British prime minister Tony Blair's government on Tuesday proposed an overhaul of the U.K.'s Victorian-era sex offense laws, urging parliament to repeal remaining laws against gay male sex. "The law on sexual offenses is archaic and incoherent," home secretary David Blunkett told the House of Commons, saying that the last remaining major sex offense act, passed 46 years ago, is primarily a consolidation of 19th-century law.
The government has proposed getting rid of the offenses of sodomy, solicitation by men, and gross indecency--the crime of which Irish-born writer Oscar Wilde was convicted in the 1890s, a scandal that ruined him. "Criminalizing acts between homosexuals that are not against the law for heterosexuals goes against the principle of equality," Blunkett said. The process of repealing those laws in the United Kingdom began in 1967, and Sacha Deshmukh of the gay rights group Stonewall said that Blunkett's proposals would complete that process. "The changes are long overdue," Deshmukh said.