The Church of England and the Origins of Homosexual Law Reform


Graham Willett

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That the Church of England was an active and public supporter of homosexual law reform during the long debate on the issue in England between 1957 and 1967 is reasonably well known. It released reports and documents justifying and arguing for decriminalisation, and its bishops in the House of Lords were among those voting in favour in 1965. In this article, relying upon archival materials that have been only rarely used, I demonstrate that the Church's support went much deeper than is often assumed. Beginning in 1952, a process of theological reconsideration and behind the scenes lobbying lead by a relatively small group of thinkers made the Church an initiator in the reform process. Relying upon Rochon's notion of a “critical community,” I offer a description and explanation for the Church's role.

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Journal Article

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