Sexual Offences Act 1967 Debate

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Department: Home Office

Sexual Offences Act 1967

Lord Lexden Excerpts
Tuesday 18th July 2017

(4 years, 3 months ago)

Lords Chamber

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Home Office

Asked by

Lord Lexden Portrait Lord Lexden
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To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they are planning to mark the 50th anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act 1967.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Williams of Trafford) (Con)
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My Lords, we have a whole programme of events during July to celebrate both Pride and the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality. Ministers will be holding events with stakeholders throughout the month and departments will be flying the rainbow flag above their offices. We will also be releasing videos to celebrate the progress we have made over the past 50 years and demonstrate our support for Pride.

Lord Lexden Portrait Lord Lexden (Con)
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I thank my noble friend for her Answer, which underlines the importance of this anniversary. Does she agree that although an immense amount has been achieved over the period of 50 years since 1967, there is more still to do, most notably, perhaps, the extension of same-sex marriage to Northern Ireland, where, as opinion polls consistently show, widespread support exists for it? Perhaps it would be appropriate today also to salute the memory of the late Lord Arran, who campaigned so tenaciously from the Liberal Benches for his reform legislation, which completed its passage through this House on 21 July 1967. He had a second Bill on the protection of badgers, which did not pass. Asked why his first Bill succeeded and the second failed, he replied cheerily, and a little irreverently, “Well, you see there aren’t many badgers in the House of Lords”.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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My Lords, there are not many badgers in the House of Lords but one might see the odd mouse. My noble friend makes a very valid point. Northern Ireland might peer south to southern Ireland, which has just elected its first gay Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, the son of an Indian Immigrant. That is progress indeed. I join my noble friend in paying tribute to the late Lord Arran. Civil partnerships have been legal in Northern Ireland since 2004, but we encourage it to introduce equal marriage. There are currently two challenges to bans on same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland. Ultimately, it is a devolved matter but we continue to encourage it.