I was pleased to be able to attend the event at Friends House celebrating 50 years since the publication of the landmark “Towards a Quaker View of Sex”. Described as one of the most forthright reports on sex and morals ever published by a religious body, the report insisted on the basic similarity of homosexual and heterosexual emotional and moral experience. It went on to be hugely influential, selling 500,000 copies.
While focusing most closely on homosexuality, which was then still three years away from being decriminalised, the publication also considered attitudes towards premarital sex and adultery. The book argued: ‘Surely it is the nature and quality of a relationship that matters; one must not judge by its outward appearance but by its inner worth … We see no reason why the physical nature of a sexual act should be the criterion by which the question whether or not it is moral should be decided. An act which expresses true affection between two individuals and gives pleasure to them both, does not seem to us to be sinful by reason alone of the fact that it is homosexual.’
In this Guardian article Keith Wedmore, the only survivor of the 11 Quaker authors and who spoke at the event, described it as the greatest achievement of his life. He should be justly proud for bringing these important issues into the modern egalitarian perspective that they deserved.