The Sexual Offences Act (2452 words)

Historical Context Essay

  • Tammy Grimshaw (Universidad de Jaen)


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…

Grimshaw, Tammy. "The Sexual Offences Act". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 16 August 2004
[, accessed 26 October 2016.]