Sexuality and the State: The campaign for Scottish Homosexual Law Reform, 1967-80

Roger Davidson, Gayle Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The historiography of homosexual law reform in late-twentieth-century Britain has mainly focused on the sexual politics surrounding the Wolfenden Committee and the 1967 Sexual Offences Act (applicable only in England and Wales). Using a range of government archives and the papers of the Scottish Minorities Group (SMG), this article explores the campaign to introduce law reform for Scotland in the period 1967–80. It focuses on the interface between the SMG and Scottish governance and how it shaped the fortunes of a succession of measures designed to advance the legal status of homosexuals north of the Border. It concludes that the achievement of limited decriminalisation in 1980 was a pyrrhic victory and that the main reason for the partial and protracted process of reform was less the tactics of the SMG, or the lack of Scottish legislative autonomy, than the continuing homophobic culture within Scottish politics and society.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)533 - 558
Number of pages26
JournalContemporary British History
Volume20 (4)
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jan 2007


  • homosexual law reform
  • government
  • policy-making
  • Late Twentieth Century Scotland
  • sexuality


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