The Sexual Offences Act

(2452 words)
  • Tammy Grimshaw (Universidad de Jaen)

Historical Context Essay

Private sexual acts between men over the age of twenty-one were decriminalised in England and Wales upon the passage of the Sexual Offences Act in 1967. However, the law and legal reforms relating to homosexuality have an extensive history imbued with public controversy.

The first English civil law against sodomy was passed by Parliament in 1533. Under this statute, sodomy was punishable by death. In 1861, the death penalty for sodomy was abolished; thereafter, the punishment for this sex act was life imprisonment. Significantly, sodomy was a punishable offence whether it occurred between persons of the same sex or persons of the opposite sex. In other words, the laws in force at this time focused on sex acts, not categories o…

Please log in to consult the article in its entirety. If you are a member (student of staff) of a subscribing institution (see List), you should be able to access the LE on campus directly (without the need to log in), and off-campus either via the institutional log in we offer, or via your institution's remote access facilities, or by creating a personal user account with your institutional email address. If you are not a member of a subscribing institution, you will need to purchase a personal subscription. For more information on how to subscribe as an individual user, please see under Individual Subcriptions.

Grimshaw, Tammy. "The Sexual Offences Act". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 16 August 2004
[, accessed 30 September 2016.]