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On the Road to Permissiveness?Change and Convergence of Moral Regulation in Europe$
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Christoph Knill, Christian Adam, and Steffen Hurka

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198743989

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198743989.001.0001

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patterns of hidden compensation on the road towards sexual liberty

(p.157) 9 Homosexuality
On the Road to Permissiveness?

Stephan Heichel

Oxford University Press

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.

Keywords:   homosexuality, regulating sexuality, age of consent, Great Britain, Sexual Offences Act, policy change, morality policy

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