Part of the reason for people wanting to place legal restraints on those engaged in homosexual relationships can be explained by homophobia. Blumenfeld (1992) identified 4 distinct types of homophobia which included personal homophobia, institutional homophobia, interpersonal homophobia, and cultural homophobia. Blumenfeld describes personal homophobia as "a personal belief system (a prejudice) that sexual minorities either deserve to be pitied as unfortunate beings who are powerless to control their desires or should be hated; He also concluded that those who have personal homophobia generally regard homosexuals as psychologically disturbed, genetically defective, unfortunate misfits, that their existence contradicts the laws of nature, that they are spiritually immoral, infected pariahs, disgusting - to put it quite simply, that they are generally inferior to heterosexuals.
It could be argued that the case of Brown mentioned above was fuelled by personal homophobia and cultural homophobia. According to Blumenfeld cultural homophobia is present when "the social norms or codes of behavior that, although not expressly written into law or policy, nonetheless work within society to legitimize oppression. " The need to criminalize the acts of the gay men in the Brown case shows clear signs of cultural homophobia, as the only way in which the men could face charges was to treat the incident as an assault.
Attempts have been made to criminalize homosexuality as was evidenced in the Woolfenden Report in 1957. This report recommended that the age of majority for homosexuals to engage in sexual intercourse should be increased. It was not until 1967 that the government acted upon this recommendation and introduced the Sexual Offences Act 1967 which stated that sex between homosexuals would be regarded as legal once both parties had attained the age of 21.
Centuries ago it had been common practice to burn homosexuals at the stake for indulging in homosexual activities. This was a punishment that was still in force during the reign of Henry VIII.
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