The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 82
For I believe that the Legislature has a very considerable work to do in connection with this grave business. I believe that all Legislatures have been very remiss of their duty hitherto on this matter, and that if Parliaments, and those who lead them, had done what they ought, male and female prostitution, seduction, illegitimacy, and the evil disease, would never have attained the proportions they have. However, the time has arrived when all the Legislators will be obliged to face the matter. There is a mighty movement continually gathering force in all civilized lands, having as its object the regeneration of the laws so far as they affect the relation of the sexes. I am proud to be a lowly worker in the ranks of this grand party.
Gentlemen, I do not intend to suggest such cruel, degrading, unequal, pettifogging laws as the C. D. Acts of England, or those of Hongkong, Singapore, and Brussels. I do not propose that the Government should employ spy police in plain clothes, or get young women to sign "voluntary submissions" to they know not what; or deny to woman her legal rights; or pay married men out of Government money to commit frequent fornications, as at Hongkong. I shall not rise to such moral heights.
But, as a plain, homespun Englishman, I shall venture to believe in Magna Charta and the Petition of Eight. Audacious creature that I am! I shall venture, with Lord Beaconsfield at Glasgow, to believe in civil equality, that is, the equality of all subjects before the law, and that a law which recognises the personal rights of all subjects is the foundation of a perfect commonwealth—that is, a commonwealth which secures to all its subjects (women as well as men) liberty, and order, and justice.
Gentlemen, I shall stand or fall upon the principle of equality before the law of men and women. I shall not be so shameless as to propose the degradation of men in order that page 5 women may gratify their lust without fear of disease; nor will I venture to infringe on the just liberties of either sex, but keep sacredly in view the personal rights of both sexes. This is my principle; what is sauce for the goose must in law be sauce for the gander!
Gentlemen, I have a great horror of the venereal disease, and desire various measures in order to bring it to an end; but my aim will not accord with that of the C. D. Acts, which the Royal Commission of 1869 said, "is to make the practice of prostitution innocuous." I propose to destroy the disease by a much more root-and-branch policy. I propose to cut off the supply of fresh female prostitutes and so gradually make it more and more difficult for male prostitutes to find means of gatifying their propensities. According to the advocates of State Regulation, female prostitutes, are the great sources of disease, and male prostitutes are the unfortunate victims of these wicked women. Well, now, if we stop the supply of women, then these unfortunate males will not be able to get into mischief! I propose that the laws should be so amended, as much more effectively to shield the purity of young females; and that, in the issue, means the decrease of female prostitution, and the purity and health of the male, and, eventually, of society, as a whole. As this would come about gradually, we should pass from the old to the new and better order of things without a violent shock, which is to be deprecated.