Yesterday (3/11/2011) I read in the Metro newspaper that “gay marriages” (more correctly known as “civil partnerships” in the Disunited Kingdom) are now going to be allowed in places of worship. From what I understand, once they are allowed in places of worship, they will also change to being called marriages rather than civil partnerships.
When I was a student the age of consent for a “homosexual act” (which, I believe, could include kissing someone of the same sex) was 21, whereas the age of consent for heterosexual sex was 16. In 1984 the band Bronski Beat brought out the album “The Age of Consent“, on which nearly every song was about being gay. My favourite song on the album was Smalltown Boy, about a young gay man having to run away from home because of the prejudice against him in his hometown. [note: Peter Coles posted a blog about the same song on his blog about a year ago.]
In 2000 the age of consent for homosexual sex was brought into line with that for heterosexual sex in England & Wales. And in 2005 “civil partnerships” between same sex couples became legal in England & Wales. This week’s news that gay marriages will soon be performed in places of worship shows how far we’ve come. [Note: Scotland has a separate legal system from England & Wales so the dates of the passing of various laws may differ there.]
Homosexuality was only made legal in England & Wales in 1967 (and not until 1981 in Scotland). Before that many (most?) gays were persecuted and jailed for their sexual orientation. Some well known homosexuals took their own lives, rather than face the shame of prosecution and imprisonment.
We still have a long way to go in accepting people’s differences, be they sexual orientation, skin colour, religion or political beliefs. But, we have come a long way in the last 50 years I’m pleased to say.