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Baroness Turner of Camden: I agree entirely with the noble Earl on this amendment. I find it unacceptable;

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it makes no sense whatever to me. It means that, if the Bill went through, an individual who was totally homosexual or lesbian would be covered by the protection of the new legislation, but one who was mainly heterosexual but also had orientation occasionally towards a person of the same sex would not have protection. That would be quite unacceptable and would not fall within the general feeling of the new legislation.

Oscar Wilde was bisexual--a well documented case to which I referred at Second Reading. As we know, he had male lovers but he also had a family and children. There are many cases of bisexuals and I am surprised that the noble Lord, Lord Monson, should believe apparently that the category does not exist. It does and we want it to have the protection of the legislation. I oppose the amendment.

Lord Monson: The noble Lord, Lord Rea, and the noble Earl, Lord Russell, accused me of missing the point. With respect, I suggest that it is they who have missed the point. The fact that James I had relations with both men and women does not prove that he was a compulsive bisexual. It shows that he was self-indulgent, spoilt and hedonistic and could get away with it by virtue of being a king.

Earl Russell: Can the noble Lord tell me how he knows that?

Lord Monson: I do not know it, but suspect that, if he had not been a king but had been a serf or someone in those days of relatively low status, subject to the ecclesiastical and criminal law of the day, he could have controlled his urges, had he wished to. He did not need to because he was king.

I said that this was a probing amendment and that I was prepared to change my mind on the production of solid medical evidence to the contrary. I do not believe that we have had that solid medical evidence, despite what the noble Lord, Lord Rea, said. He did not give medical grounds for his assertion. Nevertheless, for the time being I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 2 agreed to.

Clauses 3 to 5 agreed to.

Clause 6 [Equal Pay Act 1970.]:

[Amendments Nos. 3 and 4 not moved.]

Clause 6 agreed to.

Lord Monson moved Amendment No. 5:

After Clause 6, insert the following new clause--

Armed forces

(" . Nothing in this Act applies to any person serving as a member of the naval, military or air forces of the Crown or to any person employed by an association established for the purposes of Part VI of the Reserve Forces Act 1980.").

The noble Lord said: When one considers the hours and hours spent arguing over race relations, sex discrimination and disability legislation, it is curious that the Committee is so thin tonight when we are discussing matters of great importance. I am the last

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person who should move the amendment since I did not serve in the Armed Forces and never rose above the rank of lance-corporal in the school cadet corps. However, no one else has added their name to the amendment, so it falls to me to move it.

I am happy totally to trust the judgment of senior officers who say, after careful consideration, that they do not want the existing homosexual ban in the Armed Forces removed. However, I wish to make two additional points. The main purpose of the Armed Forces is not to provide employment. If it were, the case for the ban might be a little weaker. That may seem self-evident, but I well remember watching the news at the time when the task force was being despatched to the Falklands. Angry mothers were being interviewed: "My boy did not join the Army to be shot at", exclaimed one, "he joined to learn a trade". Vigorous nods of assent came from half a dozen other mothers in the background.

The purpose of the Armed Forces is not to teach a trade but to defend this country in an increasingly dangerous age. The Japanese-American professor who claims that we have now reached the end of history and can look forward to 1,000 years of peace and prosperity is talking through his hat in my opinion.

The second point is this. We hear a lot from activist homosexuals and their supporters about the disappointment and sadness homosexuals feel about being excluded from the services. I do not doubt that that is the case. But there is another side to the story.

One Saturday afternoon last November I was driving down to Kent and switched on my car radio to find a phone-in taking place on the subject of homosexuals in the Armed Forces. The most impressive caller was an intelligent and articulate young woman who told the audience that she had always wanted to join the Navy since she was a very small girl. In due course she did so, progressed very well, obtained promotion and was extremely happy in her job. Unfortunately, she then encountered a lesbian superior officer who constantly made passes and tried to get her into bed, but who was astute enough to do that when there were no witnesses present. The girl was driven to distraction. She did not want to complain, partly because of reluctance to let the side down and partly because, in the absence of witnesses, she doubted whether she would be believed. In the end, in despair she resigned, her long-hoped-for naval career at an end.

I know it would remain an offence, were this Bill to go through unamended, for an officer to make a pass at a subordinate. But that sort of incident is bound to become more frequent if the ban disappears. I beg to move.

10.15 p.m.

Baroness Turner of Camden: I hope that the noble Lord will not feel that he has to press ahead with this amendment tonight. As I said at Second Reading, my Bill is essentially an employment Bill. It is intended to extend the provisions of the Sex Discrimination Act to give protection to homosexuals, lesbians and bisexuals. That legislation, anyway, excludes women in relation to

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combat duties. That presumably would apply here. Indeed, the relevant section of that Act states that nothing in the Act shall render unlawful an act done for the purpose of ensuring the combat effectiveness of the naval, military or air forces of the Crown. So it is quite likely that the MoD would anyhow argue that the ban was necessary to ensure combat effectiveness.

It would be quite premature to try to include in this Bill a reference to the Armed Forces. Among other things, an attempt is being made, I understand, in the House of Commons by means of an amendment to the Armed Forces Bill. Quite apart from that, a Commons Select Committee is considering the whole issue in relation to the Armed Forces. The House of Commons will have an opportunity of making a determination on this issue in relation to the Armed Forces and not in regard to a straightforward employment Bill. Therefore, I hope that this amendment will not be pressed tonight. Quite frankly, it would be pre-empting a discussion which anyhow is taking place in another place and on which, obviously, there is quite a lot of controversy. Clearly, the other place must have the opportunity of making a determination on this major issue.

Lord Henley: I am very interested in the noble Baroness's remarks in terms of her interpretation of previous Acts and the whole interpretation of this Bill as it stands. I will certainly look very carefully at what she had to say and consult those who advise me in these matters. As the noble Baroness knows, I have considerable sympathy for an amendment of this sort. Like the noble Baroness, I hope that the noble Lord will not press it today for the reasons that he gave earlier.

That said, as I made quite clear earlier, we do not see it as either desirable or necessary that this particular Bill should reach the statute book. But in relation to this amendment we have made our position absolutely clear on a number of occasions. We should certainly not want provisions of the kind that the noble Lord, Lord Monson, wishes to become part of the general law as the result of the passage of this Bill. It remains our view that homosexuality is incompatible with the special conditions of service life. I expanded on that point in some detail at Second Reading and I shall be more than happy to expand on it again at this stage, should other noble Lords wish me to do so. I shall not do so on this occasion but, if I am pressed, no doubt I shall come back to it.

Earl Russell: I am very happy to be able to agree with the noble Lord, Lord Monson, about something. I agree with what he said about the Japanese professor who thought that he had discovered the end of history. In fact, he is an American-Japanese professor. But I agree that he is talking through his hat. I might have tried to wrap that comment up a little more, but I shall not argue with calling a spade a spade.

Lord Henley: If I might interrupt my noble kinsman, it might do him out of a job if the end of history came about.

Earl Russell: There is plenty of work left to do in all kinds of fields, including this Chamber.

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Like the noble Lord, I am not a member of the Armed Forces. But my right honourable friend Mr. Ashdown, as is well known, was a member of the Armed Forces for quite a long time. In a speech at our party conference recently, he described how his life had been saved in battle by a gay officer who subsequently was excluded from the service because he was gay. At this time of night I am not about to start giving examples of gay people who have been extremely successful soldiers. It would be possible to keep the Chamber up all night. But there was a perfectly coherent line that in the past the Ministry of Defence could take. I agree with the line of the noble Baroness, Lady Turner; namely, that the matter is not to be settled by this Bill. But since the argument has been opened, both sides should be heard, even if only to be read in another place.

It was possible in an all male Army to argue that sex and duty did not mix. But it seems to me that the Army sold that pass as soon as it admitted women. I read in the newspaper today that in fact it is considering allowing women to take part in front-line combat. They are already allowed to sail in Royal Navy ships. It gives rise to a certain amount of trouble but I have not heard any suggestion that the trouble is insuperable.

The question is whether having homosexuals in the Armed Forces gives rise to more trouble than having men and women together in the Armed Forces. If the noble Lord's amendment is to be sustained, he has to have a reason for arguing that that is the case. I do not quite see what that reason might be. The noble Lord gave the example of a lesbian officer who kept making passes at another officer. I entirely agree with the way that he feels about that case. It was an abuse of power and should not have happened. But I am not convinced that homosexuals are in any way more given to making unwelcome advances and abusing their power in order to do so than are male heterosexuals. Were it to be proposed that male heterosexuals should be excluded from any part of the public service for that reason, I must declare an interest in the fact that I would resent such a proposal.

It seems to me that the line that we must draw is that what is an abuse is the abuse of power, the forcing of unwanted attentions, homosexual or heterosexual, and in particular the deployment of superior rank in order to do so. That is an offence whatever the sexual orientation of the one who does it and whichever sex does it. That is what we should concentrate on prohibiting.

If we were once clear as to what is the offence to which we object, we should have a better chance of creating a culture which does in fact prohibit it. I cannot see for certain anything arising through the presence of homosexuals which is on the level of the recent Tailhook Convention in the US. That resulted in the departure of an admiral from the service in circumstances in which I feel that his superiors in Washington were thinking more readily of a silver bullet than a golden handshake.

There is also the fear, regularly expressed, of living in close quarters with someone of a different sexual orientation. Again, the point stands that the culture of

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unwanted advances applies very much less here than it does when heterosexuals of the opposite sex are next-door. There is also a question, when one thinks about conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline, of exactly what is prejudicial to good order and discipline. I recall a former colleague--and every time I listened to the noble Baroness, Lady Faithfull, whom I much miss, I was reminded of her. A proposal was being discussed to get younger people into a university committee. The opposing argument was that the committee was too big. This lady said, "Yes, I sympathise with that argument. The committee is too big. Maybe some of the older people ought to come off it".

If we consider the question of good order and discipline, I wonder whether the prejudice to good order and discipline would arise from homosexuals who keep themselves to themselves or from those whose vigorous intolerance makes their life there so difficult. I read on the evening paper placards this morning that in the parallel case of intolerance of difference of race the Army intends to declare war on racism. I am glad to hear that. Why does it not do it here too?

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