patterns of hidden compensation on the road towards sexual liberty
Since the 1960s, almost all countries in Western Europe have shifted towards more permissive styles of regulating homosexuality. This has mostly been the result of two intermediate shifts: as expected for manifest morality policies, the impulse on authoritarian styles of regulation was deflected into compensatory policy changes during early reforms before 1980. Surprisingly, however, later reforms seem at first glance to have simply transmitted impulses pushing towards more permissive styles of regulating homosexuality. By analysing developments in Great Britain, which stands out from the sample as particularly at odds with theoretical expectations, this chapter makes two arguments. On the one hand, the low institutional hurdles for policy-making in Britain have lowered the effective need for compromise and therefore compensatory policy shifts. On the other hand, compensatory elements can generally be detected when one extends one’s focus beyond the regulation of homosexuality to regulating sexuality and the age of consent.
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