UK Law Reform in Trouble?
July 14, 2000
Londons Independent reported July 14 that Prime Minister Tony Blair has
intervened to stop Home Secretary Jack Straw from moving on reform of gay-related sex
offenses, including the gay-only "gross indecency" charge that jailed Oscar
Wilde in the 19th Century and was used against 354 gay men just last year. No
confirmation of this report could be obtained from other sources, but according to the
Independent "a Whitehall source" said Blair met with Straw on July 12 and asked
him to hold off on gay sex law reforms out of fear of backlash in the general elections.
The Home Office is expected to publish other elements of its sex crime reform package
before July 28 but to say the gay sex issue needs further consultation. More than a
years review has already gone into the package. The 1885 gross indecency law
prohibits sex between men when more than two parties are present the third party
often being the arresting police officer and can be punished with up to five
years imprisonment. There is no comparable heterosexual crime.