Sexual Offences Act 1967

JurisdictionUK Non-devolved
Citation1967 c. 60


Sexual Offences Act 1967

1967 CHAPTER 60

An Act to amend the law of England and Wales relating to homosexual acts.

[27th July 1967]

Be it enacted by the Queen's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—

S-1 Amendment of law relating to homosexual acts in private.

1 Amendment of law relating to homosexual acts in private.

(1) Notwithstanding any statutory or common law provision, but subject to the provisions of the next following section, a homosexual act in private shall not be an offence provided that the parties consent thereto and have attained the age of twenty-one years.

(2) An act which would otherwise be treated for the purposes of this Act as being done in private shall not be so treated if done—

(a ) when more than two persons take part or are present; or

(b ) in a lavatory to which the public have or are permitted to have access, whether on payment or otherwise.

(3) A man who is suffering from severe subnormality within the meaning of the Mental Health Act 1959 cannot in law give any consent which, by virtue of subsection (1) of this section, would prevent a homosexual act from being an offence, but a person shall not be convicted, on account of the incapacity of such a man to consent, of an offence consisting of such an act if he proves that he did not know and had no reason to suspect that man to be suffering from severe subnormality.

(4) Section 128 of the Mental Health Act 1959 (prohibition on men on the staff of a hospital, or otherwise having responsibility for mental patients, having sexual intercourse with women patients) shall have effect as if any reference therein to having unlawful sexual intercourse with a woman included a reference to committing buggery or an act of gross indecency with another man.

(5) Subsection (1) of this section shall not prevent an act from being an offence (other than a civil offence) under any provision of the Army Act 1955 , the Air Force Act 1955 or the Naval Discipline Act 1957 .

(6) It is hereby declared that where in any proceedings it is charged that a homosexual act is an offence the prosecutor shall have the burden of proving that the act was done otherwise than in private or otherwise than with the consent of the parties or that any of the parties had not attained the age of twenty-one years.

(7) For the purposes of this section a man shall be treated as doing a homosexual act if, and only if, he commits buggery with another man or commits an act of gross indecency with another man or is a party to the commission by a man of such an act.

S-2 Homosexual acts on merchant ships.

2 Homosexual acts on merchant ships.

(1) It shall continue to be—

(a ) an offence under section 12 of the Act of 1956 and at common law for a man to commit buggery with another man in circumstances in which by reason of the provisions of section 1 of this Act it would not be an offence (apart from this section); and

(b ) an offence under section 13 of that Act for a man to commit an act of gross indecency with another man, or to be party to the commission by a man of such an act, in such circumstances as aforesaid,

provided that the act charged is done on a United Kingdom merchant ship, wherever it may be, by a man who is a member of the crew of that ship with another man who is a member of the crew of that or any other United Kingdom merchant ship.

(2) Section 11 of the Criminal Justice Act 1925 (venue in indictable offences) shall apply to an act which is an offence by virtue of this section as if it were an offence when done on land.

(3) In this section—

‘member of the crew’ in relation to a ship, includes the master of the ship and any apprentice to the sea service serving in that ship;

‘United Kingdom merchant ship’ means a ship registered in the United Kingdom habitually used or used at the time of the act charged for the purposes of carrying passengers or goods for reward.

S-3 Revised punishments for homosexual acts.

3 Revised punishments for homosexual acts.

(1) The maximum punishment which may be imposed on conviction on indictment of a man for buggery with another man of or over the age of sixteen shall, instead of being imprisonment for life as prescribed by paragraph 3 of Schedule 2 to the Act of 1956, be—

(a ) imprisonment for a term of ten years except where the other man consented thereto; and

(b ) in the said excepted case, imprisonment for a term of five years if the accused is of or over the age of twenty-one and the other man is under that age, but otherwise two years;

and the maximum punishment prescribed by that paragraph for an attempt to commit buggery with another man (ten years) shall not apply where that other man is of or over the age of sixteen.

(2) The maximum punishment which may be imposed on conviction on indictment of a man of or over the age of twenty-one of committing an act of gross indecency with another man under that age or of being a party to or procuring or attempting to procure the commission by a man under that age of such an act with another man shall, instead of being imprisonment for a term of two years as prescribed by paragraph 16 of the said Schedule 2, be imprisonment for a term of five years.

(3) References in this section to a person's age, in relation to any offence, are references to his age at the time of the commission of the offence.

(4) Accordingly the said Schedule 2 shall be amended as follows:—

(a ) in paragraph 3(a ) for the word ‘Life’ there shall be substituted the words ‘If with a boy under the age of sixteen or with a woman or an animal, life; otherwise the relevant punishment prescribed by section 3 of the Sexual Offences Act 1967’;

(b ) in paragraph 3(b ) for the words ‘Ten years’ there shall be substituted the words ‘If with a boy under the age of sixteen or with a woman or an animal, ten years’;

(c ) in paragraph 16(a ) for the words ‘Two years’ there shall be substituted the words ‘If by a man of or over the age of twenty-one with a man under that age, five years; otherwise two years’;

(d ) in paragraph 16(b ) for the words ‘Two years’ there shall be substituted the words ‘If the attempt is by a man of or over the age of twenty-one to procure a man under that age to commit an act of gross indecency with another man, five years; otherwise two years’.

S-4 Procuring others to commit homosexual acts.

4 Procuring others to commit homosexual acts.

(1) A man who procures another man to commit with a third man an act of buggery which by reason of section 1 of this Act is not an offence shall be liable on conviction on indictment to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years.

(2) The Act of 1952 shall have...

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