A Minority; a Report on the Life of the Male Homosexual in Great Britain

A Minority; a Report on the Life of the Male Homosexual in Great Britain

A Minority; a Report on the Life of the Male Homosexual in Great Britain

A Minority; a Report on the Life of the Male Homosexual in Great Britain

Excerpt

BY
SIR JOHN WOLFENDEN

VERY little is known about homosexuality or about those who commit homosexual acts. A good many opinions are expressed, both about the condition itself and about the number and the nature of those who behave homosexually. But these opinions are seldom backed by evidence, still less by anything approaching scientific proof.

I therefore welcome this study, undertaken by Mr. Westwood on behalf of the British Social Biology Council. The spirit of the whole book is gracefully modest and Mr. Westwood admirably avoids the temptation to make exaggerated claims for it; he classes himself with the collectors of facts who precede the scientific interpreters.

Within its deliberate limits the survey seems to me to be excellent. By painstaking enquiries, based on personal conversations, Mr. Westwood has accumulated a great deal of factual information on these difficult and complicated questions. He is, rightly, more concerned to present fact than to seek confirmation of glib hypotheses; and all subsequent workers will be deeply in his debt.

Not the least of his services is the apparently simple one of pointing out the danger of pre-judging the very issues we are investigating. For instance, there is no agreed definition of 'a homosexual'. Indeed, it is probable that the crude popular distinction between 'homosexuals' and 'heterosexuals' misleadingly over-simplifies the problem and should be superseded by the notion of a 'heterosexual-homosexual continuum', with a recognition that in each human being there are present varying proportions of each propensity. Again, on such questions as early family background, professional occupations, frequency of homosexual behaviour, heterosexual interests, and adjustment to society, Mr. Westwood's findings will help to clear up many loosely-worded ambiguities.

Undoubtedly the present state of the law in this country is itself an important factor in this whole complicated situation ; and undoubtedly the 'surface morality' of our society today finds it hard to tolerate homosexual behaviour between men, though it is . . .

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