Thursday, 15 March 2018

Peter Hitchens Abolition of Britain Part 2 – Homosexuality

It is nearly twenty years since Peter Hitchens wrote The Abolition of Britain, one of the first books to challenge the near mainstream media hegemony exercised by our politically correct elite who, by stealth, were gradually tightening their grip on policing and controlling the parameters of permissible political discourse on many subjects. This post deals with Hitchens’ views on homosexuality in which he, in contrast to virtually all other commentators, raised the issue of the health dangers arising from homosexual activity.

He opens the chapter on this subject under the title ‘Health Warning’ with the claim that ‘buggery and smoking can both kill you, by exposing you to diseases you would not otherwise get’, each of which are actions of choice. He drew attention to the manner in which the dangers were treated in a contrasting manner. Whilst smokers are always blamed for their illnesses, homosexuals are never chastised for becoming HIV positive or contracting other sexual transmitted diseases. He ridiculed the Government’s warnings of the time aimed at combating the increase in Aids, which spread disinformation that the whole population was equally at risk, when in reality it was specific groups, most notably homosexuals, who faced the greatest danger.

He noted the differing approach between Aids victims, whose cause is promoted by the wearing of red ribbons, whilst smokers who contracted lung cancer and other diseases receive scant public sympathy. Smokers are never advised to practice ‘safer smoking’ but are warned instead to give up the habit completely. In contrast, any doctor suggesting that homosexuals should abstain from their sexual practices would be condemned for being judgemental against a minority group and could face disciplinary action. As Hitchens states ‘there is not even a hint of disapproval of anal sex in official propaganda about Aids’, which instead urges the practice of ‘safer sex’, involving the use of condoms. According to Hitchens the reason why this inconsistency goes unchallenged is due to it being ‘a key part of the cultural revolution, the propagation of a new morality’. He believed ‘this deliberate avoidance of truth was meant to avoid offending or scapegoating homosexuals’.

The logic behind this according to Hitchens is that ‘homosexuality, as an activity, could not be attacked in a society which had accepted heterosexual liberation’. In support of this belief he claimed that ‘the pill had turned heterosexual intercourse into recreation rather than procreation’ as it removed the fear of pregnancy, thus making women more willing to agree to sexual activity. Thus there was now no difference between ‘sterile heterosexual sex and sterile homosexual sex’ and so nobody could logically continue to object to homosexuality, without serious hypocrisy. In reaching this conclusion Hitchens overlooks the fact that heterosexual sex is biologically normal even when contraception is used, unlike homosexual sex which must always remain unnatural. So his accusations of hypocrisy are wide of the mark, since it is more likely that the distaste felt by many towards homosexual activity is what determines the double standard, since recreational heterosexual activity does not arouse the same repulsion.

Hitchens believed that the decriminalisation of homosexual acts was motivated by a ‘wave of tolerance and compassion, intended to lift an awful burden from individuals who were seen as sad victims of a needlessly harsh morality’. MPs could no longer see the justification for a law which frequently led to blackmail, and which could ruin the careers and lives of men amid shame and embarrassment. However Hitchens is sympathetic to the opponents of change who ‘saw quite clearly what was really at issue – legalization would lead to social acceptance’, which in time is what ultimately happened. He reminds us that the general view among educated people then ‘was similar to the hostility people now feel towards child molesters, It was an embarrassing, even disgusting, perversion not spoken of if possible’.

After the passage of more than thirty years he lamented that ‘many of the arguments against legalization have become quite simply unspeakable, because legal acceptance has led first to tolerance and then to respectability’. In fact it has now become worse than Hitchens then feared as we are now urged by liberal ‘progressives’ to celebrate homosexuality as an activity that is somehow intrinsically virtuous.

He outlined how the effect of this change in attitude became cumulative as the significant increase in the number of openly homosexual people made it ‘seem bad manners to criticize the homosexual lifestyle’. As a consequence social disapproval shifted from homosexuals themselves to those who openly disprove of their actions. Hitchens drew attention to the then relatively recent invented word ‘homophobia’, intended to stigmatise ‘the feeling of those who do not accept homosexuality as the equal of homosexuality’. He accurately identified its purpose as being ‘to produce guilt, impute personal failings, even some sort of mental disorder’ against those who might challenge this agenda, describing it as ‘one of the most unpleasant techniques of the new conformism’.

Hitchens ended this chapter by attacking moves to remove the prohibition preventing schools from teaching that ‘homosexuality is a lifestyle choice equal to and comparable with heterosexual marriage’, and also condemned proposals for the introduction of ‘some sort’ of homosexual marriage, which he described as a contradiction in terms. He concluded by noting that equality between homosexuality and heterosexuality, which had been denied as an objective by 1960s reformers, had now become a matter which we are all expected to unquestionably accept.

Peter Hitchens analysis is broadly correct. He is right to stress the dangers of the homosexual lifestyle, although he focuses on the impact of anal sex rather than the bigger problem of rampant promiscuity. This contrasts with the mainstream sanitised version of homosexuality promoted by LGBT History Month, Pride marches etc. The absurdity of so called homosexual marriage, and the malign indoctrination in schools of the supposed normality of homosexuality, are both treated with the contempt they deserve. He sits on the fence on the issue of decriminalisation of homosexual activities, recognising the blackmail threat and personal ruin caused by this private activity. But he also identifies the normalisation and acceptance which lifting the legal prohibition has introduced, and the authoritarian measures that have been adopted to silence opposition to the homosexual normalisation agenda. Unfortunately, although opposed to authoritarianism when practiced by liberals, his apparent willingness to condone authoritarian interference by the state in a private sexual activity of which he disapproves leaves him open to charges of hypocrisy and double standards.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Peter Hitchen’s The Abolition of Britain

It is nearly twenty years since the publication of Peter Hitchen’s The Abolition of Britain. This was one of the first books that provided a political and sociological perspective to challenge the prevailing establishment elite’s agenda of political correctness. It was published at a time when the internet was in its infancy, before broadband, when users were subject to slow and expensive dial-up charges. Thus the liberal elite still retained a tight grip on media expression, where most mainstream right wing or conservative writers appeared more interested in promoting the virtues of free-market global capitalism, than challenging the leftist cultural and social orthodoxies that had grown incrementally since the 1960s.

Peter Hitchens, unlike most nationally recognised media pundits, thinks for himself and makes no concessions to group-think or political correctness. Although his blog posts can be verbose and rambling, his newspaper articles and books are much better focussed. He has an uncanny ability for puncturing the pretensions, hypocrisies and idiocies of self styled ‘progressives’. Behind a somewhat pompous exterior and manner he can demonstrate a dry sense of humour and sometimes even flashes of wit. He has however a number of hobby-horses to which his commitment and enthusiasm can sometimes be at the expense of more rigorous and objective analysis. So it is worth taking a critical examination of The Abolition of Britain to assess whether its findings remain relevant to current day political issues.

Hitchens was motivated to write his book by discovering ‘that a whole system of thought and belief was fast becoming unthinkable and unsayable’, owing to ‘the widespread belief that failure to conform with today’s orthodoxy is a moral failing’. Thus ‘any opposition and dissent cannot be simply reasoned, but must result from a flaw in character. He noted ‘the modern Left’s scorn for freedom … which instinctively reaches for an authoritarian solution to every problem’. Hitchens was among the first to voice publicly what many others were thinking privately, but lacked a platform to do so. With the growth of the internet the public has today been provided with a powerful outlet to voice their true beliefs and concerns, unmediated by the dictates of a self styled ‘progressive’ elite.

The book opens with a catalogue of changes that had occurred in Britain between the funerals of Winston Churchill in 1965 and Princess Diana in 1997. In response to accusations that he is living in the past Hitchens has claimed that there has never been a golden age in Britain to which he wants to return. Nevertheless, he appears most comfortable with the traditional conservative society of the 1950s, before such subversive influences as TV satirists, comprehensive schools and easy divorce had begun to make their mark. Thus he contrasts the dignity, grandeur and restraint of Churchill’s funeral as marking the last expression of the old order, with the outpouring of grief and emotionalism that occurred after the death of Diana. In this he is not being entirely fair since Churchill was a very old man whose death had long been expected, whereas Diana was in the prime of life whose early death was almost unimaginable and thus a great shock to millions of people.

Hitchens lambasts the tendency of liberals to either ignore or rewrite history in conformity with their own obsessions. Thus colonialism, religion, patriarchy, patriotism and mono-culturalism are dismissed as outdated and out of keeping with the multi-cultural, multi-racial, internationalist and gender neutral society which the politically correct class has sought to impose on the rest of us. Hitchens is having none of this virtue signalling subversion. Future posts will examine some of the ideas from his book in more detail.

Monday, 5 March 2018

The identity politics racket part 3 – the LGBT problem

In the past women have suffered discrimination in the jobs market, but for homosexuals it has been much worse, since they have been actively persecuted by the state for their private activities. However, it is worth remembering that the criminalisation and imprisonment of homosexuals once had widespread public support, as shown by the willingness of juries to convict them at a time when unanimous verdicts were required. Nevertheless, parliament was entirely right to decriminalise homosexual activities and by the beginning of the 21st century this minority enjoyed the same legal rights to engage in their preferred private sexual practices as did heterosexuals. So it might reasonably be expected that we would hear no more from them about victimhood. But this has clearly not happened.

The reason for this is that in the mindset of politically correct ‘progressives’ once their favoured groups become identified historically as victims, they continue to remain victims indefinitely even though their victimhood has ended. So to maintain the propaganda message it is necessary for society to be continually reminded of the time when homosexuals were genuine victims. To demonstrate our collective contrition, we are expected to celebrate the ‘diversity’ which those of a LGBT persuasion are supposed to bring to us all, and rejoice how we have now become so much more virtuous in contrast to the bigotry and hatred once practiced by previous generations.

Now that the legal discrimination against homosexuals has ended, there should clearly no longer be any need for politicians, government, local authorities or schools to involve themselves in the LGBT agenda. With regard to the LGB dimension, there can be no justification for politicians or public authorities to promote any particular minority sexual preference, activity or orientation, since this is purely a private matter that should be completely outside the remit of those who seek to govern us. There should be no recognition of so called same sex marriage, although special legal arrangements on inheritance and property rights can be devised for those in a long term relationship.

As outlined previously here the transgender element is based on the delusion that an individual can change the sex into which they were born. People should of course be free to believe that their characteristics and personality are different to the stereotypes of their biological sex. But the rest of society should not be expected to collude in the deception that they are really a woman trapped in a man’s body or vice versa. So there should be no endorsement by the state of the claims these individuals make that they have changed their sex. Nor should they be allowed into the changing rooms or other facilities of the opposite sex, or demand that people or public organisations should recognise their supposed change of sex and address them accordingly. For those individuals who are so mentally disturbed that they are intent on mutilating their bodies, or being injected with the hormones of the opposite sex, the law should intervene in their own best interests to protect them from this clearly deleterious propensity, as is currently done with FGM.

LGBT activists are not content to just play the victim card ad nauseum, they also want to control the parameters of permissible discourse. Instead of welcoming debate through argument and reason, they follow the usual blueprint for leftist agitation by shutting down challenges to their agenda by means of pejorative accusations, in this case of ‘homophobia’ and ‘transphobia’. So we have now reached the situation where the LGBT lobby can silence any criticism of their objectives by using the power of the state to criminalise as a ‘hate crime’ those who challenge their sensitivities.

Another disturbing development is the extent to which the homosexual lobby has infiltrated schools with LGBT history month and other measures in which they condition young children into accepting the supposed normality and naturalness of their lifestyle and practices, and promote the celebration of same sex relationships. This behaviour confirms how absolutely right the Thatcher government was in the 1980s to introduce the Section 28 legislation to prevent this kind of pernicious indoctrination of youth. Similar measures need to be reintroduced today if we are to prevent children being brainwashed into believing that homosexual relations are what is normal, and that male heterosexual attraction is by its nature deemed to be predatory and exploitive. This is the likely outcome towards which the current malignant alliance of misandric feminists and obsessive homosexual activists appear to be leading us.

Monday, 26 February 2018

The identity politics racket part 2 - the woman problem

In theory, because of the numbers involved, women should constitute the largest element in the identity politics racket. However, in practice, most women refuse to play the feminist identity politics card, recognising the underlying anti-male motivation behind it. Thus it is left to a highly vocal cohort of leftist feminists, usually professional women, to pursue the victim agenda. Their original demands for equal pay, an end to barriers to women in some professions, and for maternity leave were all necessary reforms to rectify past injustices. But in time, the real agenda of these feminists, to disempower and emasculate men, gradually became more apparent.

With the implementation of the Sex Discrimination Act and the introduction of maternity leave, the major obstacles to equality of opportunity in the workplace for women had largely been achieved. But instead of congratulating themselves on mission accomplished, feminists made fresh demands, prompted by an ideological belief in the myth that women continued to be helpless victims of a male patriarchy which in reality has long since disappeared. Instead of taking advantage of the new equality of opportunity that now became available to them; the more militant feminists complained that they continued to face injustice because the pay gap between men and women had not been eradicated. Thus the emphasis changed from seeking equality of opportunity to demanding equality of outcome, regardless of whether the latter might be merited or justified.

There are many reasons why the pay of women does not equal that of men. Most importantly many women out of choice take a career break to look after young children. In addition, relatively few women are interested in outdoor jobs which require hard hats and high visibility vests and which require turning out in all weathers. Women tend to be more attracted to the caring professions which mostly pay less, and they are less willing to seek overtime or unsocial hours work. For all these reasons and more women will never achieve pay equality with men, and the belief that they can is thus a chimera which will never be realised. The time has long since gone when we need to appease the special pleading of disgruntled feminists on this issue, since their demands are outside the control of both government and employers to deliver. So the hullabaloo they continue to raise on this unattainable grievance should be firmly resisted.

Feminists ostensibly claim equality, but what they appear to be seeking instead is special protection from the rough and tumble of the workplace. Thus they seek ever more prescriptive regulation and control of the relationships between men and women under the guise of preventing sexual harassment. Unsolicited sexual advances in the work environment have never been tolerated by employers; although in the past men may have got away with this kind of behaviour simply because women refused to challenge it. So women themselves should, in the first instance, develop the personal resilience to handle this kind of nuisance. In larger organisations, if this behaviour continues then they can raise the matter with their line manager or the human resources department, when the offender can be called in for a formal warning. It should not be the responsibility of employers to police or micro-manage the personal relations of their staff. Feminists are currently using the stick of sexual harassment, now expressed with catch all vagueness as ‘inappropriate behaviour’, as a weapon to brand all men as predators.

Identity politics creates its own brand of ‘progressive’ stereotypes. Men are portrayed as predatory sex pests who need to be policed and controlled. Women are presented as victims who require protection by extensive and invasive personal regulations. The current agenda of feminists to portray themselves as ‘vulnerable’ whenever confronted with the ever threatening male is likely to backfire. If women are really as helpless as the current breed of feminists make out, forever in need of an extensive chaperoning regime to protect them from male colleagues, it needs to be asked whether they should be allowed into the workplace at all.

Pejorative put downs such as ‘sexist’ and ‘chauvinist’ targeted at male colleagues are intended to intimidate and silence them into submission. They are invariably an attack on male heterosexuality, demonstrating feminist arrogance insofar as they claim to be speaking for all women, most of whom do not share their anti male neuroses. So we all need a break from feminist whingeing, griping negativity in which they appear intent on returning women to the protectiveness and purity of the Victorian age.

Friday, 16 February 2018

The identity politics racket – Part 1 the conservative legacy

Over the past few decades the British people have been living through a slow motion coup, in which the main institutions have increasingly become occupied by cultural Marxists imposing the ideology of political correctness on the nation. Unfortunately, their task was made easier by some of the historical baggage inherited from earlier generations.

Although there was a gradual improvement throughout the first half of the 20th century, by the early 1960s Britain was still a relatively unequal society in which individuals could be openly discriminated against purely on the basis of their sex, race and sexual orientation. Thus liberals and progressives of that time were easily able to portray themselves in a positive way as modern, forward looking, free thinking, open minded champions for a more enlightened society, in contrast to the reactionary, self satisfied, privileged and hidebound conservative establishment which then controlled most of the levers of power.

This conservative consensus began to break down from the mid 1960s onwards with the rise in feminism, opposition to racial injustice and a more frank and open discussion of sexual matters. So some of the early demand of liberals clearly addressed problems that needed rectifying such as the granting of equal pay for women, an end to discrimination in public services for black people and the repeal of legislation which criminalised male homosexuality. So given the reasonableness of some of the early progressive demands it was clearly right that they were conceded.

Not everybody was happy with these changes but they had the strong support of educated and activist young people newly benefiting from the expansion in university education. Since liberals were largely pushing at an open door with their early demands, their self confidence grew and their claims became more vocal. In contrast, the conservative establishment found itself increasingly placed on the defensive.

Future posts in this series will explore how these reforms to rectify past injustices and to promote equality of opportunity gradually morphed into the current obsession by liberals with the pernicious practice of identity politics. The posts will consider in turn how this development has impacted on the politics of gender, race and sexual orientation, and allowed an extensive an entrenched victim culture to develop in all these categories.

Friday, 2 February 2018

Homosexual equality delayed

This blog has previously explored the odyssey of the British political establishment from its detestation and criminalisation of homosexuality in the 1950s to its detestation and criminalisation of homophobia today. As outlined here and here 1950s parliamentarians set their face against any liberalisation of the law against male homosexual activities. By the late 1960s the climate had changed sufficiently to allow decriminalisation for men over 21, but homosexuality was still widely condemned as shown here . Twenty years later disapproval continued at a high level sufficient to ban the promotion of homosexuality in schools as described here . However, by 1994 many parliamentarians had reached the conclusion that the time was right for young homosexuals to be given the same rights as heterosexuals.

Conservative MP Edwina Currie proposed an amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill that would reduce the age of consent for male homosexual activities from 21 to 16. She declared that ‘homosexuality in this country is subject to enforced discrimination, which is now out of date, indefensible and way out of line with the rest of the civilised world. Most nations have the same age of consent for straight and for gay sexual activity - and have done for years, with no problems at all. They do not bother to make any distinction, even when the age is lower than it is here.’

Mrs Currie reminded colleagues that a case had been brought before the European Court of Human Rights, which she believed would have an excellent chance of success. Her view was that ‘the state should be kept out of the personal lives of the men and women of this country. Everyone is entitled to his or her privacy. What my neighbours get up to in private is their business and not mine, and it is not for the state to interfere’. These are in principle commendable objectives which governments have continued to ignore up to the present, not just for sexual activity but also in respect of recreational drugs and viewing images deemed ‘indecent’ or supporting terrorism.

Mrs Currie drew attention to the effect criminalisation had on ‘young men seeking help, whether through counselling, health advice or sex education. They are too scared to come forward and ask for help, as to do so would involve identifying themselves as breaking the criminal law, so they do not come forward’. This argument would apply equally to today’s young teenagers, but there appears to be no appetite from politicians to change the law to allow problems such as those described to be rectified, and which still form part of young teenagers’ experience.

Despite a massive propaganda campaign over the previous quarter century to promote the normality of homosexual activity not all MPs had been persuaded. One Conservative MP asked ‘on the issue of equality before the law, does the hon. lady realise that it is neither natural nor normal to carry out homosexual activity? That is why there has to be protection for young boys. It is a different matter if they participate in that which is normal and natural, but if they are guided into activities that are neither normal nor natural, protection is required.’ Whilst his observations about natural sexual activity are undoubtedly correct, he failed to justify why private unnatural activity needs to be criminalised, incurring potentially lengthy jail sentences.

Mrs Currie drew attention to an anomaly which more broadly still continues to be unaddressed ‘that the age at which a boy can be held to be guilty of rape was recently reduced from 14 to 10, but in law he is judged to be absolutely incapable of making up his own mind’ about his sexual orientation until he is 21. Society still appears to hold the contradictory view that young males as young as 10 years are fully aware of what they are doing when they commit sexual crimes, yet at the age of 15 are still presumed to be in a state of ignorance, innocence or immaturity to consent to sexual activity. It clearly makes logical sense for the two to be harmonised, most reasonably at the post pubertal age of 13 which would become the age of sexual responsibility. This reform would still protect genuine children, bring about an end to state meddling in personal and private activity that is widely practiced by young teens, and would have the additional merit of removing the current widespread societal pathology over normal sexual attraction, as well as removing barriers for those seeking help and advice on sexual matters.

Mrs Currie addressed the fear that ‘changing the law would result in rapacious, middle-aged homosexuals hanging around school gates, waiting to seduce young boys’ by sensibly declaring ‘I wonder whether anyone ever talks to young people. Most of them are inevitably and naturally seeking relationships with people of their own age. One year is the average age gap between partners at their first sexual experience. The idea that teenagers might be attracted to some wrinkled old biddy is preposterous’. The hysteria that still prevails on this matter overlooks the deep physical repugnance felt by most young teenagers to anyone who looks older than the typical members of a boy or girl pop band.

The Home Secretary Michael Howard, although allowing a free vote, personally opposed Mrs Currie’s amendment citing the Wolfenden Report from 1957 which concluded that ‘a boy is incapable at the age of 16 of forming a mature judgement about actions of a kind which might have the effect of setting him apart from the rest of society’. He considered that the key question was ‘to determine an age at which most young men could be said to be mature enough to take a decision on these matters for themselves’, adding that ‘there will still be some young men for whom a homosexual experience after age 16 will have a profoundly influential and potentially disturbing effect’. This may well be true but youths in such a situation should have been provided with sufficient guidance to have developed enough resilience and confidence to make their views perfectly clear by refusing consent and thus avoid entanglement in the criminal justice system. Mr Howard concluded that ‘the way of life that we are currently discussing involves an abandonment of the possibility of marriage and children, which sets those people who choose it apart and which requires the criminal law to give all the protection that it can to the young and vulnerable before they are confirmed in that orientation and before they take that decision’.

The shadow Home Secretary Tony Blair supported the amendment stressing that ‘let us be clear about the issue before us tonight. It is not at what age we wish young people to have sex. It is whether the criminal law should discriminate between heterosexual and homosexual sex. It is therefore an issue not of age, but of equality’. Mr Blair in making this statement encapsulated the main justification of those MPs who supported reducing to 16 the age of consent to homosexual activities. Mr Blair continued ‘I do not believe that sexuality is determined by persuasion. The overwhelming evidence suggests that being homosexual is not something that people catch, are taught or persuaded into, but something that they are’. This was a viewpoint that the majority of people had by then come to share, in contrast to the alarmism that underpinned the 1950s debates. Mr Blair concluded ‘that people are entitled to think that homosexuality is wrong, but they are not entitled to use the criminal law to force that view upon others’.

One interesting statistic that emerged from the debate was that ‘in 1990, 1991 and 1992 there were respectively nine, ten and twelve prosecutions for homosexual offences between those aged 21 and over and those under 21. This contrasts with the figures cited in the 1950s debate when over 90% of prosecutions involved a male below the age of 21. In practice the number of prosecutions of unlawful but consensual sexual activity has only ever affected a minuscule proportion of those engaged in such behaviour.

Mrs Currie’s amendment was lost due mainly to the opposition of her fellow Conservative MPs, but a separate amendment reducing the age to 18 was passed. In so doing MPs signalled their view that an activity which had previously carried a maximum sentence of five years should never have been a crime in the first place. They also confirmed that earlier societal fears relating to the need to offer protection, through the criminal justice system, to those deemed vulnerable had been exaggerated. With the election of a Labour government possessing a huge parliamentary majority the equalisation of the law on the age of consent for homosexual activity was eventually achieved in 2001.

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Victoria Gillick vs the progressives

This blog has come into some flack from the website Biased BBC, for this post about the Rotherham grooming scandal. Biased BBC is undoubtedly correct when it castigates the BBC for its politically correct bias, but predictably some of its commentators suffer from their own confirmation bias. The ill informed comments there overlook a number of facts, namely that the 1400 victims figure bears absolutely no relation to the less than twenty who have been involved in criminal prosecutions, that the girls in care homes were free to come and go as they please within the rules, that none of the girls made complaints to the authorities or police who were thus in ignorance of what was going on, that the Muslim predators acted in opposition to their professed religion not because of it, and that a significant percentage of young white teen girls also engage in sexual activities with youths of their own race without any apparent harm from this experience. This blog has never condoned this kind of activity by young teens because of the dangers of pregnancy and disease, but neither has it regarded such behaviour as a pathology which requires intrusion by the law. This post made a passing reference to what is known as the ‘Gillick competence’ which is examined in more detail below.

Victoria Gillick, a devout Roman Catholic with ten children, was responsible for bringing a legal challenge in the early 1980s against her health authority which had a policy of prescribing contraceptives to underage teenage girls, without their parents’ knowledge. The health authority was complying with a Department of Health circular which stated that the prescription of contraceptives was a matter for the doctor's discretion and that they could be prescribed to under sixteens without parental consent. In her legal challenge Mrs Gillick sought a ruling that the prescription of contraceptives to under age girls must be illegal because the doctor would be committing an offence of encouraging sex with a minor, and that it would be treatment without consent as consent in such a matter rests with the parents.

There was clearly some justification for Mrs Gillick’s concern as parents, in their wish to protect their child’s welfare, would certainly want to be informed about whether their daughters of this age were being prescribed contraceptives. She was supported by many on the right who shared her concerns and wished to bolster traditional sexual morality. However, those on the left were hostile to her campaign, sometimes vociferously so. The case went all the way to the House of Lords which ruled against Mrs Gillick. So what were the arguments that persuaded the Law Lords to effectively condone under age sexual activity and to undermine parental authority in the upbringing of children?

The Law Lords in deciding the case considered that the main issue was whether a female minor was capable of understanding a doctor’s advice and concluded that in respect of contraceptive advice she would be able to do so. In this respect a doctor could provide contraceptives to the minor if the girl could not be persuaded to inform her parents and would be likely to still engage in sexual activity. Additional factors were the potential effects on the physical or mental health of the girl if contraceptive advice was refused. Given these factors the Law Lords concluded that her best interest would be served if contraceptive advice and treatment was given without the parents’ knowledge. As a consequence of this judgement parents cannot prevent minors consenting to family planning treatment if they are of sufficient maturity to decide the matter themselves.

It has to be said that the arguments for and against this decision are finely balanced, and before the case came to the House of Lords, the Court of Appeal took a different view, as did a minority of the Law Lords, one opining that ‘the practice of secretly providing contraceptive services to girls under the age of 16 encourages participation in sexual intercourse which offends basic principles of morality and religion’. This was a viewpoint which Mrs Gillick, motivated by her religion, very much endorsed as sinful, but which was an anathema to progressive thinking of the time.

Nevertheless, the primary risk to be considered is an unwanted pregnancy that will likely cause enormous mental and social problems for a young teen girl. As we have seen from the Rotherham case, it is not possible for parents or guardians to supervise and monitor teenagers all the time, and thus providing contraceptives without parental knowledge is the lesser evil in these circumstances, which moreover demonstrates responsible behaviour. The judgement came down on the side of the autonomy of teenagers to regulate their personal lives on this matter, rather than having it determined for them by parents. This was applauded by progressives but denounced by social conservatives.

Progressive liberal thinking at that time was critical of Mrs Gillick’s objectives. Many of them noted that she took a hostile attitude towards sexual permissiveness and they accused her of being anti-sex. She was denounced in one leftist pamphlet as part of ‘right wingers hang-ups about sex, their objective as far as possible is to stamp out sexual activity outside marriage. This is the main object of their campaigns’. One prominent left wing feminist described her campaign as ‘calling up the social purity movement of the 19th century….to save their daughters from sex’. Agony aunts declared that ‘individuals have the right to choose their lifestyles from about the age of 12 or 13’.

Sentiments such as these were echoed more broadly in the Dame Janet Smith BBC Savile report in which many commentators observed that during this period ‘people were not as aware of the significance of the age of consent as we are today, there was a much more relaxed approach to this question’, and that the important thing was ‘to help the girl avoid pregnancy’. Certainly the prevailing attitude at the time amongst liberals and progressives was that underage sexual activity by young teenagers was not much of an issue, not surprising given their general hostility to what they regarded as the repressive conservative and religious sexual morality which prevailed during the 1950s and earlier, and which they were keen to dismantle through the promotion of sexual permissiveness.

This was all before the paranoia over ‘child sexual abuse’ became established, promoted by children’s charities and adopted by feminists. Under this agenda the incidence and impact of sexual activity by children under the age of puberty is greatly exaggerated with the intention of creating alarm and demonising men, although it is clearly wrong as it must always involve exploitation if an adult is involved. In addition, the definition of a child, requiring state protection and surveillance, has been expanded upwards to include younger teenagers. Since feminism is an integral part of the politically correct agenda, progressives have now adopted the outlook of the moralistic right wingers they once mocked. They are now as virulently hostile to young teenage sexual activity as the traditional conservative moralists, but are much more inclined to use the power of the state to police such activity. As progressives have morphed from free wheeling bohemians into heavy handed puritans, it can only be a matter of time before they succeed in reversing the Gillick judgement, given the calls that it should be made a criminal offence not to report suspicions of ‘child sexual abuse’.