But What Can They Do in Bed Anyway? Lesbian Sexuality and the Law

lesbian sexuality and the law

Female same sex acts have never been outlawed in the UK (at least in civilian society). It’s sometimes suggested that this was because Queen Victoria didn’t believe such a thing existed. But how true is this theory?

Join Jenny White of Warp & Weft to explore historical beliefs about female biology and sexual desire, and to examine how lesbian lives were policed in laws designed to tie women to a husband, children and the home.

lesbian sexuality and the lawUsing a variety of sources from the 1700s – 1900s, Jenny will reveal how denial and censorship were key strategies used to control sex between women. These include court papers from an infamous libel trial in 1811 where a judge proclaimed “the crime of one woman giving another the clitoris, is a crime which is impossible in this country to commit”; and transcripts from the House of Lords debate on the proposal  to outlaw Acts of Gross Indecency by female persons in 1921 – “you are going to tell the whole world that there is such an offence, to bring it to the notice of women who have never heard of it, never thought of it, never dreamed of it. I think that is a very great mischief”.

The presentation will also highlight how until relatively recently lesbian women faced losing their jobs and custody of their children due to homophobia, with no protection from the law.

Jenny White is one of nine volunteer Community Curators who have developed a ground breaking exhibition at the People’s History Museum, Manchester exploring the fight for LGBT+ rights. Never Going Underground is on show from 25 February to 3 September 2017.

Jenny will be presenting at:
OUTing the Past: Bournemouth – Saturday 18 February, 3.50pm – 4.20pm
OUTing the Past: Manchester – Sunday 26 February,  2.30pm – 3.00pm