🌈Pride in Scottish History 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿

[IndyLive Research Contents]

As it’s Pride season, with MardiGla just having taken place in Glasgow there, I thought we’d get into how those found to be attracted to the same sex have been treated throughout our history. I did turn up in my rainbow unicorn onesie to see off the rainbow clad marchers, though I was between two 10 hour night shifts so I couldn’t enjoy the day with them. The result of my researches suggests to me that this was really a men’s rights issue, for the right to love freely. As men were making the laws and deciding the punishments, yet those same men couldn’t conceive of female sexuality, the idea those of a female persuasion could be attracted into seeking relationships with each other seemed the furthest thing from their minds. Men caught with each other, however, were tarred with the biblical label of sodomites and charged with buggery which had a death sentence attached until only a couple of hundred years ago, and was only officially legalised here in Scotland in 1980. I don’t feel I have to describe what’s meant by buggery to any of you but sodomy wasn’t so clear cut & wasn’t necessarily an interchangeable term. The church, from the earliest times, denoted sodomy as literally any sexual act that didn’t lead to conceiving a child. So that charge originally didn’t have to occur within same-sex relationships. There are a LOT of articles relating to people convicted of sodomy in England and elsewhere. None mentioned, in fact, from Scotland within the Scottish papers from 1700, the earliest the search parameters would allow, right up until 1849, when it’s reported Donald Fraser was caught in Nairn. It’s not as though the papers were shy on this point, however. I feel like they considered themselves as some kind of moral compass for society. That by outing these things with as much detail as possible, not only would that serve to add publicity & shame to the people who had engaged in illicit acts but that it would prevent others from seeking to do the same. In Scotland I think it was a lack of opportunity that led to a lack of instances. There wasn’t the prevalence of private gentlemen’s clubs, like there was in the big English cities, where men could meet in clandestine ways on a regular basis. Like we covered in the 1st episode from RSH for Independence Live, marriage was taken super seriously in Scotland, and in the small towns/villages where everyone knew everyone else’s business, you either toed the line and did what was expected of you by settling down and having the 2.4 kids, or lived life as an unfulfilled bachelor. 

Prior to newspaper reports there were only a few related instances noted in Scottish history: 

1 Sept 1570  John Swan & John Lister, executed.  
2 April 1630  Michael Erskine, executed.  
8 Dec 1645  Gavin Bell prosecuted. 
9 Sept 1662  Charles II. Act of Indemnity and Pardon. 

Sir Archibald Alison, in his ‘Principles of the Criminal Law of Scotland,’ (1832) tells us about the first 2; 

   “The crime of sodomy or the unnatural connexion of one man with another is to be proved after the same manner and with the same scrupulous attention as rape. Proof of the completion of the offence by penetration is equally indispensable in both… If the party on whom the offence is committed is a boy under fourteen he is not guilty of felony but the actual agent only is exposed to its pains. The guilty associate is a competent witness against the pannel… Two old cases John Swan and John Litster 1st September 1570 and Michael Erskine April 2 1630 occurred for this crime in both of which the accused were executed to which we must add that of James Leckie Jedburgh autumn 1827 who was charged with no less than nine acts and on a confession of two and on restriction of the libel was transported for life.” 

James Leckie’s case does not appear in the papers of the time at all, under any search, which is strange. We do have notice of Gavin Bell’s case in the Scottish Parliamentary Register where the right to execute him was given to the authorities of Linlithgow; 

Charles I: 1645, 26 November, St Andrews, Parliament   

Commission to Sir Robert Drummond of Midhope. 

The estates of parliament, having taken into their consideration the motion and desire made in parliament for granting commission for trying and judging Gavin Bell, apprentice to John Thomson in Blackrig, who is committed and imprisoned as guilty of the vile and filthy crime of buggery, they have given and granted and hereby give and grant full power and commission to the provost and bailies of Linlithgow and Sir Robert Drummond of Midhope, knight, (or any three of them, the said Sir Robert Drummond being one of the three) to sit as justiciaries in that part within the tolbooth of Linlithgow for trying, processing and judging the said Gavin Bell anent the committing of the vile and filthy crime of buggery. With power to them to create and choose a clerk and other members of court necessary and to cause warn and summon an assize and inquest and witnesses and receive all other probation necessary and to do and exercise all other things requisite concerning the trying, processing and judging of the said Gavin Bell for the aforesaid filthy and vile crime of buggery as freely in all respects as the justice general and his deputes might do therein if the said delinquent were cited before them; as also with power to the said persons above-named as justices in that part aforesaid to put the sentence and doom to be given in the said matter to due execution, according to the tenor thereof, for the which the estates declare this act shall be a sufficient warrant. 

Charles I: Translation   

1645, 26 November, St Andrews, Parliament   

Parliamentary Register   

8 December 1645   

Procedure: commission for the trial of Gavin Bell. 

Charles the II.’s Act of Indemnity and Pardon did not extend to certain crimes including those who aided in the decapitation of his father, Charles I., and sodomy, &c.1 

Caledonian Mercury, Thursday 3rd August, 1721. 

   All Treasons, Misprisions of Treasons, Libels, Riots, and all other Offences committed before the 24th of July 1721, against His Majesty’s Crown and Dignity, by any Persons Spiritual or Temporal, are by the said Act acquitted, pardoned, released and discharged, except such as were in Arms in the late Rebellions, and that are gone beyond Seas, or that are attainted of High Treason; all voluntary Murders or Robberies, Rapes, Sodomy, Buggary, Pyracies on the high Seas, Counterfeiting the Stamps, Exchequer-notes, Seamen’s Tickets, Perjury, Subornetion of Perjury, all Arrears of the Land and Malt-taxes, Customs, Excise, or any other Branch of the Revenues; as also, all Offences by Popish Recusants, &c.” 

Caledonian Mercury, Thursday 28th August, 1721. 

   “And also excepted the detestable and abominable Vices of Sodomy and Buggery…” 

Members of men’s clubs were sometimes suspected of, and charged with, encouraging illicit activities as part of club proceedings as we can see from Edinburgh newspapers in the first quarter of the 18th century; 

Caledonian Mercury, Monday 4th January, 1725. 

   Mr. Jones, Head Constable of Holburn, last Night seized at the Two Blue Posts in Hare-street, near Covent Garden; 25 Persons belonging to a Club who have met frequently in Masquerade Habits, to perpetuate, as is supposed, the hainous Sin of Sodomy. Several of these taken, ‘tis assured, have stood in the Pillory for such Practices. 

Caledonian Mercury, Tuesday 10th May, 1726. 

   “London, May 3. We hear that near 20 Houses have been discovered, which entertain’d Sodomitical Clubs: besides the nocturnal Assemblies of so great Numbers of the like vile Persons, at what they call the Markets, which are the Royal-Exchange, Moorfields, Lincolns-Inn, Boghouses, the South Side of St. James’s Park, and the Piazza’s of Covent Garden, where they make their Bargains, and then withdraw into some dark Corners to indorse, as they call it, but in plain English to commit Sodomy. However the Government having undertaken the Prosecution of them, ‘tis not doubted, but strict Care will be taken to detect them, in order to avert from these Cities those just Judgements, which fell from Heaven upon Sodom and Gomorrah, whose Sons of Perdition, so much resembled by our English Sodomites in their Aversion to the Female Sex, rejected Lot’s Daughters, and lusted after the Angels, believing them to be Men.”

The very fact the crime was included right alongside High Treason and murder shows to what extent the crime was considered. The really terrible punishments, however, were handed out to those convicted outside the British Isles;   

Caledonian Mercury (report from Paris, 29th May), Tuesday 31st May, 1726. 

   “A Person convicted of Sodomy was on the 4th Inst. burnt alive, by virtue of the Sentence pass’d upon him by the Judge of Chastelet.” 

   Regardless of the prospected outcome of being caught, there were still those being apprehended in public places. St. James’s Park is made out to be a popular location by appearing more than once over the centuries in the newspaper reports; 

Caledonian Mercury, Tuesday 29th August, 1727. 

   “London, Aug, 21. yesterday Morning a Foot Soldier and a Chairman were found in the very Act of the detestable Sin of Sodomy, upon the Grass in St. James’s Park.” 

It’s weirdly mentioned on the Anniversary of the Fire of London by the clergy as to how this particular crime appeared to be on the increase in England’s capital city; 

Caledonian Mercury, Monday 9th September, 1728. 

   “Yesterday being the Anniversary Fast of the Fire of London, the Clergy took occasion in their Sermons to mention the increase of that horrid and detestable Sin of Sodomy.”  

In a letter from London to the Edinburgh Newspaper, a little more information on, what appears to have been a wee group or club, and their activities; 

Caledonian Mercury, Thursday 24th October, 1728. 

   “This Evening 4 persons were convicted at the Old Baily of the detestable Sin of Sodomy, upon the Evidence of one Jonathan Perry, who confessed he had committed that Crime with some of them several times; who had a Custom among ‘em of Christening by the Names of Nell Gwyn, Geneva, &c. after which Ceremony they are call’d Husband and Wife. The other Particulars are not fit to be mentioned.” 

In fact, if the papers were to be believed, London left a lot to be desired overall with regards crime. 

Caledonian Mercury, Monday 17th March, 1729. 

   “This Day is published a Book, entituled, Hell upon Earth: or the Town in an Uproar; occasioned by the late terrible Scenes of Forgery, Perjury, Street-robbery, Murder, Sodomy, and other shoking Impieties. Of the Increase of the Hempes Manufactory, and the Decrease of the Woollen Manufactory; shewing that Jails and Gibbets are become as useful as Guards and Garrisons, and Pillories as necessary as P—ns. Of People’s being almost under a Necessity of carrying Pistols in stead of Prayer-Books, to Church &c.” 

Caledonian Mercury, Tuesday 16th June, 1730. 

   “Twenty two Persons convicted of Sodomy, have been publickly execute in Holland; and ‘tis believed some Persons who were missing and suspected, are privately execute.” 

This news continues a week later; 

Caledonian Mercury, Monday 22nd June, 1730. 

   “Many of the Persons accused of Sodomy in Holland are come over hither in Passage Boats for their Safety: And we learn by private Letters and Passengers, that besides the 28 that were lately executed there, 15 more are to hang’d next Thursday, and a Dutch Parson to be burnt alive at Roterdam. ‘Tis added, that there were great Tumults in Holland, on Account that some of the greatest of them as to Fortune had not been publickly executed. The Estates of those who are fled, as well as those executed, besides what pays their Debts, we hear are all forfeited to the Publick.” 

I can’t think the refugees would have found themselves any safer in England at this time. It was truly a witch hunt scenario in Holland & elsewhere at this time.

The first allusion to the idea homosexuality might be a curable illness is given here. 

Caledonian Mercury, Thursday 25th June, 1730. 

   “… a young Man who had the foul Disease applying himself to a Surgeon for Cure, the Surgeon, from a Motive of Suspicion, refused to take him under his Care unless he would tell him the Occasion of his Malady, which he accordingly did, and likewise impeached a Gang of Sodomites, and the Houses they frequented; which, coming to the Ears of the Ministers of Amsterdam, they made strong Representations to the Magistrates for Publick Justice to be inflicted on the guilty, adding, that without it, their Preaching would be in a manner useless: Upon which Numbers of them were immediately taken up, who impeached one another.” 

I had a friend in high school who bravely came out to his super religious parents and their first port of call with him was to their family doctor. Again, the whole conversion therapy thing lies with religion, as it’s mainly the religious or those who’ve been brought up in super religious households that feel it to be a valid go-to, as they feel it to be an abnormal inclination. 

Thereafter, there are reports from London of men convicted of Sodomy impeaching other “Accomplices” showing this witch hunt had only really just got going. 

Caledonian Mercury, Tuesday 7th July, 1730. 

   “We hear that Emanuel Ruffel, committed last Monday for Sodomy, has since impeached several of his wretched Accomplices, some whereof have since been taken up, and diligent search is making after the rest. It is said this Gang consists of 30 or 40 of those vile Wretches.” 

Caledonian Mercury, Tuesday 28th July, 1730, p.3. 

   Yesterday one Mr. Hayes was committed to the New Jail in Southwark for Sodomy, and we hear he has impeached 7 of his Accomplices. 

Caledonian Mercury, Tuesday 11th August, 1730, p.1. 

Hague, Aug. 1st

   THE Court of Holland has caused four Lettres de Cachet, or Mandatory Citations to be affixed ad valvas curiæ, summoning Forty two Persons to appear, who are accused of Sodomy; Among them are L— L—-, who was to have been Pensionary at Haerlem; Monsieur M—n, the famous French Refugee at the Hague; two Lieutenants, several Burghers and Lackeys; and lastly, the famous Tragical Poet

Caledonian Mercury, Monday 24th August, 1730, p.3. 

    Yesterday Nine Persons more accused of Sodomy, all of the richest Families, among whom is a French Refugee, were summoned a second time: But they are all withdrawn. The Refugee was a Person of seeming great Piety, whose Daughter was lately married to a Minister of one of the French Churches in London, whither he is supposed to have fled. 

Caledonian Mercury, Tuesday 1st September, 1730, p.2. 

   Touching the great and notorious Sodomite, &c., mentioned in our last to be arrived here incognito, we have the following Account of him from the Hague of the 1st Instant. That the Week before the Date, a Dutch Minister at Viana, three Leagues from Utrecht, absconded by Night from that Place, being accused of Sodomy, not only by and wit some of those who have been lately executed, but by others whom he has endeavoured to seduce to that unnatural Crime, in which ‘tis said he was so hardned, that ‘tis said he has attempted to prove from Passages of Scripture, that it was not only not a Sin, but a Practice more acceptable to the Deity than the Love of Women. 

Caledonian Mercury, Tuesday 22nd September, 1730, pp.1-2. 

   The Arch hypocrite Mor—n and others, accused of the unnatural Crime of Sodomy, have been cited a second Time; and ‘tis thought, that on their not appearing for their Justification at the third Citation, that they will be condemned to be hanged in Effigie. 

Caledonian Mercury, Thursday 24th September, 1730, p.2. 

   London, Sept. 19. On Saturday Peter Viviana, a poor Foreigner, lately come to England, and unacquainted with our Language, convicted last Session at the Old Bailey, on the Oaths of John Brailsford and William Prior, stood in the Pillory at the Royal Exchange, for attempting to commit the Crime of Sodomy; when the Sheriffs Officers suffered him to be treated with great Barbarity. 

Caledonian Mercury, Monday 12th October, 1730, p.4. 

   Since the Return of the Clergyman to Viana, 12 Persons have been publickly execute at Leward in Friseland for the unnatural Sin of Sodomy; and last Friday the Provost of the Cathedral of Utrecht was execute for the same, but privately, at the Intercession of his Friends. As severals who have suffered have accused many others, Yesterday was held a Council on that Occasion; and as two Persons have absented themselves, strict Inquiry is ordered after the others accused. 

Caledonian Mercury, Tuesday 12th October, 1731, p.2. 

   Hague, Oct. 9. Since the 5th Inst. we have had a great Number of Sentences affixed up at all the Corners of the Streets and other usual Places, against the Sodomites who are fled abroad; and a List of their Names has been printed by Order of the Court of Justice of Holland. Those Sentences are to the Amount of 35; an Extract of one of which I have sent you for a Specimen; and the rather, because it is against one of the richest and most notorious of all that abominable Tribe. 

   THE Court of Holland having seen the Conclusion of the Attorney General of Holland, Zealand and Friesland, taken in the Name of the Sovereignty and County of the said Provinces, against John Francis de Morin, who lived here at the Hague, and was summoned, but conceals himself in contempt of the Court. 

   The said Court having maturely weighed and examined, in full Council, every thing relating to the said Affair, doing Justice in the Name of the Sovereignty and County of Holland, Zealand and Friesland, have, for such his Contempt, verified by the Attorney-General, precluded the said Morin from all Exception whatsoever, or other Delays of Justice, which he might have made use of if he had appeared; and also banishes him for ever, for the Crime of Sodomy by him committed, from the Countries of Holland, Zealand, Friesland and Utrecht, whither he is never to return upon Pain of greater Punishment; discharging the Attorney-General of his other Conclusion and Demands taken against the said Morin; condemning the said Morin to pay Costs of Suit, as they are taxed by this Court. Done at the Hague the 5th of October, 1731. 

John Thierry, Register. 

   N.B. All those who are included in this Condemnation are banished for ever; but some of them are forbid to return into the Jurisdiction upon Pain of Death; among whom is the famous Poet le Grange.  

Caledonian Mercury, Monday 4th December, 1732, p.1. 

   ‘Tis astonishing to hear, that in the Pamphlet entitled, A Philosophical Dissertation upon Death, Murder, Adultery, Sodomy, Treachery, &c. are justified, and affirmed to be no Crimes. Those taken up for it will no doubt be prosecuted with Vigour. 

We learn that measures other than execution was to be adopted; 

Caledonian Mercury, Tuesday 17th April, 1733. 

   “We are told, that several new Regulations are proposed to the Legislature, for more effectually punishing Criminals; among others, That Castration be inflicted as the just Reward of the detestable Sin of Sodomy.” 

Caledonian Mercury, Thursday 31st July, 1735. 

   This Afternoon one Hutchenson stood in the Pillory before the Royal Exchange, for extorting a Watch and Money at several times from one Mr. Pack, a Mercer’s Apprentice in Grace Church-street, by threatning to swear Sodomy against him, for which he was pelted for near an Hour with such Fury, that I hear he has lost one or both his Eyes, and sadly bruised. 

We’re brought back to earth with proposed harsher punishments to deprive the guilty of life in as distressing a way as possible in 1735; 

Caledonian Mercury, Monday 22nd December, 1735. 

   “… ‘tis thought it will be proposed to Parliament next Sessions to punish Murder, Robbery, Sodomy, and other Offences of the blackest Dye, with burning or breaking upon the Wheel, instead of hanging, a Death which hardened Villains perfectly laugh at.” 

A crazy example of “Sea Discipline” from Plymouth is laid out for us here; 

Caledonian Mercury, Thursday 25th November, 1742. 

   “A very extraordinary kind of Sea Discipline having been put in Practice in this Port, on board the Princess Amelia, I cannot avoid making it publick. Two Men on board the said Ship being caught together, and supposed to be guilty of that notorious and detestable Sin Sodomy, the Captain, in order to reclaim and bring them to Shame, (the real Fact not being fully proved) ordered Declaration to be made among the Women on board, that they should have the Correction of those Fellows; whereupon near twenty of the Amazonian Kind jumpt on Deck, with Cat-o’Nine-Tails in Hand, the Men being seiz’d and stript, did lay on the Stripes so close, and with such heavy Resentment at the Crime, that, if they had not soon been taken off, they would have died under their Discipline.” 

Truly a scene straight out of the Handmaid’s Tale… 

Another article details accusations of sodomy being used as a threat for blackmailing purposes, in another case from England, and the harsh penalties enforced upon the guilty. 

Aberdeen Press and Journal, Tuesday 10th December, 1751. 

   “Thursday John Cather, Patrick Kane, and Daniel Alexander the Attorney, were brought into the Court of King’s Bench, and received Judgment for being concern’d in a most wicked Conspiracy against the Hon. Edward Walpole, Esq; in endeavouring to extort a large Sum of Money, under Threats of swearing Sodomy; when Cather was ordered to stand three times on the Pillory, viz. once at Charing-Cross, once at the End of Chancery-Lane, and the third Time at the Royal Exchange; after which he is to be sent to Clerkenwell Bridewell for four Years, there to be kept to hard Labour; then to give Security himself, in 40 l. each, for his good Behaviour for three Years more. Kane was sentenced to stand on the Pillory once at Charing-Cross, and afterwards to be sent to Clerkenwell Bridewell to hard Labour for two Years, and to give Security afterwards for his good Behaviour for five Years, himself in 40 l. and two Securities in 20 l. each. And Alexander was sentenced to stand once on the Pillory at Charing-Cross, to pay a Fine of 50 l. to suffer two Years Imprisonment in the King’s Bench Prison, and to give Security for his good Behaviour for three Years more, himself in 200 l. and two Sureties in 100 l. each.” 

We have an example of how even the insinuation of being that way inclined could lead men to suicide. 

Caledonian Mercury, Thursday 7th August, 1755. 

This is from a Nobleman’s Steward; 

   “… who had for some Time been observed to be greatly troubled in his Mind, after having given some Directions to the Workmen, went up into his Chamber, and shot himself through the Head.” 

His letter suggests the cause to be rumours of his being sexually deviant; 

   “… I am innocent of that beastly and detested Sin of Sodomy, and that I loath and abhor it as much as any Man. I don’t write this to vindicate myself to a World I shall soon leave, and soon be forgotten; but that your Lordship would have that Charity not to think the worse of those Persons who have laid the Imputation on me, and have taken the Advantage of my Imbecillity of Spirit. I could bear Poverty but not Shame.” 

In Surrey towards the end of the 18th century two men were pilloried for having been found guilty of engaging in acts of sodomy. The death of Mr Smith due to having been knocked unconscious and left dangling from his neck, thereby being strangled to death, led to the beginning of conversations surrounding the banning of this form of punishment. 

Scots Magazine, Vol. 42, Saturday 2nd December, 1780. 

   “On the 10th of April [1780], [Theodosius] Reed a plaisterer, and [William] Smith a coachman, sentenced for sodomitical practices, were carried from the New Gaol privately, in a hackney-coach (to save them from the mob), and set in the pillory at St Margaret’s-hill. The under-sheriffs, with their officers, and a great number of constables, attended. The unhappy wretches were, nevertheless, so severely pelted by the populace, that in half an hour Smith sunk down; in which position he remained, till he appeared black in the face, the blood gushing from his ears; when he was taken out, and laid on the pillory. When carried back to the gaol, a surgeon was sent for; but Smith was found to be dead; and Reed’s recovery was doubtful. On an inquisition taken, April 12, it appeared to the coroner and his jury, that Reed turning round faster than usual, and Smith being just then seized with a giddiness and fainting from the extreme severity of the populace, lost the strength of his legs, and hung by his head. the jury’s verdict was, “Strangled in the pillory.” – The Solicitor-General moved the court of king’s-bench, April 20. for an attachment against the under-sheriff, for his not preventing this mischief. But Lord Mansfield, upon hearing the affidavits, said, they did not appear to prove any inattention in the under-sheriff; so the affair was deferred till further inquiry should be made. – Can a country be said to be civilized where such barbarity is committed at mid-day in the capital!” 

On to the Dundee papers and in the next quote, from the article entitled “Blasphemous Publications,” this crime is listed as one of the horrible depravities with which the Bible is apparently full; 

Northern Warder and General Advertiser for the Counties of Fife, Perth and Forfar, Tuesday 20th December, 1842. 

   “That revolting, odious Jew production, called the Bible, has been for ages the idol of all sorts of block-heads, the glory of knaves, and the disgust of wise men. It is a history of lust, sodomies, wholesale slaughterings, and horrible depravities, that the vilest part of all other histories collected into one monstrous book could scarcely parallel. Priests tell us that these abominations were written by a God: all the world believe it the outpourings of some devil. – See Oracle of Reason.” 

In Nairn there’s the first short account of a man sentenced for the crime of sodomy, in Scotland, with a rather harsh outcome. 

Banffshire Journal, Tuesday 24th April, 1849. 

  Donald Fraser, from Glengarry, charged with sodomy, or attempt to commit sodomy, and with other libidinous and indecent practices, pled guilty to the attempt to commit the more serious offence, and was sentenced to ten years’ transportation. 

We have outlined for us the crimes that will earn you the death penalty in Scotland. I include the list as the crimes to which homosexual behaviour between men was considered akin to, in terms of morality. 

Glasgow Sentinel, Saturday 4th August, 1855. 

   “CAPITAL PUNISHMENT IN SCOTLAND. – In a Parliamentary paper, published on Monday, at the instance of Mr Ewart, appears the following list of crimes, which subject the perpetrators to capital punishment:-   

  1. High treason;  
  1. Murder;  
  1. Contravention of Stat. 10 Geo. 4, c. 38, “For the more effectual punishment of attempts to murder;”  
  1. Hamesucken;  
  1. Rape and incest;  
  1. Notour adultery;  
  1. Sodomy;  
  1. Bestiality;  
  1. Forgeries, which were capital previous to Stat. 1 and 3 Will. 4, c. 123;  
  1. Robbery;  
  1. Piracy;  
  1. Stouthrief;  
  1. Furtum grave;  
  1. Horse stealing;  
  1. Cattle stealing;  
  1. Sheep stealing, when more than one sheep is stolen;  
  1. Theft by a person who is habit and repute a common thief;  
  1. Theft by a person who has been repeatedly convicted of theft;  
  1. Theft by housebreaking;  
  1. Theft by opening lockfast places;  
  1. Plagium;  
  1. Wilful fire raising;  
  1. Contravention of Stat. 29 Geo. 3, c. 46, “For preventing the wilfully burning and destroying ships, and the wilfully and maliciously destroying any woolen, silk, linen, or cotton goods, or any implements prepared for or used in the manufacture thereof;”  
  1. The high crime and offence under the Stat. 7 Will. 4, and 1 Vict., c. 36;  
  1. Contravention of Stat. 1661, c. 20, against cursing and beating of parents.  

   Although the above offences are capital by law, the public prosecutor has the power of restricting the libel, after which capital sentence is not competent, and this course is followed, excepting in cases of murder and high treason.”  

Edinburgh News and Literary Chronicle, Saturday 4th June, 1859. 

   It is difficult to decide whether effeminate men or masculine women are the most disagreeable. 

Then we have the case against Mr. Glen and his friend Mr. Broadley. This case led to new regulations in Glasgow surrounding private rooms and booths in licensed premises. 

Dunfermline Saturday Press, Saturday 29th September, 1866. 

   “That animals worse than brutes are to be found in human form, is amply shewn by the fact, that two men named William Glen and Maurice Broadley were, at this court, convicted of sodomy, and sentenced each to ten years’ penal servitude; while David Allison, Greenock, was found guilty of incest, and sentenced to fifteen years’ penal servitude – capital punishment having been departed from by the Advocate-Depute.”  

We get more information from elsewhere. 

William Glen from Glasgow, slater, Robertson Lane, Glasgow. Age, 21. & Maurice Broadley from Londonderry, Ireland, picture dealer, 75 High Street, Glasgow. Age, 19. – Scottish Indexes  

   “In 1866, two young men, William Glen, a Glasgow slater aged twenty-one, and Maurice Broadley, a Londonderrry picture dealer aged nineteen, were convicted of sodomy ‘in or near a drinking box’ in a public house in Bridgegate, Glasgow and sentenced to ten year’ penal servitude. – History of Drinking: The Scottish Pub since 1700, Anthony Cooke (2015). 

We have notice of another two men set for conviction in Scotland; 

Fife Herald, Thursday 16th June, 1870. 

   “CHARGES OF SODOMY AGAINST TWO ARBROATH MEN. – Two men, residing in Arbroath, the one a master flesher and the other a mechanic, have been apprehended, by warrant of the Sheriff, charged with having committed sodomy. Two criminal officers left Dundee on Saturday morning, and apprehended the men, who were brought here by one of the forenoon trains. There was quite a crowd of people at the Arbroath Station witnessing their departure. – Dundee Paper.” 

Dundee Courier, Friday 5th August, 1870. 

   “LIST OF PRISONERS SET DOWN FOR TRIAL AT THE ENSUING CIRCUIT COURT. – The following is a list of prisoners set down for trial at the ensuing Circuit Court of Justiciary in Dundee, which opens on Thursday, 1st September:-  


   6, John Kidd, Peter Rattray, from Arbroath – Sodomy, or attempt to commit sodomy.” 

Fortunately, there was the chance of a happy outcome from being sentenced with this charge; 

Dundee Courier, Saturday 3rd September, 1870. 


   John Kidd and Peter Rattray, residing in Arbroath, were charged with committing sodomy, or attempting to commit sodomy in the shop in High Street, Arbroath, on Sunday, the 29th May, occupied by the prisoner Kidd. 

   Both prisoners pleaded not guilty, and were defended by Messrs Charles Scott and Watson as counsel, and Messrs William Smith, Arbroath, and Kyd, Dundee, as agents. 

   After a new jury had been empanelled, 

   The LORD JUSTICE CLERK said – I have to mention on behalf of the Court, before proceeding with this trial, that this is a case that must be tried with closed doors, and none can be allowed to remain except those officially connected with the Court. Before proceeding the Court must, therefore, be cleared. 

   The Court was cleared accordingly, and the trial proceeded with in private. 

   The case lasted until half-past five o’clock afternoon. The jury unanimously returned a verdict finding the prisoners not guilty, and they were accordingly liberated.” 

There’s also an interesting article in which a Dundee newspaper writes to Canadian one in order to obtain information. 

Dundee Evening Telegraph, Wednesday 23rd April, 1879. 





   Certain rumours having reached us respecting the person whose recent platform exhibition in the Kinnaird Hall caused so much excitement in Dundee, we felt it necessary yesterday, in the discharge of our public duty, to forward by Atlantic Cable the following telegraphic message to the editor of the Toronto Globe, the leading newspaper published in Canada:- 





   To this message we have received the following reply:- 






   The above needs no comment. We may mention, however, that we are prosecuting other inquiries with respect to his alleged reception by the Bishop of Lyons as a Monk of the Order of St Francis, and have already obtained information showing that his veracity corresponds with his antecedents. We shall give the results on an early day. – Dundee Advertiser

This is followed by the same Francis Widdows defending his character in what seemed to be a rather large event due to the amount of curious people in attendance to hear him explain himself. It shows not only how easy it was to slander a person by claiming this crime had been enacted but also the lengths to which the accused had to go to clear his name. Mr. Widdow’s certainly doesn’t balk from the chance. 

Dundee Courier, Thursday 24th April, 1879. 




   Mr Widdows arrived in Dundee yesterday forenoon from Norwich, and in the evening addressed a crowded meeting in the Victoria Hall. To prevent a repetition of the disturbances which took place last week, and to secure to Mr Widdows the freedom of speech which was then denied him, a force of over 100 police constables was in attendance both inside and outside the hall, while in a hall in the locality upwards of 200 special constables were kept in reserve in case any emergency should arise demanding their assistance. About half-past six o’clock crowds of persons began to assemble in Victoria Road in front of the hall, and by eight o’clock the street was so densely crowded – about 5000 or 8000 persons being present – that it was with the utmost difficulty admission to the hall could be obtained… 

   Mr WIDDOWS, then came forward, and was received with enthusiastic applause… I came to-night not to satisfy my friends, or those who have been working in this cause, but just simply to let the opposite party see what they tried long ago in Canada – namely, to put me down, that I will not be put down by mobs nor in any other way. (Cheers.)… I do not care whether you applaud or hiss; I shall just simply state to you the facts. And I say this to the Advertiser, that if I had known the Advertiser wanted to know all about the Archbishop Lynch case I have the reports from the Toronto Globe, and they need not have gone to the expense of telegraphing across the Atlantic. (Great applause.) I do not say that to the Advertiser as an insult. The press is to be commended in exposing everything that they think in justice needed to be exposed. I am not condemning the Editor of the Advertiser: I am only saying that is I had known that he wanted these kind of things, I have them all with me, and he could have seen the pros and the cons. (Great applause.)… 



   DEAR SIR, – I have been looking daily at your valuable paper and wondering if my old friends the Bishop and Monsignor Bruyere, V.G., intended to allow me to leave London unnoticed. I perceive they have not. I see by to-day’s issue of the Free Press a card from the Right Rev. Mon. Bruyere. I wish to state as follows:- I was a Franciscan Monk, and I defy Mon., the Bishop, or any Romanist to disprove it. I was also in prison, sent there on the perjured oath of one witness, and he has since confessed that he swore to a lie, because he was compelled to do so by Archbishop Lynch… Since Mon. wishes the people of London to know all about it, I shall deliver a lecture on my case and Archbishop Lynch, “or what Popery has done to me,” next week, and I shall invite his Reverence and Lordship to disprove what I shall say, if he can. As to the case itself, I left Bishop Lynch’s Palace on the 25th of May, 1875, and it took him from that date till the 9th of June to make up the charge against me. I was arrested on the 11th, remanded until the 15th, and then I had to wait six weeks (in jail) before the witness, James Rogers, could be found. Bad as he was he did not wish to swear a lie against me. But when the Bishop told him it was on a Protestant Bible, and if he did not intend to take an oath, it would not be an oath – he came…” 

This time Manchester, we have a fancy-dress ball having gone wrong; 

Aberdeen Free Press, Friday 1st October, 1880. 

   “The Manchester City Police Court was crowded to excess yesterday morning by persons anxious to see the forty-seven men arrested at the fancy dress ball held in Hulme on Saturday morning. All the prisoners surrendered to their bail, and there was a full bench of magistrates. The prosecuting solicitor, in detailing the case so far as it could be described in public, said it was his misfortune to have to describe one of the foulest orgies that ever disgraced a country. Some of the proceedings at the ball seen by Detective Caminada and the police were too gross for description in open Court. It was shown that the ball was engaged under a false pretence, and that every window except one was covered with paper or calico, so that nobody from the outside could see what was going on. But one window was opened for ventilating purposes, and through it Detective Caminada and two police officers saw what was going on. The prisoners were charged with soliciting and in citing each other to commit sodomy, and with conspiring to assemble for the purpose of committing this offence. Evidence of the most disgusting nature was given in support of the charge, and the Counsel for the defence substantially admitted that the statements of Caminada as to what he saw were true, but they contended that the serious charge had not been proved, and suggested that the magistrates should deal with the prisoners as having committed a nuisance simply. Several of the prisoners denied that they knew the nature of the gathering before they went. The prosecuting solicitor reminded the magistrates that they had power, if they wished, at once to get rid of a public scandal, and to bind over the prisoners in heavy sureties to be of good behaviour. This course was ultimately taken, and the prisoners were all bound over in two sureties of £25 each, and themselves in £50, to be of good behaviour for twelve months, with three months’ imprisonment in default. As, however, they have to give 24 hours’ notice of their sureties, they will be imprisoned at all events for two days.”  

There’s a small note of this crime in Renfrew; 

Glasgow Herald, Thursday 20th January, 1881. 

   “COMMITTALS FOR TRIAL IN RENFREWSHIRE. – In the county of Renfrew during 1880, as shown by a return just made up in compliance with a statute, 38 persons more than in 1879 have emitted declarations or been committed for trial. The number, including those brought over from the preceding year, was 235, comprising 62 females and 173 males. Of 222 disposed of, 158 were convicted, 27 acquitted, and 33 discharged without trial. Sentence of penal servitude was passed in 5 cases, the longest term, which was for assault, being 10 years, and the shortest, which was for theft, being five years. This is a decrease in those sentenced to penal servitude as compared with 1879, when 13 were sentenced to penal servitude. The longest term in 1879 was 15 years, and the shortest five years – the former being in a case of murder, and one of sodomy.” 

Glasgow Herald, Friday 22nd February, 1884. 



Albany, West Australia, 

Dec. 12, 1883. 

   … I must add that in some of its aspects the Australian community impressed me as retrogressive. Some of their laws are uncivilised. Rape and “sodomy” are punished with death. In a list of executions, no fewer than 17 have been for rape (by whites) and two for sodomy. A charge of rape is too easily trumped up to render that a just punishment; and though the Australians defend it by saying that their families must often be left unprotected, it is obvious that the severity of the punishment tempts the brutal to silence the victim of their lust by murder. As for the other offence, in punishing which with death Australia differs from all other countries, one can only attribute it to some exceptional cause. The confusion of mind represented in punishing a vice more heavily than many crimes, injurious to others or to the community; the absurdity of punishing a man’s injury to himself more severely than his breaking his wife’s bones, this is an anomaly that must have some occult connection with convict discipline. There does not appear to be any agitation even for the abolition of these legal monstrosities. This may be a result of so many of the cultivated citizens not identifying themselves with the country, but keeping up a moral interest only in the country to which they mean to return.”  

Then there’s a case from Dublin in 1884; 

Aberdeen Free Press, Thursday 17th July, 1884. 

   “COUNTY INSPECTOR FRENCH, of the Royal Irish Constabulary, was brought up at the Dublin Police Court yesterday, when, formal evidence of the charge of sodomy against him having been given, he was remanded, bail being refused. A Dublin merchant, a Quaker, was arrested yesterday in connection with the case. Several warrants have been issued.” 

From Greenock we find an open letter entitled “Home Rule” where the writer, a proponent of Home Rule for both Scotland and Ireland, without being a seeker of independence, says; 

Greenock Telegraph and Clyde Shipping Gazette, Monday 9th February, 1885. 

   “Home Rule is simply the making of Irish laws in Ireland by Irish men. The connection would continue, imperial affairs be managed by the representatives of the three kingdoms, Ireland contribute her fair share towards the upkeep of the army, navy, &c., and the work of Parliament would thus be minus Irish legislation… The real remedy lies in allowing an Irish Parliament to legislate for Ireland, a Scotch Parliament to make Scotch laws, an English Chamber to rule England, and have an Assembly to settle Imperial affairs. The governing of Ireland from London has now gone on for eighty-four years, and during that period we find that there has ever been discontent, that coercion and bayonets have been constantly in requisition, that even to-day an army of occupation consisting of some forty thousand armed men is necessary to maintain your grip of ‘the tight little island.’ Cockney rule is, therefore, a failure. It has created and fostered discontent, ruined native industries, caused periodical famines, has the country steeped in poverty, her children from necessity flying her shores, her population – and her people are very prolific – rapidly decreasing, and the mode in which she is governed a by-word amongst the nations.” 

He continues and brings the crime of which we’re interested into his argument; 

   “May not a day yet come when we shall regret that bigotry and prejudice so blinded the British people as to allow them to tolerate the tyranny which has given millions of wealth producers to America, and statesmen, scholars, and soldiers to nearly every civilised country? Should we read that in Russia a portion of the empire was governed from a place in which sodomy was prevalent, that the perpetrators of this horrible crime held high positions, and that the important office of Crown prosecutor was entrusted to a man of the stamp of George Bolton, we would unhesitatingly denounce such rule. Yet we tolerate it at our own doors. Dublin Castle government is indefensible – is a disgrace to the enlightened England of to-day. Abolish it, and gain the friendship and goodwill of the Irish nation by substituting Home Rule which would mean a union based on equality and not on the infamous practices of Castlereagh. – Yours sincerely, 


The accusation of sodomy was even thrown about in the House of Commons. 

Aberdeen Free Press, Monday 11th February, 1889. 


   In a letter to a Plymouth Liberal, Lord Ebrington says:- I am not aware of anything in the Constitution which makes M.P.’s a privileged class, or which authorises their being treated differently from other able-bodied people who wilfully break the law. I am afraid I do not share your high opinion of Mr O’Brien’s character. I do not think much of a patriot who cannot take the rough of his profession with the smooth, and who solaces himself with illicit sandwiches while affecting to refuse medical comforts on principle; and it seems to me rather hard on genuine Irish patriots, to bracket with them an unscrupulous agitator, who first accused Lord Spencer in United Ireland of being accessory, after the fact, to sodomy; then denied it in the House of Commons; and finally, had to admit on oath that his charges were scandalously false only.” 

We’re also told those guilty of these crimes should be considered as having “brutalised himself” allowing the judge presiding over such cases to deal with them how he sees fit. 

Glasgow Herald, Thursday 9th May, 1889. 


   Mr MILVAIN, in moving the second reading of this bill, explained that by way of consolidating the law as to flogging this measure repealed wholly and entirely three Acts of Parliament and repealed portion of six others. It amended the law in the first instance by abolishing the punishment of flogging upon incorrigible rogues. It provided that all offenders under the age of 16 years might be punished by whipping, but the whipping was to be administered with a birch rod only. As to adults, the bill would extend corporal punishment to the case of burglars when they were armed with a dangerous or offensive weapon, to persons convicted of rape and of offences under the Criminal Law Amendment Act, and to persons convicted of bestiality and sodomy. In each case discretionary power would be exercised by the judge as to the infliction of the lash. It might be said that this form of punishment was brutalising, but in his opinion they could not brutalise the person who had already brutalised himself by the commission of the offences embraced in the bill.” 

About this time, in the latter half of the 19th century, there was agitation for women’s rights and suffrage. Those groups promoting equality for women were slagged off in the press and within the Houses of Parliament as consisting of “feminine men and masculine women.” 

In the country of Ireland we have a more explicitly homosexual affair – rather than the cases we’ve seen already where only one male was prosecuted in what could have been a crime against the opposite sex – there’s no such dubiousness here; 

Aberdeen Evening Express, Thursday 21st May, 1891. 


   A Parliamentary return was issued yesterday, giving the following copy of the warrant for the arrest of Mr De Cobain, M.P.:- ‘The Queen, at the prosecution of Edward T. Seddall, district inspector of Royal Irish Constabulary, complainant. Edward Samuel Wesley de Cobain, defendant. Petty Session District of Belfast, city of Belfast, counties of Antrim and Down. Whereas a complaint has been made, on oath and in writing, that the defendant, within the last two years, at Belfast, did commit an act of gross indecency with another male person, to wit, one William Allen, and at the same time and place did indecently assault the said William Allen, and that the defendant, within the same time and at the same place aforesaid, did incite the said William Allen and others to commit sodomy, this is to command you (to whom this warrant is addressed) to arrest the said Edward Samuel Wesley de Cobain, of Belfast, and to bring him before me or some other justice of the city to answer to the said complaint. – (Signed) R. EATON, Justice of the said city, this 2nd day of April, 1891. To the District Inspector of Constabulary at Belfast.” 

Interestingly the term “gross indecency” is mostly found in relation to drunkenness rather than sexual impropriety, as far as the Scottish papers are concerned anyway. 

A publication “Moths” by Ouida [Maria Louise Ramé] is reviewed in the John o’ Groat Journal, 16th July, 1897, which makes clear that, as per usual, it’s one rule for the rich and another for everyone else; 

   “THOSE who make acquaintance with “Ouida” for the first time through “Moths” will be startled at the way in which she points out and touches the foul spots in the lives of many of the aristocracy. To anyone who knows anything of the state of society, the revelation will not appear too exaggerated. Against a social state in which incest is common; where infidelity and adultery are openly and fearlessly indulged in, and looked upon as a matter of course; where holy wedlock is merely a convenient device for getting rid of a social difficulty; where the prostitute drives in the Park with the Duchess, and where sodomy abounds; against such a society no sarcasm too pointed, no satire too poisonous, can be hurled. Nought but good can come of such an exposure, and it is a gross mistake that these things should be concealed. It is the hidden sin we cannot cope with. When the cobra raises its head we can strike it off. The only crime that society recognises is the sin of being found out. Do as you like so long as you keep out of the hands of the police, and so long as you avoid an open scandal.” 

The first instance I could find of the term “homo-sexual” & phrase “abnormal inclinations” having been used was in 1907 in a case from Berlin that was reported by ALL the papers. Maximilien Harden, an independent journalist, was taken to court for libel after insinuating cronyism & occult practices against Prince Eulenburg, as well as suggesting Count Kuno Moltke & the Prince were engaged in acts with each other. These 2 attempted to hold Max Harden to account with a charge of libel. Max was, however, judged to be “Freigesprochen” (acquitted), first time around. After an appeal he was convicted of the charge. 

I’ll give an article from earlier in the year that lays out the reasons for this case having come to the courts. 

Dundee Courier, Thursday 6th June, 1907. 

“Berlin.   Wednesday.     

   In his article in Die Zukunft on the Court scandal Herr Maximilian Harden declared that the members of Prince Eulenburg’s “round table” used undue influence on the Emperor in order to obtain positions for their friends. He also hinted that Spiritualism, table-turning, and certain other practices were carried on at Prince Eulenburg’s residence, Schloss Liebenberg. 

   The present affair first became known by the report that Count Kuno Moltke, commander of the Berlin Garrison, had challenged Maximilian Harden to a duel. Herr Harden refused to accept the challenge, and Count Kuno Moltke thereupon took proceedings for libel. The sensation was heightened by the news of Count Moltke’s resignation, it is generally supposed, at the Emperor’s request. 


   The Lokalanzeiger states that Count Kuno Moltke requested the public prosecutor to sue Herr Harden for libel, which that official refused to do, on the ground that the discussion of Herr Harden’s articles was not in the public interest, especially as they were directed against a number of other personages.  

Count Moltke has appealed against this decision. 

   The Berliner Tageblatt learns from a trustworthy source that Prince Eulenburg also is taking action against Herr Harden “to prove to the world that the accusations that he is suffering from abnormal inclinations are absolutely unjustified.” 


   It is assumed that changes are pending in high commands, as certain personages are charged with not exercising sufficient supervision over their officers in certain regiments. 

   Owing to the high position occupied by the principals in the affair the situation is being watched with keen interest. – P.A. Foreign Special.” 

Then we have the trial itself; 

Dundee Courier, Wednesday 30th October, 1907. 

“Berlin, Tuesday.     

   Judgment was delivered this morning in Count Kuno von Moltke’s libel action against Herr Harden, editor of the Zukunft. The defendant was acquitted. The plaintiff was ordered to bear the costs of the trial. 


   The Judge read his expose of the verdict amid dead silence. It was only when he said that the Court regarded the allegations of the defence as proved that a murmur ran through the Court. At the end of his address he read the verdict. There was a gasp of astonishment as he reached the word “Freigesprochen” (acquitted). 

   Proceeding, the President said that, taking into consideration the evidence given by the expert witness, the Court had come to the conclusion that the plaintiff was actually homo-sexual. He had an aversion for women, was inclined to the society of men, and gave every sign of homo-sexuality. In this light the Court also regarded the handkerchief incident. The President laid emphasis upon the fact that it was in no way proved that the plaintiff realised his abnormal inclinations. 


   Herr Harden did not waste much time in shaking hands with his friends who hastened to congratulate him. He left Court with all speed, while Count Moltke, as on Saturday, stood alone, watching the busy scene. 

   There seems a possibility of the Public Prosecutor still taking action against Herr Harden, having changed his opinion as the result of the figure Count Moltke has made in these proceedings. Count Moltke has a week in which to appeal. – P.A. Foreign Special.” 

This story suggests the idea that homosexuality might not be a choice, in that how can Herr Harden have been homosexual and yet unaware if it was a choice? But that wasn’t to be the end of this case. As reported at the start of the next year Max Harden was ultimately convicted; 

Aberdeen Press and Journal, Saturday 4th January, 1908. 

   “The summing up was directed against the accused throughout, and in some parts was extremely severe. The court said there was no doubt that Herr Harden meant to imply that Count von Moltke possessed unnatural inclinations, while the reference to the intercourse between the Count and Prince Eulenberg certainly left the impression that illicit relations existed between them. The proceedings had shown that all the charges were not only unproved, but untrue. Herr Harden had never attempted to obtain proofs, which, if they existed, must have been easily procurable against men occupying such prominent positions as Count von Moltke and Prince Eulenburg. No political writer should dare, for a political object, to attempt to injure the honour and reputation of others.” 

When HIV became more prevalent, the homosexual community was told in no uncertain terms that it was their fault, that they’d brought this scourge upon themselves for the sin of loving who they chose. This was not by any means a new accusation and was just the perpetuation of an old myth. In the past people also saw sin as somehow contagious, that if one person sinned, the whole town or region might be affected by God’s retribution. This is the idea to which the writer alludes in their last sentence. 

Motherwell Times, Friday 27th July, 1917. 

“Certainty of Punishment. 

   There is not a vice, says the famous Fournier of Paris, more fatal to the conservation of the race than promiscuous and unlawful sex-indulgence. It was to punish the sins of the flesh that the deluge was sent to destroy nearly the whole human race. The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah by fire for the same reason is even commemorated in the very name of Sodomy to this day. Onan, says the book of Genesis, performed the marriage act in such a way as to frustrate it of its only lawful purpose, the procreation of children, and the Lord slew him. His sin is alive to-day, and is commemorated in the word Onanism. On these occasions God punished the guilty miraculously, but that is not His usual way. Our bodies are so contrived that the violation of the moral and civil laws bring a part of their punishment in their train, not the less certain because slower. Ah, yes! Slower than a miracle would be. The venereal diseases syphilis, gonorrhœa, and soft chancre come to act as earthly ministers to His justice, anticipating the punishments of a future world. Any one suffering from the venereal diseases will tell you that the punishment here is quite enough in their experience. One thing I desire to urgently impress on your minds is that perfectly innocent people, young and old, contract venereal disease, and it is the recognition of this important fact which has stirred up modern society to work together to save the innocent from the guilty and the guilty from the innocent.” 

The anti-homosexual stance was something that was borne of religion. It was the church that outlawed everything but sex, as quick and unenjoyable as possible, that occurred between one man and one woman for the purposes of having children. Religion has a lot to answer for in this regard as this view became insidious within society to the point where, even though it has less hold of society now than ever before, there are still those who feel they have to hide who they are and feel they’re unable to love who they choose, openly. There are still those who feel that they couldn’t bear the shame of outing who they are. Which is just terribly sad to consider. 

In 1924 prison sentences were still being handed out; 

Scotsman, Tuesday 21st October, 1924 

   “A HEINOUS CRIME. – Before a Sheriff and jury at Stirling Sheriff Court yesterday, two young Stirling men, James Robertson Boswell, clerk, 24 Baker Street, and Peter Conway O’Brien, footman, Bannockburn Road, St Ninians, were tried on a charge of attempted sodomy, alleged to have been committed in the King’s Park, Stirling, on 2nd August 1924. The jury consisted of ten women and five men. After hearing evidence in camera, the jury returned a verdict of guilty. An agent for accused asked the Sheriff, in passing sentence, to take into account that there had been nothing against the character of the men before, and also the fact that they had been in prison since 2nd August. The Sheriff remarked that the crime was one which both in the eye of the public and in the eye of the law was very heinous. He passed sentence of six months’ imprisonment, to date from the time of apprehension.” 

From within the Aberdeen press we have a police report for the Moray region detailed for 1926. 

Aberdeen Press and Journal, Wednesday 9th February, 1927. 


   The annual police report and constabulary statistics for Morayshire (prepared by the late Chief Constable J. B. Mair, O.B.E., M.V.O.) has just been issued to the members of the County Standing Joint Committee, and, as in former years, it contains an interesting review of the work of the police force during the twelve months ended December 31 last…  

   The number of juvenile offenders dealt with during the year totalled 95, as follows:-  One for sodomy, four for theft by house-breaking, 21 for theft, one for wilful fire-raising, 25 for malicious mischief, eight for breach of peace, 34 for contraventions of the Police Act, and one for contravention of Roads and Bridges Act. The charges against the juvenile offenders standing over at end of 1925 were withdrawn.” 

One gentleman who enjoyed the company of other gents succeeded in having his sentence reduced in Scotland; 

Dundee Courier, Saturday 7th May, 1938. 


   The Scottish Court of Criminal Appeal gave judgment yesterday in an appeal by Peter Allan Ogg, an Edinburgh businessman, against a conviction obtained in the High Court on charges of gross indecency with male persons. 

   The jury found accused guilty by a majority of two charges, which included one of sodomy, unanimously guilty of two of the charges, with three charges not proven. 

   Ogg, who was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment, appealed against the conviction on several grounds. 

   The Appeal Judges (the Lord Justice Clerk, Lord Mackay, and Lord Wark) set aside the conviction on the sodomy charge and on two of the other charges, holding that there was an insufficiency of corroboration. 

   As one only of the convictions remained, the Court reduced the sentence to one of nine months’ imprisonment.” 

We have a case cited as having taken place in Orkney; 

Orkney Herald, and Weekly Advertiser and Gazette for the Orkney and Zetland Islands, Wednesday 15th February, 1939. 

   “Sheriff Court. – Before Sheriff-Substitute Brown at Orkney Sheriff Court on Saturday, Raymond Walter Lennie, Stromness, pled guilty to charges of sodomy and contravention of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, and was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment.” 

The round-up of crimes for Orkney a year later, for the year 1939, is given as; 

Orkney Herald, and Weekly Advertiser and Gazette for the Orkney & Zetland Islands, Wednesday 21st February, 1940. 

“Serious Crimes and Offences. 

   There were seven serious crimes and offences investigated by the Police during 1939. One of sodomy, where the accused was sentenced to ten months’ imprisonment. One case of sodomy and contravention of the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1885, in which the accused was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment…” 

The first report to be officially made into homosexuals and their way of life, with a view to better acceptance of the homosexual community within common society and a plea to revise laws, was the Wolfenden Report. The earliest newspaper article in relation to this report is the Christian response to its findings; 

Motherwell Times, Friday 20th September, 1957. 

“Wolf-calls and Wolfenden 

Rev. Ian A. Muirhead, B.D., Brandon Church 

   The Wolfenden Report has had a great deal of publicity. How do some of the general issues raised in it look in Christian eyes? 


   The Report plunges into a sort of world, an aspect of society, which is for the most part quietly ignored. But it was into this sort of world, that the Christian faith first came. 

   The world of the First Century A.D. was one of exceedingly loose sexual relations. There is any amount of evidence that, in pagan as well as Christian writers. It was taken for granted as a normal, inevitable activity of human society. No one really questioned that man’s passions should be free to do as they pleased. 


   The Christian Community rejected this way of life. It declared for its own members an absolute standard of moral purity, and declared too that the immoral were eternally excluded from God’s kingdom. It refused to admit that it was normal, natural or right for society to be immoral, and pronounced the immoral society to be doomed to confusion and destruction. 

   It would take too long to discuss the Church’s reasons for this teaching. Briefly they amounted to this. Sex was far too fundamental and important a part of human nature to be exploited as an instrument of selfish pleasure or excitement. The New Testament champion of this high view of sex (and of marriage) was St. Paul, though he was only applying and amplifying what he had learned from Jesus. 


   The Christian knows what is the standard for his own life, and knows that he cannot get away with the excuse that “he is not made that way.” He has also a responsibility to work for the highest possible standards in society. 

   He knows you cannot make people good by Act of Parliament. What an Act of Parliament is for, is to be a safe-guard. It ought to restrain the wicked, and to shield the weak from the perils of their own weakness, or of the greed or wickedness of others. Naturally Christians will sometimes disagree with each other about the best ways of doing this. But always this is the agreed aim, to consider the weak and the foolish and to protect them from temptation or peril. 

   When the Government comes to formulate an Act of Parliament on the maters [sic] raised in the Wolfenden Report, the question it will have to face will be: Does what is proposed offer the wisest and best protection to the community as a whole, and to its weaker or more foolish members? 

   The Christian looks beyond the Report to the age in which he lives and of which the Report is just one feature. He sees that, like the First Century, though perhaps less blatantly, it is an age which regards sex chiefly as a means to be exploited, for selfish ends, for entertainment, advertising and so forth. It is an age which desperately needs new ideals for its life. It needs to be delivered from the degradation into which its selfishness, greed and lusts are plunging it more and more deeply. It needs new patterns of human behaviour which will do greater justice to the sort of nature which God has entrusted to men and women. It needs a new creation of its life which can only be attained to in and through the Christian faith.” 

At the end of 1958 we have a failure to change legislation due to the fear that homosexuality is something people are recruited into; 

Aberdeen Evening Express, Wednesday 26th November, 1958. 



Law Will Not Be Changed 

   THE Home Secretary, Mr R. A. Butler, moving in the Commons to-day the Government motion to take note of the Wolfenden report on homosexual offences and prostitution, said the Government were satisfied that they would not be justified at present in proposing legislation to carry out the committee’s recommendations concerning homosexuality. 

   “Can we be certain,” he said, “that homosexual conduct between consenting adults is not a source of harm to others? 

   “A homosexual group – and I understand there are such groups – may well draw in and corrupt those who are ordinarily bi-sexual by nature and capable of living normal lives, but are led by curiosity, weakness or, in some cases, purely mercenary motives, into homosexual society. 

   “There is no doubt, from inquiries and researched which I have made,” said Mr Butler, “that many people would at present misunderstand the removal of the prohibition as implying, if not approval, at least condonation by the legislature, of homosexual conduct.” 

Interestingly, bi-sexuality is mentioned as though the speaker has got his head round that being a normal persuasion for folk to have. This may be in line with my mum’s reaction to my stating my dual inclination, “Well at least there’s still the chance of kids” (there wasn’t). Maybe bi-sexual was perfectly acceptable as long as you intended to conform to a heterosexual relationship with 2.4 kids at some point. A friend’s mum was in tears on finding out her daughter was lesbian and sat me down, apparently due to my “experience”, to complain tearfully that she “wanted grandkids” and “why did this have to happen?”, “I mean, what will I tell everybody?!” I dutifully explained just how grandkids was still possible and told her to get over herself. 

It’s lamented in 1969 that immorality in art, in this case at the Edinburgh Festival, is now to be seen as acceptable by even the ecclesiastic faction, much to the writer’s dismay; 

Aberdeen Evening Express, Monday 8th September, 1969. 

   “MR ROBERT SMITH’S article on the Edinburgh Festival was very disappointing. He did not really deal with the issues raised by Malcolm Muggeridge and John Kidd in their complaints about moral laxity. Instead he side-stepped these issues and merely made some flippant and uninspiring remarks. 

   Smith says: “no one wants filth in the guise of artistic endeavour,” but in the context of the article as a whole this statement amounts to moral hypocrisy, for he clearly implies that he had no objection to the portrayal of nudity and homosexuality on the stage. If sodomy is not to be regarded as “filth” we will be extremely hard pressed to define the word at all. 


   Surely the most distressing aspect of the Festival obscenities is that they have apparently received the official approval of the national Church, in whose Assembly Hall they are being staged. 

   This is inexcusable in a day when a strong moral lead from the Church is of the utmost necessity if the flood-tide of filth and futility is to be stemmed.” 

In Aberdeen as late as 1977 there were folk up in court on sodomy charges; 

Aberdeen Press and Journal, Friday 9th September, 1977. 

“Two in court at Peterhead 

   TWO Peterhead youths who appeared on indictment at Peterhead Sheriff Court yesterday on a charge of sodomy had their cases continued for one week for social inquiry reports. 

   Robert Sjoberg (19), 107 Ugie Street, and William Kinnear (21), 9 Blackhouse Terrace, both admitted the offence, which took place in the playground at Peterhead’s North School on August 19.” 

Though whether the charge was heightened by it having been enacted in a public playground I’m not sure. 

John Wayne Gacy, possibly the world’s most notorious homosexual man, had spent 18 months in jail charged with sodomy before receiving the death penalty for the serial killing of young men in 1979. In the US homosexuality wasn’t legalised nationally until 2003. 

Aberdeen Evening Express, Tuesday 9th January, 1979. 

   “THE prosecution says it will seek the death penalty for John Gacy, accused of seven murders and suspected of killing 32 young men. 

   Illinois State’s Attorney Bernad Carey has said he would ask for the death sentence if 36-year-old Gacy was convicted of multiple murder. 

   Mr Carey announced that Gacy, an admitted homosexual who has spent 18 months in jail for sodomy, had been indicted by a Grand Jury on charges of murdering seven youths aged between 15 and 20. 

   The 23-member Grand Jury is expected to hand down more murder indictments later this week against Gacy, a twice-divorced Chicago building contractor. 

   Gacy told police when arrested that he had sexually molested and strangled 32 young men. 

   Police uncovered one of the biggest mass murders in American history when they dug up 27 bodies at Gacy’s suburban bungalow last month. Several of the corpses had ropes around their necks.” 

An interesting wee bit of history is included, relating to a how-to manual James VI. wrote for his son Henry, in an article using the call for women’s rights as its base in 1979; 

Aberdeen Evening Express, Monday 16th July, 1979. 

   “WITH women crying out for liberation and equality, here’s a bit of male chauvinist advice – on how to treat your wife – that would bring outraged howls of protest from women’s libbers. 

   “Treat her as your own flesh, command her as her lord, cherish her as your helper, rule her as your pupil, and please her in all things reasonable.” 

   The man who said that had no fears of violent reaction from his wife or anyone else, for it was written in the 16th century by King James VI. 

   Down through the centuries, men have passed on fatherly advice to their sons, and King James was no exception. 

   In “Basilikon Doron,” one of two books he wrote about kingship, he told Henry, his “dearest son and natural successor,” to gain his subjects’ obedience first by the severity of his justice and then win their hearts by tempering justice with mercy. 

   There were certain crimes which a king was bound never to forgive – witchcraft, wilful murder, incest, sodomy, poisoning and false coin. The sodomy is a curious inclusion, for James himself had homosexual tendencies.” 

I was hoping to come across older articles with regards homosexual women but what do you search for? There was this article distinguishing “grim” women from their masculine or feminine counterparts.  

Fifeshire Journal, Thursday 24th December, 1868, p.2. 


   Almost all histories and mythologies embody the idea of a race of grim females. Whether as fabulous and complex monsters, like the Sphinx and the Harpies, or in the more human forms of the Fates and the Furies, unsexed women have been universally recognised as forming part of the system of nature, and to be accepted among the stranger manifestations of human life. Yet it is hard to understand why they should exist at all. As moral “sports,” extravagancies, exaggerations, they are so far interesting to the anthropologist; but, as women with definite duties and fixed functions, nothing can be more admirable. They are even worse than effeminate men – which is saying everything. The grim female must be carefully distinguished from the masculine woman, for they are by no means essentially the same, though the types may run into each other, and sometimes do. 

   One characteristic of the grim female is her want of any of the womanly passion for children. She may have so much maternal instinct perverted as to be on friendly terms with a dog or two, a cat, or may be a cockatoo; but she has no real affection for children, no comprehension of child nature, and the “sublime nonsense” of the nursery is a thing unknown to her from first to last. 

Any mention of the term “Lesbian” were in fact denoting those from the isle of Lesbos, e.g., “Sappho, the Lesbian lyrist” (Greenock Advertiser, Fri 13th Feb, 1846) and “Terpander, the Lesbian musician” (Aberdeen Press and Journal, Wed 19th Jan, 1848), also, strangely, these sentences, suggesting it as a drink of some type; 

Aberdeen Press and Journal, Wed 15th June, 1853. 

   “This, like all other human corruptions, took time no doubt to develope [sic] and work; for a while men had a reverence for the social board which forbade excess either in eating or drinking; but this sobriety did not last; they began with a glass of innocent Lesbian, but passing by quick degrees from gay morality to easy vice, came at last to drink like horses or Scythians.”  

Glasgow Herald, Saturday 21st October, 1876. 

   “To Horace a cup of innocent Lesbian sufficed, when the jar of stouter Falernian had run out.” 

As well as to animals? Apparently according to Dr. Johnson’s biographer Boswell, there was a Father Mathew who was partial to having varying animals as pets; 

Glasgow Free Press, Saturday 21st November, 1863. 

   “The good father’s pet dog, Sober, and his dearly cherished little Lesbian favourite, the sparrow, Peter, are not they also introduced through these delightful pages not so much to our acquaintance as to our intimacy?” 

Unfortunately, nothing pertinent was found up until 1900 using the search “Lesbian” and I’d say the majority were about a steamer called ‘Lesbian’ who’s routes were carefully noted in the papers for decades. Anyone who’s tried to do research from the papers knows the pain of the search hit not quite being what it seems which makes the filtering of the completely unrelated articles difficult. Some can be funny, such as; 

“Jet-twined lesbian” 

(“most determined fashion”). 

“Haddington Artillery, the Lesbians, and Bril Yeomanry” 

(“Haddington Artillery, the Lothians and Berwick Yeomanry”) 

“frivolous lesbian writer” 

(“frivolous fashion writer”) 

We even have the “Laird of Lesbians” 

(“Laird of Lochlevyn”) 

In the end I was spending hours going through articles with “two women” as the search in a last-ditch attempt to seek out information. I did come across a suggestive piece, that’s fairly racist towards the young female whistle-blower in the case, with the search “two ladies.” The article doesn’t particularly state anything too obviously but the inference is there of what the “two ladies” in question had been libelled with.  

Aberdeen Press and Journal, Thursday 13th June, 1929. 



Case that Shook Edinburgh a Hundred Years Ago. 


   Mr Roughead, W.S., writing in the June quarterly number of the “Juridical Review” Green and Son: 5s. recalls a scandal in Edinburgh in the year 1810 which, although, it was before the Court of Session and the House of Lords for several years, was altogether omitted from the official reports and the legal literature of the time. The case was heard in camera, and the Court ordered that the documents should be destroyed. It happened, however, the famous John Clerk (Lord Eldin) was one of the counsel in the case, and he preserved his papers, as, indeed, it has since been found did another advocate.  

   Misses Woods and Pirie, two ladies, kept a school for the daughters of gentlemen in Drumsheugh Gardens. Unfortunately for themselves, they admitted it to Jane, an illegitimate grand-daughter of Dame Helen Cumming Gordon, relict of Sir Alexander Cumming Gordon of Altyre and Gordonstone. She was half-caste, her mother having been an Indian woman, and her father a son of Lady Cumming Gordon. This girl made serious moral allegations against the two teachers – allegations which, the author says, could only have originated in her Eastern mentality. As a consequence all their pupils were withdrawn, and they were ruined. They sought reparation from Dame Cumming Gordon to the amount of £10,000. The lady fought them tooth and nail for years, greatly to Mr Roughead’s indignation, for, with the majority of the judges, he avers that the girl was a perverted liar, and that her grandmother’s actions were an aggravation of the circumstances. In the end, eleven years afterwards, the Dowager paid up £3500, and the case was withdrawn. But until now, nothing has ever appeared in print regarding a cause celebre which shook the Edinburgh aristocracy.” 

Strangely I could not find even a whisper of their mention from 1800-1900 so it must have been a well-kept secret at the time. Even the name of the hounded Lady “Cumming Gordon” was searched for with no suggestive articles found. It clearly outlines why there wasn’t the same perspective towards the woman as towards the men. Basically, men couldn’t conceive of two women seeking and enjoying an intimate relationship with each other, outside a “perverted liar’s… Eastern mentality.” 

In searching for “Lesbian couple,” the first article we come across from 1978, contains more of the shameful language shown previously against those male victims of society’s misguided perspective; 

Aberdeen Evening Express, Friday 6th January, 1978. 

“Outlaw ‘horrific’ lesbian families, 

says top Tory 

   A TOP Tory today demanded legislation to outlaw the “horrific practice” of providing lesbian couples with children by artificial insemination. 

   Dr Rhodes Boyson, an Opposition education spokesman, said; “To bring children into this world without a natural father is evil and selfish. 

   “This evil must stop for the sake of the potential children and society, which both have enough problems without the extension of this horrific practice.” 

   Dr Boyson, MP for North Brent, went on; “Children have a right to be born into a natural family with a father and mother. Anything less is not only against God’s law, but will cause lifelong deprivation of the most acute kind to the child. 

   “If the medical profession itself will not take action against doctors who take part in this practice, then the state must step in and end it by legislation.” 

   Dr Boyson’s comments follows the disclosure yesterday that six lesbian couples have had children by artificial insemination. 

   “Sappho,” a London-based lesbian organisation, said the couples were referred to a London doctor willing to help them, and all had had “marvellous, super kids.” 

   Ms Jackie Forster, a founder member of Sappho, said; “This help should be available all over the country on the National Health Service.” 

   The doctor involved is said to be away on holiday and unavailable for comment. 

   Sir George Young, Conservative MP for Ealing-Acton in whose constituency the doctor lives, said today that he had written to the Health Minister David Ennals asking him if he will contact the British Medical Association and draw up some guidelines “to curb this activity.” 

   “In my view artificial insemination should only be used in the context of a stable and normal family.” 

There was an interesting debate surrounding homosexual literature from the Aberdeen press in 1978. The Against faction base their arguments on the “but God said” principle as well as one which correlates homosexuality to cannibalism and the last which is particularly patronising and demeaning. They give four examples of letters from Against first then the two For responses so I’ll do the same, they provide a few misconceptions and viewpoints that are seen as particularly archaic, e.g., that there’s propaganda and recruiting going on as though homosexuality is a choice in the same way religion is. I’ll begin with the letter from Oslena Stott they’re responding to; 

Aberdeen Evening Express, Thursday 23rd March, 1978. 

“There is no neutral ground 

   IT IS ridiculous of Aberdeen Lesbian Group to deny that homosexuals corrupt the young. We know they do. All propagandist activity is aimed at making converts to one’s cause. I preach the Gospel because I want everyone, young and old, to know Christ as their saviour. My cause is good because it is of God. The homosexual cause is evil and is condemned by God. Those in favour of homosexuality are against God, those who think they can be neutral are also against God. There is no neutral ground where Christ is concerned. We are either for Him or against Him. The Bible tells us that holiness is not infectious, but evil is. 

   The Devil, being a liar, likes to give his works names that conceal their true character from the foolish. He calls homosexuality, which leads to depression, suicide and murder, “gay.” It is indeed truer to call homosexuals queers (their word, not mine) for their behaviour is unnatural and perverted. Homosexual men and lesbian women are people who have wilfully chosen to depart from what is normal. 

   When God made a help-meet for the first man, Adam. He didn’t make another man. He made a woman. Heterosexuality is normality. Homosexuals dishonour their own bodies between themselves, being given up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts and vile affections. They know that God’s judgment says they are worthy of death, but they deliberately put this knowledge out of their minds, preferring their sin. – Oslena Stott, [XX] Woodburn Avenue, Aberdeen.” 

The four Against; 

“Stand up for decency 

   I FEEL only disgust and dismay with those few people who assumed the right to decide for us that this corrupt homosexual literature, produced and purchased by society’s degenerates, should be encouraged by putting it on display in public places. 

   I have only pity for those committee members who have given their personal seal of approval to this public disgrace. 

   It would appear that the committee has decided to directly oppose the explicit law of God by encouraging the publicity of these lewd and debauched activities thereby misleading the public into the belief that such practises should be tolerated as a normality of present-day life. 

   It seems obvious that by ignoring the well-established codes of morality, by which our society has been able to perpetuate its existence, we may swiftly feel the wrath of God as it was justly administered on the sins of Sodom. 

   How this committee could possibly believe that they were acting on behalf of the general public is very hard to grasp. The thoughts and cravings of those homosexuals among us, who are so possessed by their sexual appetites that they have allowed their mental and physical activities to become debased and perverted, are of no interest to the normal, decent person. 

   I therefore appeal to you to make a stand for decency and morality against the onslaught of filth and depravity prevalent in our present society. – Colin Sutherland, [XXX] King Street, Aberdeen.” 


“A nauseating decision 

   I FIND it nauseating that “Gay News” may soon be on display in Aberdeen Public Library. We all accept the fact of social misfits in our society, but surely self discipline ought to be exercised. 

   I object to those committee members who voted in favour of the display. It seems to me they are acting as field officers, recruiting new members of this decadent lot. 

   Hunger for sex is the same as hunger for food, but I would rather die than be a cannibal. I look on it as repugnant, unnatural lust that should be contested and repressed if we are to have a healthy society. – Grandmother, Kincorth.” 


“It’s a heinous sin 

   IN YOUR issue of March 8, the Aberdeen Lesbian Group replied to Mrs Stott who justly denounced the heinous sin of homosexuality. 

   Mrs Stott bears no hatred to the group, any more than I do. There is a Saviour who came to save the lost, including lesbians and homosexuals. 

   Let us hope the Lesbian Group will come to Christ and ask his pardon and God will give them new and decent lives. – John A. Mackay, [XX] Seaton Drive, Aberdeen.” 


“Slaves to a kinky mind 

   I THINK Caroline Airs’ mother took her too often on her knee – and too seldom across it. 

   Poor Mrs Airs, I suppose she could not have known what to do for the best. Her daughter comes home from school and says that she suspects she may [be] a lesbian. 

   I can imagine myself coming home from school and telling my father that I thought I might be a burglar. He would knock all the burglar nonsense out of me. 

   I must support everything Mrs Stott has said. Homosexuals do not have to be homosexual any more than burglars have to be burglars. They are sexual perverts because they like it that way – they are slaves to a kinky mind. – “Observer,” Aberdeen.” 


The two letters For, the first of which is in poem form; 

“Judge not – lest ye… 

   I REPLY to the moral strictures of Mrs Oslena Stott: 

Oh dear, Mrs Stott, stern rebuker of sin 

What a state of self-righteous now you are in. 

You take on the note of a moral improver 

But end up as simply a joyless reprover 

Of your own rectitude so completely sure 

Infallably judge of what’s bad, what is pure. 

But think for a wee – if you do go to heaven 

Your stern moral judgements you may have to leaven. 


Let’s recall to your memory a Biblical scene 

– You surely have read of the poor Magdalene – 

Whom the stern unco-guid of an ancient society 

Wished to stone unto death as a mark of their piety. 

Who was it that then put an end to their din 

By asking which of them had never known sin? 

– And WHO’S to decide what is good, what is bad? 

– Was not Noah, himself, a bit of a lad? 


What happened when young Ham discovered his Dad 

Lying drunk and incapable – and what’s more, UNCLAD? 

His two other brothers he (backwards) then led 

They covered him up – eyes averted – then fled. 

Poor Ham! For his pains, which his father did save, 

Was told his descendants would all live to slave. 

What comfort he might have found in that hour 

Had he glimpsed in the future the dawn of Black Power. 

He’d have said to himself, “Be I black – be I white, 

To hell with the bigots – I’ll do what is right. 

What I think is right – not what bigots command 

I will sing my own song – I will join my own band.” 


Oh, poor Mrs Stott, in your sterilised bower, 

Your song is so bitter, your outlook so sour 

Too much exercised over OTHER’S transgressions 

Why not now engage in some frank self confession? 

There’s a phrase you must know – it says “God is love!” 

– The trouble is, some folk think God’s high above. 

Bring your faith down to earth. Don’t be so damned sure 

That you’re God’s deputy – only YOU are pure. 

It might make a dent in your own self conceit 

But you’d be much more human – more nearly complete. 


Have a go, Mrs Stott, learn to laugh and then play  

If you try hard enough – you might even get gay. 

– R.H. Cooney, [XX] Urquhart Road, Aberdeen.” 

“Oslena’s fiery twaddle 

   THE ARTICLE entitled “Oslena’s fiery warning” (“Evening Express,” March 7), must stand out as the best bit of twaddle I have read in some time. She seemed hell bent on imposing her own form of Press censorship. 

   I am happy to read in the “Evening Express” that the District Council Libraries Committee decided otherwise and is to give us, the public, a chance to make up our own minds. 

   I must, as a young person, take very strong exception to her statement that someone of my age, on picking up a copy of “Gay News” and then meeting a homosexual would then fall to “temptation.” I would think that most young people would have twice the common-sense of Mrs Stott and, on such an issue as this, require a great deal more convincing. – Philip Gregson, [XX] Desswood Place, Aberdeen.” 

Homosexuality was legalised in Section 80 of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 1980. This was enacted from 1 Feb., 1981. But some didn’t take this legislative amendment well; 

Aberdeen Evening Express, Monday 15th November, 1982. 

“Keep them in the closet 

   THE SILENT majority remaining true to form, perhaps I may be allowed to speak for them and to say something in defence of those Councillors who are being pilloried by your homosexual readers and their apologists. 

   Britain is relatively tolerant of minority groups, even when at their most vociferous, until, that is, they are considered to pose a threat to the well-established mores instituted by us – the silent majority. 

   When there is reason to believe such a threat exists, it is incumbent upon our elected representatives, nationally and locally, to take action on our behalf to contain the threat. It may be that, on occasion, our mentors are over-zealous. 

   However, I would suggest that many of us are concerned that a too-liberal attitude towards the “Gay Lib. Movement” could result in an erosion of some of those standards we have been at pains to establish. 

   It has been argued that homosexual behaviour is covert and that if it occurs between consenting adults it harms no one and should not claim that they were being discriminated against for they would go unrecognised. 

   So, by this reckoning, some of their public behaviour must be offensive to the rest of us and we, being in the majority, have the democratic right to minimise the nuisance. 

   By definition and inclination homosexuals are deviants and, like other deviant groups, whether they be criminals, religious freaks, political extremists or whatever, they have to recognise that conformity is the name of the game and that behaviour cannot be tolerated which is calculated to significantly violate the norms of the society in which they choose to live. 

   It has to be admitted that many attitudes in an anti-homosexual stance is “before-the event” phenomena, but it should be remembered that the consensus is that homosexual behaviour is learned behaviour, there being little to suggest that a hormonal imbalance is the cause and, if it were genetic, it would have been bred out of the race generations ago. 

   So we are particularly concerned that our male children are not seduced, for sodomy is as unnatural and as abhorrent to us now as it was when it received the name. At a more personal level we don’t enjoy being embarrassed by homosexuals and are uneasy in their company, and this explains in part the reluctance to appear too sanguine at the prospect of them gaining the full integration they seek. 

   The destiny which shapes our ends has seen fit to ensure that a certain conjunction of them gives mutual pleasure and propagates the race; that a minority find pleasure in an unnatural conjunction which does not, is a reprehensible fact which we would like to keep in the closet as long as possible. 

– L. Bingham, [XX] Provost Graham Avenue, Aberdeen.” 


After the Millenium a whole slew of rights and amendments, were enacted to protect those in the LGBTQ community; 

2004 Gender Recognition Act.  
2005 Civil partnerships made available.  
2009 Adoption/parental rights given.  
2010 Protection from discrimination.  
2014 Same-sex marriage made available.  
2018 ‘x’ sex descriptor on ID documents was made available & the transition minimum age reduced to 16.  
June 2018 Scottish Parliament passed the Historical Sexual Offences (Pardons & Disregards) Act 2018.  

The Scotland of today is a fairly liberal and accepting country to which those persecuted in other countries are free to come to for asylum & acceptance. The Pride marches and celebrations, in Glasgow, begin this year (2019) with MardiGla on the 20th of July. Look out for the RSH team who’ll be joining as Rainbow Unicorns to celebrate the progression of our country out of the days when folk with inclinations, outwith that seen as “normal”, were persecuted and denied sympathy. To those seeking more information please take a minute to go and investigate the Women’s Library on Landressy Street, Glasgow, near Bridgeton Cross, or visit their excellent LGBTQ Collections Online Resource

RSH at Mardi Gla 2019 

1  The king’s majesty’s gracious and free pardon, act of indemnity and oblivion

The king’s most excellent majesty, considering that by the late troubles diverse of his subjects of this his ancient kingdom of Scotland have fallen under and are involved in many great crimes, faults, offences and other deeds of commission and omission, whereby they have contravened the laws of this kingdom and thereby rendered themselves liable to the pains, penalties and censures due thereto; and being most desirous that a perfect peace is settled in this kingdom, and that all his good subjects may be sensible of and enjoy the happiness and blessings of his government, and that no crime, offence or other deed whatsoever committed against his majesty or his royal father, of blessed memory, or by any of his majesty’s subjects against another in relation to the late troubles, shall hereafter rise in judgment or be brought in question against any of them before any judge civil or criminal, to the prejudice either of their lives, estates, offices, privileges, liberties or reputations, but that all seeds of future differences and remembrance of former proceedings, may as well, by his majesty as by his subjects one towards another, be forgotten, and that all names of reproach or distinction which have been used, or may revive the memory of the late differences, are buried in oblivion; therefore his majesty, of his signal prudence, grace and goodness does, with advice and consent of his estates of parliament, declare, statute and ordain that all manner of treasons, rebellions, murders, offences, crimes, contempts, injuries, misdemeanours and all other deeds, as well of commission as omission, committed, acted or done by any person or persons, by virtue of any power or warrant of any pretended parliament, council or their committees, commanders of armies, or others pretending authority under whatsoever title, name or designation, since 1 January 1637, and before 1 September 1660 (other than such as are hereafter excepted in this present act) be and are hereby pardoned, released, indemnified and discharged; and that all and every person and persons or incorporations acting, advising, assisting or abating the same, and their heirs, executors and successors (except as shall be hereafter excepted) are hereby pardoned and indemnified and discharged thereof, and of all pains of forfeiture, death, fines, imprisonment, banishment and other pains, penalties, action and question, civil or criminal; and of all decreets, sentences, acts or orders passed thereupon, and all other damage, prejudice and inconveniences whatsoever they or any of them might or may be liable to for the same; all which pains, sentences and others foresaid are hereby declared void and null in all time coming; and that this free and general pardon, indemnity and oblivion shall be as effectual in law to every one of his majesty’s subjects, and bodies politic and incorporate, and person or persons whatsoever, in for and against all things (which are not after excepted) as if the said persons’ crimes, offences, injuries, deeds, misdemeanours, penalties, decreets, sentences and orders had been specially and particularly here inserted and in express words, pardoned and released; and that none are hereafter, in any manner of way, pursued or questioned for the same, but that this act shall be, in all cases in judgment and outwith the same, a sufficient defence and exoneration to all parties concerned; and also discharging hereby all and sundry judges, civil and criminal, to give order for intending any process, either at the instance of his majesty’s advocate against the subjects, or at the instance of any of the subjects against another, for any of the said crimes, faults, offences or other deeds, or to proceed in any process already intended or to be intended thereupon. And his majesty, with advice foresaid, does hereby statute and ordain that every clause and word in this present act is to be understood and interpreted in the most favourable sense so that the expression may bear for indemnity of the whole persons who may have interest therein; excepting always, from this present act and the pardon and indemnity therein contained, all such persons (if any be) who were guilty of and accessory to any previous transactions and bargains of money for carrying on of that procedure concerning his majesty’s person condemned by the tenth act of the first session of this present parliament, and excepting all such (if any be) who, upon any contrivance, were art and part of the horrid murder of his late majesty, of blessed memory, and likewise excepting all private murders, thefts, witchcrafts, incests, buggeries, briberies, forging of false writs, perjuries, usuries and other crimes of that nature not relating to the late troubles, and the accounts of all such persons as have intromitted with any of his majesty’s revenues, public impositions, excise, fines, forfeitures, sequestrations and all other public money for which they had not order, warrant or assignment (for their own private use) or for which they have not duly accounted and received discharges thereof from such as pretended to have the authority for the time to do the same, and also excepting all such persons who have been forfeited or declared fugitives in this present parliament, or by the committee of estates since August 1660, and particularly excepting the decreets of forfeiture against Archibald Campbell, late marquis of Argyll, Archibald Johnston, sometime called Sir Archibald Johnston of Wariston, John Swinton, sometime called of Swinton, James Guthrie, William Govan, John Home and William Dundas, James Campbell, sometime called of Ardkinglas and James Campbell, sometime called of Orinsay, which decreets are to stand in full force and have further execution conforming to the tenors thereof. And likewise, excepting all decreets, sentences, assignments and orders passed, given and renewed by this present parliament in favour of any person or persons, and without prejudice of the generality foresaid, excepting such persons as to the payment of such sums of money as are respectively expressed in another act passed in this parliament entitled, act concerning some exceptions from the act of indemnity.  

Charles II: Translation   

1662, 8 May, Edinburgh, Parliament   

Parliamentary Register   

At Edinburgh 9 September 1662   

Legislation: The king’s majesty’s gracious and free pardon, act of indemnity and oblivion.

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