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Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 27, No. 14. 1964.

"Beyond The Pale..."

page 5

"Beyond The Pale..."

Attitudes towards sexual offenders in general, and homosexuals in particular, tend to be quite different from those that are expressed towards any other type of offender, said Mr. A. J. W. Taylor, student counsellor at VUW.

This was exemplified by criminals themselves, who had a social structure in which homosexuals were placed in the lower classes. Why this differential condemnation?

Mr. Taylor explained this by observing that many people feel threatened by the phenomenon of homosexuality, whether or not they have had homosexual experience and whether or not they have ever known a homosexual. Their fears are such that it is almost impossible for them to discuss homosexuality on a rational level. In fact, they regard those who try to understand the personality disorder as homosexuals.

HE illustrated the truth of this by citing the report of the Wolfenden Commission which, he said, was an outstandingly liberal and well-written official document. Nonetheless, it caused a considerable controversy in England.

This inquiry was prompted by the prosecution of many prominent people on charges of homo-sexuality. Emphasising that there exist many varieties of homosexual behaviour, some less serious than others, and that different age groups may be Involved. Mr. Taylor pointed out that at least the prosecutions in England had made people realise that male homosexuals could and did make valuable contributions to society.

Repercussions in NZ

"The repercussions of the Wolfenden report and of the Kinsey studies on the prevalence of homosexual behaviour were felt in New Zealand during the 1959 elections," he said. "Some candidates were asked to state their attitudes towards the reduction in the maximum sentence for homosexuality under one of the early revisions of the Crimes Act. So sensitive were the electorates and so precarious were, perhaps, the candidates' chances, that nobody attempted to explain that the revision was not to license homosexuality between consenting adult males in private, but merely to reduce their maximum penalties to three years."

But in New Zealand fears of homosexuality ran deep, so deep that we were often unlust to homosexuals. Homosexuals were blamed both for corrupting our society and for being symptoms of its decay. Mr. Taylor quoted the example of security; homosexuals were regarded as security risks until some prominent cases and autobiographies of spies showed that heterosexuals were no more reliable than homosexuals in matters of state.

In connection with the social ostracism of homosexuals, he mentioned the research of Dr. Sherwin Bailey, of the Anglican Moral Welfare Committee. Dr. Bailey's explanation is far less salacious than the common reference to Sodom. Gomorrah. Ancient Greece and Rome, and the corruption which the "sin" of homosexuality caused in these cases.


Mr. Taylor commented that "another aggressive and defensive reaction is that homosexuality is 'unnatural.' This implies that homosexuals are less than human because their sexual behaviour does not lead to procreation. The logic of this argument cannot be taken too far because of the fallacy of suggesting that the unmarried, or those who are childless or who plan their family, are necessarily 'unnatural'."

He said he thought that once we regarded homosexuals as less than human we were liable to use them as scapegoats lor our sundry grievances.

The conclusion Mr. Taylor drew is that our laws are quite properly shaped to preserve mature heterosexuality: but with our outright condemnation of homosexuality, we sometimes exceed the measures necessary to reinforce hetero sexuality. We even give tacit approval to the less responsible to exploit and blackmail homosexuals.

If homosexuality were tolerated, Mr. Taylor doubted whether there would result an Increase in this form of sexual behaviour.

Hagley Park Case

He declined to give an opinion on the Hagley Park case because he was not present at the trial; nor was he in possession of all the facts.

Mr. Roger Clark. Junior lecturer in jurisprudence and constitutional law, said that the Hagley Park decision was certainly unusual. (Reasons need not be given by a jury, but the grounds for the acquittal were presumably that no single offender could be found guilty).

He added that the Crimes Bill of 1959 reduced maximum sentences, but the public outcry was such that the bill was not passed.

The homosexual's position in New Zealand society was as unenviable as it ever was. These were the maximum prison sentences to which he was liable:
1.Indecency, indecent assault, between man and boy, seven years.
2.Between adult males, five years.
3.Sodomy between a male and a female, 14 years.
4.Sodomy between males—seven years.

It is a curious reflection upon sexual values in this country that the maximum sentence for bestiality is no greater than that for sodomy between males (seven years). It is Just as curious that lesbians are not punishable under New Zealand law: perhaps they are considered less harmful to the community (after all, what can they do?)

Finally, anyone owning or operating a resort for homosexual acts is liable to a sentence of 10 years. Perhaps it is thought that this is the only way to reduce the incidence of this sinful behaviour in the community. From corruption guard our state.