter what their sexuality. Licenses granted to bars were withdrawn or managers warned and ‘leaned upon’ if they were suspected of allowing homosexuals to meet there. The licensee of the Union Hotel in Manchester was imprisoned for 12 months in 1965 for allowing homosexuals into one of its bars. The Recorder at Manchester Crown Court stated that ‘Your conduct of the licensed premises amounted to an outrage of public decency. You exploited abnormality for personal gain and allowed this public house to become a canker in the heart of a great city’ (Horsfall 1988:16). The Union bar and hotel remains at the heart of Manchester’s thriving gay village.

In 1967, 10 years post Wolfenden, sexual activity between two men over the age of 21 was decriminalized. For Peter Tatchell (2013) the debate lurched between vicious homophobia and ‘patronizing, apologetic tolerance’. The Earl of Dudley’s contribution perhaps reflects the level of antagonism for the proposed change ‘I cannot stand homosexuals. They are the most disgusting people in the world. I loathe them. Prison is much too good a place for them’ (Bedell, 2007:7). Perhaps more surprising are the views of those who supported the 1967 Act. As Tatchell (2013) suggests they were hardly more tolerant than its detractors, a significant theme of their argument being that homosexuals are to be pitied and were in need of Christian compassion. Leo Abse introduced the Sexual Offences Bill in 1967 and explained that ‘the thrust of all the arguments we put to get it was, “Look, these people, these gays, poor gays, they can’t have a wife, they can’t have children, it’s a terrible life. You are happy family men. You’ve got everything. Have some charity”‘ (Bedell, 2007:7).

The treatment of lesbian and gay men after this partial decriminalisation did not immediately improve; 30,000 men were convicted between 1967 and 2003 for behaviour that if their partner had been female would not have been prosecuted (Bedell, 2007). Lesbians and gay men were extremely reluctant to approach the police in cases of for example extortion due to their sexuality. For the reasons discussed throughout this piece there has been mistrust between the lesbian and gay community and the Criminal Justice System in general and the police in particular, that is still evident at times today.

The Arrival of Gay Rights and Gay Pride
Movement toward establishing lesbian and gay rights began to increase in pace during the 1970s. This idea of having pride in your identity against the back drop of guilt, condemnation and prosecutions was new and exciting for the community. This was a time when under the American Psychiatric Association, homosexuality was still classified as a mental illness and not declassified until 1974 (in 1992 the World Health Organization followed suit).

Inspired by Dame Jill Knight and the Conservative Family Campaign, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher introduced the notorious 1988 Local Government Act. The aim being to ban local authorities from ‘promoting homosexuality’ as well as tolerance of ‘pretended family relationships’. Section 28 stated that: ‘A local authority shall not: Intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality; Promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship’. Section 28 seems to have been an attempt to restrict the developing LGBT community from expressing its views, its sexuality and growing confidence. It has been argued (Stout, 2010) that the significance of this legislation was not that it was enforced, this would have been time consuming and difficult to perhaps prove what ‘promotion’ was, but that it created amongst teachers and others working with young people a climate of fear and confusion. It echoes with current policy in Russia and Uganda where politicians have used the argument that homosexuals are using propaganda to influence young people to suppress LGBT organisations (Day, 2014). Links are clearly being made between LGBT people and paedophilia, links that were not uncommon in this country well into the 1980s.

In Britain, we have seen a raft of legislation in recent years that will help the LGBT community achieve equality. This has included areas around equal age of consent, employment law, access to goods and services, rights to be named on birth certificates, gender re-assignment, protection from direct and indirect discrimination, harassment and victimization. There is still quite a way to go when we consider instances of hate crime, the rate of suicide amongst lesbian and gay teenagers and the vilification of transgender people, all of which still occur on a regular basis.

And finally the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013, not quite the full story. What has been significant about the arrival of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 is the absence of debate, qualification or discussion about the concept of marriage and the implications for the LGBT community. There appears to have been an almost universal agreement that this is a significant step in the right direction from all perspectives and organisations within the LGBT community. Whilst Peter Tatchell has expressed some personal reservations about marriage given its patriarchal roots (Tatchell, 2014), he never the less has understandably, publicly given it his full support.

Equality has been characterised as meaning the ability to get married just like heterosexuals. Undoubtedly there are significant advantages in that this will give LGBT people access to the considerable legal and economic benefits of marriage, as well as symbolic recognition (Barker 2013). Legal recognition in terms of for example, rights of next of kin and inheritance appear to be a major reason why LGBT individuals have supported it along with wanting family respect (Shipman & Smart, 2007). The Act it is argued will signal that LGBT marriage is positively recognised and respected by the state and its people. The Act then is to rectify a perceived unfairness as well as giving status to same-sex relationships. In fact some arguments in favour of same-sex marriage have similarities with conservative ‘family values’ arguments. They include, marriage is good for families’, good for children type discourses and by broadening it to LGBT people it is seen as strengthening the institution. Significantly it poses that love, sex, monogamy and marriage go together.

Marriage for people of the same sex is seen as a symbolic step against the background of historic homophobia and discrimination, as discussed in this article. It would help remove negative symbolism associated with same-sex relationships and make a positive statement about their equal worth (Cox, 1994). Who can deny the part social support from friends and family plays in the maintenance of long term relationships? Same-sex marriage is also seen as having a role in changing attitudes and being a move in the general erosion of prejudice and discrimination. It is believed that LGBT people will no longer be excluded and invisible in their relationships which will now be valued and treated with respect. Importantly young people growing up, straight or LGBT, will be receiving the message that homophobia is no longer acceptable.

Robson (2009) reminds us, however, that the benefits of marriage should not immunize marriage from interrogation. It is she asserts, a political institution which uses numerous formal and informal coercive measures to get people, particularly women to ‘choose’ as an option. Critically she suggests that marriage will further attempts to ‘domesticate’ lesbians, ‘reforming’ them from a tradition of transgressive behaviour. There are then a number of arguments as to if the LGBT community should go down this road, many of which have been absent from main stream debate. Amongst the issues queer theorists such as Sullivan (2003) raise are, do we really want the assimilation of same-sex relationships to the heterosexual norm? Lesbian and gay relationships are different, precisely because they are relationships between two people of the same gender. Some LGBT people are consciously resistant to dominant ideologies and resist this narrative of assimilation as expressed in media reports surrounding the marriage bill; couples have been portrayed as wanting to be ‘normal’ like you. A further argument is that LGBT people should firmly oppose the idea of the ‘pink pound’, lesbian or gay wedding shows and refuse to be identified as just another consumer group. Indeed in terms of legislation it can be questioned if the law can actually provide the answer to LGBT equality, as in reality this is merely rhetoric as opposed to genuinely viewing LGBT people as equal and of equal worth. Thus, formal legal changes provide only one of the many measures needed to challenge current power relationships (Morgan, 1995).

Feminist writers have argued both in favour of and against same-sex marriage. In favour the argument is broadly that LGBT people can alter and transgress the institution from inside, because part of their oppression results from displacement from civil society, notably the family. What could be more anti-patriarchal for lesbians, Cox (1994) asks than for two women to stand proudly committing to each other without a man in sight? Other feminists such as Barker (2013) however, remind us that the institution of marriage remains as patriarchal as ever imbibing concepts of ownership, property and dominance as its foundation. They therefore reject the idea that entering into this contract can give LGBT equality.


The road to equality for LGBT people has been long and arduous. In common with other groups who have been discriminated against, their history often rendered invisible. Despite this, however, we should not necessarily view every change without some degree of critical questioning. We may conclude that we do not have the right to deny LGBT people, what both in the media and from personal narratives appears to be very real happiness. We can reflect that in this particular instance we may not be getting the whole story.


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