for the love of one's countrymen!

Headline of the day:

British navy 'bursting with gay seamen in 1960'

[London, October 31] - A strict enforcement of the Royal Navy's policy of banning homosexuality would have rendered the fleet ineffective in the 1960s, according to Britain's Public Records Office.

"Senior naval officers have warned me that about 50 percent of the fleet have sinned homosexually," the navy's senior legal officer wrote in the reports. He wryly remarked that it was "only the paucity of the director of naval security's investigating resources that prevents paying off a good many ships".
[This comes from a South African news site, and thanks to Otto.]

But there's much more in these just-released naval papers to amuse and delight us sophisticates of the twenty-first century (after all of the hurt produced in the last one). The BBC delights in the story, of course.

One sailor reportedly picked up a prostitute who he believed to be female. Realising he wasn't who she appeared to be, the sailor reportedly declared: "Blimey, you're all there!" Nevertheless, he apparently became "infatuated".

This kind of incident led admirals to argue that most of the men accused were only inadvertently homosexual, rather than dangerous "perverts".

In London, the head of the Western Fleet in London wrote to all commanders,
"I have a strong [belief] that many of the men are not perverts but basically normal men whose standards of behaviour are thoroughly lax."
The then head of naval law, quoted in the South African site's story at the top, seems to have had a fairly reasonable attitude about the imagined threat to national security.
While the policy of discharging offenders involved in public acts of indecency in front of "hand-clapping audiences" was valid, there should be more flexibility in the rules, he argued.
In Britain, the ban on homosexuals serving in the armed forces was lifted in January 2000 after a protracted human rights battle, but unfortunately even the "more flexibility" of the Royal Navy 1960s is still alien in the benighted precincts of the U.S.

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Published on November 1, 2002 10:29 AM.

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