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Wolfenden Report

In 1885 the Criminal Law Amendment Act made homosexual acts between men illegal and by 1954 the number of men imprisoned for homosexual acts had risen to over one-thousand a year. This led to calls for an enquiry into the legality of homosexuality and prostitution. In August 1954 the Government set up the Wolfenden Committee, named after its chairman, John Wolfenden. The report was published 5th September 1957 and attracted a large amount of publicity. The report proposed that there ‘must remain a realm of private morality and immorality which is, in brief and crude terms, not the law's business' and recommended that homosexual acts between two consenting adults should no longer be a criminal offence. The report's findings were debated in Parliament but a motion in 1960 to implement the report's findings was lost and efforts to implement the report's findings were stalled.


Report of the Committee on Homosexual Offences and Prostitution


29 Oct 1957

Catalogue number

Parliamentary Archives, HL/PO/JO/10/11/579/1527