02.01.1994

A licence to deprave

A licence to deprave
 
Lowering the age of homosexual consent should be resisted, argues LYNETTE BURROWS
 
THE House of Commons is to have a free vote on whether to lower the age of consent for homo­sexuals from 21 to 18, or 16. Edwina Currie, who is putting the case for reform on behalf of the Tories, argues, with impec­cable excess, that since a young man can join the Army, have children and marry at 17, he ought to be allowed to embrace a homosexual life-style at the same age.
 
It is a curious point of view from a one-time health minister who helped to make smoking more difficult for 16-year-olds. Research recently published in Washington by the Family Research Institute shows that a homosexual lifestyle reduces life expectancy from 75 to 42. Furthermore, the head of the BMA's ethics committee recently pointed out that a higher proportion of young men between 16 and 25 contract the Aids virus than in any other age group, but this Mrs Currie took, with her own brand of logic, to mean that the age of consent should be lowered so that they could be given more help and advice.
 
However, the purely utilitar­ian argument against encourag­ing homosexual behaviour on health grounds, though easier to argue, does not really go to the heart of the matter. Given that there are a number of people born with or, more likely, who develop a preference for their own sex, what are they to do with their lives that will not ensure an untimely end; and how are they to reconcile their difference from others in a way that offers them personal fulfil­ment and the respect and love of their fellow humans?
 
The answer the utilitarians have come up with is quite trag­ically wrong-headed. Homosex­uals have made their sexuality the centre and definition of their lives. The word homosexual is not used as an adjective that describes certain behaviour but as a noun that defines the whole person in purely sexual terms. This deeply alien concept they would dearly like people to accept uncontentiously; but it cannot be done for two reasons.
 
Firstly, they are asking for a rational response in an area where an instinctive one is far more likely. Secondly, the understanding they are demand­ing from society is not even extended by society to hetero­sexuals who encourage and exalt promiscuous behaviour. Despite the depredations of a liberal culture that is more than 30 years old, we still expect men, including public figures, to be faithful to their wives. Some sexual discipline, including abstinence when required, is expected in life, and any group that suggested otherwise would be dismissed as libertarian cranks.
 
Promiscuous behaviour on the scale that is common among homosexuals would be quite suf­ficient not only to render a het­erosexual man unsuitable for most responsible jobs, but also to bring him into contempt with his fellows. Promiscuity is uni­versally condemned as ignoble, and the criteria are no different when applied to men and women with a homosexual orientation.
 
The ambiguity of homosexual activists is that they want parity with heterosexuals — hence the demand for the age of homosex­ual consent to be reduced to 18; and Sir Ian McKellen says noth­ing else will do. At the same time some of them support an ethic that can only be described as a culture of whoredom. Whether they all wanted it or not, homosexuals have been assiduously projected in terms of a rampant, value-free sexual­ity which they themselves never criticise. However, they are deeply hurt when people recoil in horror from such a travesty of human relationships.
 
The fact is that men of an obvi­ously homosexual orientation have been prominent in many positions of trust before the attention-seeking of the promis­cuous activists cast a shadow on them all. Sharing a common moral and religious sense, and being sensitive to how their ori­entation would affect others, they either sublimated their sex­ual energy into blameless work­ing lives or, if they were sexually active, were so entirely private that they gave scandal to no one.
 
Ironically, it was the strength of the taboo against homosexual behaviour which gave them this freedom to be their eccentric selves. And it is the parading of the most sordid aspects of their behaviour now — often by a cyn­ical media — which has made their present position so much more fragile.
 
One has only to cast one's mind back a few years to remember the early Morecambe and Wise shows where the two comedians would regularly be in bed together at the beginning of a programme, discussing the day's events. Laurel and Hardy, too, were frequently seen in bed together; and it is difficult for young people today to imagine that such a scene could be free of any sexual overtones. The irre­placeable richness of friendship has been so taken over and sexualised in the past few years that no man or woman now dares to show overt affection to someone of the same sex for fear of pro­voking leering, knowing glances all around.
 
However, the confident effrontery which is fuelling this relentless assault on people's deeply felt sense of right and wrong is almost certain to have another effect in time. Morality is both a private and a public affair and, though people may call a public man who does not fulfil the moral norms in his private life a hypocrite, they do
not feel that the body of morals by which we all live are seriously weakened by his actions.
 
However, it is another matter when the law acts to sanction what is widely felt to be immoral. If the feeling grows that morality is simply anything that the ruling class wants, then it makes it all the easier for people to vote for people who give them more of the kind of morality they wish for.
 
This is not fanciful; it has hap­pened once this century in the Weimar Republic which pre­ceded the Third Reich in Ger­many, where every kind of devi­ance flourished, including homosexuality, until the people decided they wanted a different kind of morality and voted for a man who, among other things, herded the homosexuals into concentration camps.
 
The point about the attempt by career homosexuals to force people to condone their activi­ties is that they are attacking the very edifice of traditional moral­ity that protects them. It is a fact that every "Gay Pride" march or demonstration is followed by an increase in attacks on homosex­uals by groups of men who no doubt believe they are showing "Macho Pride"; and what moral system yet devised could distin­guish between the whips and chains of the sado-masochists and the bricks and sticks of the other side?
 
MPs should debate long and hard the part of the Criminal Justice Bill which would lower the age of homosexual consent, and then they should refuse to change it. It is surely obvious to all but the most inanely liberal that there have already been far too many talented and valuable people dying as a result of the explosion of promiscuousness that accompanied homosexual behaviour being made legal in the 1960s. The Government should recognise this by refus­ing to give even token encouragement to those who seem incapable of seeing that society imposes restrictions upon itself, ultimately, for the good of all.