November 16, 1969 – News for this day, from the NET Nightly program Newsfront, was mostly devoted to recent changes in British Law legalizing Homosexuality. Based on findings from The Wolfenden Report, the report commissioned in 1957 in answer to a study considering changes in the existing law making Homosexuality a crime in Britain, was amended in 1969 to legalize sexual relations between consenting Gay Males and Females and no longer making it a crime. The actions were largely stemmed from the recent Stonewall Riots in New York earlier in the year, and the increased protests of draconian laws and discrimination of the Gay community in the UK.
The effect was profound and the Campaign For Homosexual Equality was formed to counter discrimination and to push for acceptance in British Society.
In this episode of Newsfront – a discussion between Lady Gaitskill, a member of the House of Lords, and Anthony Grey, Secretary of the Campaign For Homosexual Equality over the changes to the law, what those changes entailed and what was still left to challenge.
Most people assume the 1960s were about Protesting the War in Vietnam, and those protests did take center stage in much of what we read and saw. But it was also the decade of protest for many other things. The Stonewall Riots in New York earlier in 1969 brought about the protests which followed, and in turn focused attention on a segment of our society who suffered from violence and discrimination as much as any other minority group. 1969 was also the year the Women’s Movement began to get rolling.
All these elements were part of the great upheaval in our society, as voices of those who felt marginalized by our Society demanded a voice. So as much as the Stonewall Protests influenced laws in Britain, the change of laws in Britain had an effect on Gay Rights in the U.S.
It was a time for a lot of change – and none of it was quiet.
This broadcast also features an interview between Theatre/Film critic John Simon and playwright Tom Stoppard regarding new productions of his work on Broadway.
They don’t make News programs like this anymore. Shame.