Brian Rush

The Flirtation

There’s a myth that when Parliament passed a law criminalizing homosexuality during the reign of Queen Victoria, she refused to sign the bill until references to lesbianism had been removed from it, stating “women wouldn’t do such things.”

The story is untrue about the queen (for one thing, by Victoria’s time the monarch’s power to veto acts of Parliament was already an on-paper power that was never, never used), but it’s true that the Labouchere Amendment of 1885 outlawed only male homosexuality. Exactly why that is so is unknown, but it seems that the idea of outlawing lesbianism never crossed Labouchere’s mind. Some speculate that Parliament kept silence on female gay sex to avoid drawing women’s attention to the possibility.

Be that as it may — whether in Victorian times or modern times, we have taboos surrounding sexual behavior. They aren’t the same taboos in all cases or in all times, but…

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