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In 1885, homosexuality was only illegal in regards to the act of buggery, for which the punishment was to be kept in penal servitude for life. This changed when Henry Labouchere, Liberal MP for Northampton and strong opponent of homosexuality, introduced Section 11 of the 1885 Criminal Law Amendment Act which made all homosexual acts of ‘gross indecency’ illegal. The bill was primarily concerned with the protection of women and girls by increasing the age of consent and yet this small section in the Act was a pivotal change in homosexual legislation. Unusually, this section was passed during a late night debate in the House of Commons with only a few MPs present. It was under this Act that Oscar Wilde and Alan Turing, among many others, were convicted and punished for committing homosexual acts.
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