50 years ago - A day to remember

On this day 50 years ago, not long after dawn, the House of Commons passed the Bill to partially decriminalise sex between consenting men in England. It became law (The Sexual Offences Act) at the end of July 1967. The work continues to ensure that individual people and families have rights which are respected. Through our individual work, collective support and influencing, we are a part of that change. This account of our support provides an example of the difference which we can and do make in people’s lives.  

Houses of parliament, against a rainbow backdrop, with the number 50 in large lettersAlfred, a tailor by profession and keen gardener, fell in love and set up home with George in 1963. Since then they have remained living together in that same home.

Six months ago, at the age of 95, Alfred’s declining physical health led to increasing care being brought into his own home. This rapidly increased to 24 hour support. On the most recent review of his care package, Alfred’s Local Authority pressed for him to move into residential care in view of the very high cost of his home care package. Though clear about his views, Alfred had little insight into his care needs or the implications of these, whilst George found meetings to discuss the future too upsetting to participate in. A referral was made to VoiceAbility’s IMCA service.

In discussions with his IMCA, Alfred was adamant that he should remain living with George in the home that they had shared for half a century.  Consulting widely the IMCA found there to be support amongst his GP, support workers and, importantly, from George for his views.

Understanding the Local Authority’s anxiety about the high cost of the care package, Alfred’s IMCA’s report made clear Alfred’s view. She also emphasised Alfred’s Article 8 rights to family and private life and the major risks of moving an elderly frail man against his wishes. Our IMCA advised that an authorisation would almost certainly be required under the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) for Alfred to be moved against his will. She emphasised the Council’s own DoLS lead’s advice that authorisation was unlikely to be granted. Whilst not accepting that financial considerations could lawfully override Alfred’s best wishes, our IMCA also made clear that Alfred’s support needs, even in a residential environment would cost more to meet than the Council had anticipated. Finally, she made clear that she would formally challenge any decision that he was moved, including by opposing a DoLS.

The force of Alfred’s IMCA’s representations was accepted. Alfred and George remain living and supported in their own home. 

The state failed to rob Alfred and George of their liberty, autonomy or dignity in 1963, when their relationship was unlawful. Over fifty years later, this time with the support of Alfred’s IMCA, Alfred and George had to fight again for their life together and for their rights. Again they should never have had to do this. Again they succeeded.  

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