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Lord Monson moved Amendment No. 1:

Page 2, line 18, at end insert ("male").

The noble Lord said: In moving the above amendment, I shall, with the leave of the Committee, speak also to Amendment No. 3. It may seem like a technical amendment but it is rather more than that. I am sure that every Member of the Committee will agree that Acts of Parliament ought rigorously to safeguard the integrity of the English language. I pointed out on Second Reading that the word "lesbian" was a tautology as the word "homosexual" embraces lesbian, so to speak. However, as I interpreted it, the noble Baroness, Lady Turner, argued in effect that Acts of Parliament ought to be intelligible to the individual in the street who probably would not realise that "homo" derives from Greek and not from Latin and has nothing whatever to do with man.

Accordingly, I suggest the compromise to be found in the amendment whereby the word "lesbian" would be retained. In that case, it is essential to insert the word "male" before "homosexual" otherwise the phrasing would be nonsensical. Indeed, it would be rather like stating:

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I am sure that women would be most insulted if that were to happen. I beg to move.

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Lord Henley): I did not intend to intervene on these two amendments or, for that matter, in the next grouping of amendments to be moved by the noble Lord, Lord Monson. I made the Government's position quite clear on Second Reading. We do not believe that the Bill is either necessary or particularly desirable.

However, I should underline what the noble Lord said when moving the two amendments. If the promoters of the Bill believe that it is important, necessary or indeed desirable, obviously it is important for them to address the serious problems relating to definition and ensure that the legislation makes sense. Therefore, depending on what the noble Lord wishes to do with the amendments, I hope that those promoting the Bill will take note of what he has to say.

10 p.m.

Earl Russell: This is an unnecessary amendment. I do not think there is any doubt about what the Bill means and, while the noble Lord, Lord Monson, may be correct in his grammatical arguments, we have to face the fact that language changes. Language in this area is used by people under 25 years of age; it is used with a very different set of meanings from that with which it may be used in this Chamber. I think it reasonable, in drafting a Bill, to draft it in such a way that it will be useable to those at present under 25. Therefore, this amendment is not only unnecessary, it may even be undesirable.

Baroness Turner of Camden: I share the view that has just been expressed by the noble Earl, Lord Russell. I see no reason for this amendment. I believe that the terms used in my Bill are very widely understood. Indeed, as recently as this week there was an article by a well-known counsel, David Pannick, QC, in The Times, where he actually made use of the phraseology. He says:

    "Discrimination against homosexuals and lesbians"--
--note, "homosexuals and lesbians"--

    "in the workplace remains common. Of course, legislation should not impose unreasonable burdens on industry. But for Parliament to do nothing would aid and abet injustice."
Throughout his article he makes use of the terms which are in my Bill. As I said earlier, they are very widely understood, and I see no reason to import into the wording of my Bill the extra word referred to in the amendment. Therefore, as the sponsor of the Bill, I do not find the amendment particularly acceptable.

Lord Monson: I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Henley, for his support. I am afraid I cannot say the same for the speeches of the noble Earl, Lord Russell, or the noble Baroness. As for people under 25 using incorrect English, I believe we should do well to educate people and to encourage the use of correct English rather than succumb to what they happen to feel like speaking at any particular moment. Perhaps we should also educate some of our QCs, too, if they cannot speak English properly.

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Furthermore, my amendment does not make the clause less easy to understand, even for those who are ignorant of the slightest degree of Greek or Latin. It simply clarifies it. However, at this stage of the evening in an exceptionally thin House, there seems no point in pushing the matter to a Division. It would give a distorted result. Therefore, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment while reserving the right to reintroduce it at a later stage.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Monson moved Amendment No. 2:

Page 2, line 19, leave out ("lesbian or bisexual") and insert ("or lesbian").

The noble Lord said: With the leave of the Committee, in moving Amendment No. 2, I will speak at the same time to Amendment No. 4. These are probing amendments. At Second Reading, I questioned whether genuine bisexual orientation existed. One hundred per cent. homosexuals who are quite unable to have relations with the opposite sex fall into a different category. One has to feel sorry for them and a case could be made for outlawing discrimination against this specific group, although it would still be anomalous, as there would remain many other physical conditions against which it would remain perfectly legal to discriminate. However, bisexuality is surely a matter of choice, of taste, of convenience. The Sunday Telegraph last Sunday on page 27 described a left-wing university in California where bisexual experimentation was almost compulsory as a result of peer group pressure. The place seems to be stuck in a 1960s time-warp, the idea being to demonstrate contempt for bourgeois conventions.

At Second Reading I spoke of behaviour in single sex institutions and of the cynical bisexual sensualist to be found in the novel of Simon Raven. A few such characters exist in real life. This group cite the Ancient Greeks to justify their behaviour, but the point about the Ancient Greeks is not that they possessed an abundance of "bisexual genes" but that they did not subscribe to Judaeo-Christian morality. There were therefore no religious or cultural barriers to their having sexual relations with almost anything that moved, if they felt so inclined. The Ancient Greeks had a word for it--hedonism.

In a free society people have the right to be hedonistic or self-indulgent if they choose, but in return they should not expect the civil and criminal law to force other people to welcome them with open arms, metaphorically speaking. If, and only if, medical evidence can be produced to demonstrate that a substantial proportion of bisexuals genuinely cannot help their behaviour, then I might be prepared to change my mind, but not otherwise. I beg to move.

Lord Rea: I feel that the noble Lord by his speech hoists himself by his own petard because if people can be persuaded--if you like--into bisexual activity so easily as he suggests, it emphasises the point that perhaps many of us are possibly a little ambivalent in our sexual orientation, much more so perhaps than is commonly admitted. If that is the case, it seems to be

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all the more important that someone who has been labelled as bisexual should not be discriminated against in questions of employment. I found the noble Lord's argument singularly unconvincing.

Earl Russell: I noticed with interest the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Monson, on this subject at Second Reading. I very nearly challenged them then. He is, I believe, quite seriously mistaken when he queries the concept of a bisexual orientation. To argue that case I need not take him to California; I take him no further than Whitehall Palace, to the case of King James VI and I--a fairly well documented life. There is no doubt whatever of James's homosexuality. He had male lovers at various stages of his life from his teens down to his 60s, but he also had a long marriage and three children begotten in lawful wedlock. If that does not make a person bisexual, I do not know what does.

There are also a number of people of a predominantly homosexual orientation who at least once in their lives have found themselves attracted by a woman. One must consider the existence of these people and one must have a law that provides for them. If this amendment were to be carried, we would have the potentially illogical and indeed confusing situation that heterosexuals are protected from discrimination, homosexuals are protected from discrimination, but those who have experience of both ways of life are not protected at all. It gets a little like Hilaire Belloc's garden party and the people "in between" look poor and underdone and harassed and mean and horribly embarrassed. I really do not think that that is necessary. One must also consider the effect of introducing an amendment which might risk disqualifying from the protection of the Bill anyone who has had one heterosexual experience. One effect of this, of course, is that anyone who is predominantly homosexual in orientation would be deeply discouraged from attempting any heterosexual experience, which would mean that any prospect of their orientation changing--as has been known--would be very much reduced. I wonder whether that was what the noble Lord intended.

One must also consider the possibility of an employer, perhaps one suffering from a great deal of prejudice, who might search to find this single heterosexual experience to justify a dismissal which perhaps might have been undertaken purely for economic reasons. I do not know also whether the noble Lord is familiar with the case of Pepper v. Hart and its implications. It is now possible for judges to look, if there is doubt, at what was said in the House. That means that the effect of having the word "bisexual" in the Bill and then cutting it out again would be different from the effect of never having included it in the first place. The courts would see a deliberate desire to exclude, which would mean that one lot would be included, the other lot would be included and the people in between would be left to Belloc's garden party. I see no sense in that.

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