Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria University, Wellington N.Z. Vol. 22, No. 10. September 14, 1959
A Discussion of the Crimes Bill — Law and the Homosexual
A Discussion of the Crimes Bill
Law and the Homosexual
Just a couple of weeks ago Professor A. L. Goodhart, an eminent English jurist of American background, breezed into Wellington to have a look at what he considered to be the most judicially progressive country in the British Commonwealth.
Particularly was he impressed with the proposed new Crimes Bill. He was feted by lawyers as befitted his position, and listened to with respect.
Now these same lawyers, faced with some rather sweeping progress in the Bill are claiming they haven't had sufficient time to consider it, and suggesting Attorney-General Mason doesn't know what he is doing, and indirectly that Professor Goodhart doesn't know what he is talking about.
And the principal cause of all the houha? Not as one might think the severer penalties for some crimes (and there might be good grounds to be concerned about that), but the move toward separating morals from Criminal Law.
The Bill suggests the practice of homosexuality between consenting male adults should no longer be considered an offence against the State; suddenly everyone is up in arms.
Perhaps we shouldn't "shed tears for queers" as a current writer in "The Statesman" suggests; but surely this rather-hard-to-understand practice is of concern to the people involved, and perhaps the Church, if they belong to one and no one else.
One Wellington lawyer is reported in the "Evening Post" as being shocked at the leniency. Inevitably he points out that once homosexual acts were hanging offences and seems to suggest they should still be.
The argument seemed to be that the act was unnatural (he presumably being an arbiter of nature as well as law) and abominable, which many may think it is—but is it criminal?
Recently the Wolfeden report was presented to the House of Commons alter months of research into all aspects of so-called vice. One of the recommendations was to free the law regarding consenting adults. The House was beset with much the same trouble as we seemed to be faced with here, and nothing has been done.
Mr Mason has denied this report had any influence on his decision. Why we don't know, for it makes eminent backing to his case. Perhaps, though it seems unlikely, he has come to the decision by sheer force of logic. This is a matter of justice not prejudice.
What is the alternative? At present an offender may or may not get adequate psychiatric treatment. But anyway, he will be sent to prison where he will mix with more of his unfortunate friends.
The criminality seems to lie in that he is different, but then so is the celibate priest and he is lauded (though how the celibacy can be considered a natural state except arbitrarily is a moot question).
What is even more ludicrous is that the Lesbian, "the female" counterpart, by law does not exist and therefore presumably escapes hanging.
The homosexual who encourages others into the life, assaults young children and generally upsets the liberty of the individual is no less a blot than the rapist.
But the maladjusted who keeps to himself and his own kind isn't doing harm to anybody except himself and surely that's his business.