Queer Profits: Homosexual Scandal and the Origins of Legal Reform in Britain

Bengry, Justin. 2012. Queer Profits: Homosexual Scandal and the Origins of Legal Reform in Britain. In: Matt Cook and Heike Bauer, eds. Queer 1950s: Rethinking Sexuality in the Postwar Years. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 167-182. ISBN 978-0-230-30069-9 [Book Section]

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Newspapers are consumer goods, and their producers actively seek methods to increase circulation and revenue. For some, relaying the scandal and titillation at the intersection of sexual aberration and criminal offence promised significant returns. Audiences followed the Sunday papers for this kind of respectable pornography, which provided lurid details of sexual abnormality decontaminated for their consumption through the inclusion of details of legal process and punishment. Press commodification of queer scandal grew so lucrative, in fact, that it contributed to the creation of homosexuality as a public issue attracting government concern and ultimately requiring state intervention. Criminalised in Britain until 1967, male homosexual acts entered public discourse in the early 1950s as never before. But the government was not solely interested in homosexual legal reform. Its initial interest was in commercial exploitation. Paradoxically, then, the profit motivations of the scandal press that both vilified but also publicised homosexual desire must be considered part of the history of legal reform in Britain that led to the decriminalisation of homosexuality.

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Book Section

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law reform, homosexuality, Great Britain, Wolfenden, capitalism, pink pound, 1950s, queer, lgbt

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14 Nov 2017 15:45

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14 Nov 2017 15:45



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