A step forward? 50 years since the Sexual Offences Act

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The National Archives is pleased to announce an exciting series of events to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Sexual Offences Act, which partially decriminalised homosexual acts in England and Wales. Records held at The National Archives tell an essential part of this story from the 1957 Wolfenden Report recommendations to decriminalise homosexuality, to the build-up and passing of the Act itself.

On Saturday 22nd July ‘A step forward?: 50 years since the Sexual Offences Act’ will take a closer look at the key documents within The National Archives’ collection and invites an exciting range of speakers to shed light on this pivotal legal moment.

Sammy Sturgess will talk about the lives of men from 1953 to the ’67 Act, followed by Mark Dunton on the passage of the Sexual Offences Act itself. Caroline Derry will talk about the absences from the official record, focusing on Wolfenden’s silent women, with Jeffrey Weeks closing the event with a talk about life after the 67 act.

A special Polari workshop with Dan Glass and Chris Park will reflect on the realities of life before the change in law, how did men manage to live freely and evade the law?

A long side this will be chance to see a curated display of original documents, highlighting key LGBTQ+ related records from our collections. The National Archives’ collections reflect significant moments and milestones in LGBTQ+ history and give valuable insight into how government interacted with and viewed LGBTQ+ communities in the past.

Additionally our Hands on History event Out in the archives, 25th July, enables you to explore our documents. From the calling card of transgender diplomat Chevalier d’Eon to records pertaining to the lively Shim Sham Club, this unique occasion will open up a conversation around governmental attitudes of the past in order to reconfigure our perspective on the future.

Event link here