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The official treatment of white, South African, homosexual men and the consequent reaction of gay liberation from the 1960s to 2000.

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dc.contributor.author Sinclair, Rebecca
dc.date.accessioned 2007-12-06T07:58:28Z
dc.date.available 2007-12-06T07:58:28Z
dc.date.issued 2007-12-06T07:58:28Z
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10210/163
dc.description.abstract This dissertation is the product of research into white, South African masculinities. It is concerned with the official treatment of white, gay men in this country by the governments of the day from the 1960s to 2000 and the government’s control of hegemonic masculinity in order to maintain power. By looking at gay masculinities the threat to hegemonic masculinity was ascertained as well as the different versions of heterosexual masculinities. This thesis also analyses the degree of change in the toleration or acceptance of white homosexuality in South Africa from churches, society, and elements within the SAP and the SADF as well as within gay organisations. Legislative achievements in the Constitutional Court show the most extreme changes in the perceptions of gay masculinities. This dissertation primarily begins in the 1960s, looking at why it was necessary to set up the 1968 Select Committee. This committee investigated criminalising all male homosexual acts, including those in private and also aimed to dictate societal norms and maintain white, privileged, hegemonic masculinity established and defined by the NP government. The state had always repressed homosexuality through law; even colonial legislation proved this. It was the creation and maintenance of hegemonic masculinity that advocated such legislation. 1966 was the focal year where white homosexuality became a recognisable problem. A gay party was held at a Johannesburg residence, which made white homosexuality visible and alerted the police to this alternative masculinity. The Select Committee, however, did not fulfil its initial aims. Once elements within the SAP were faced with the visibility of white homosexuality, their power thereby being challenged, Major van Zyl set about requesting stricter legislation by proposing amendments to the Minister of Justice regarding the 1957 Immorality Act and submitting evidence to the Select Committee. However, numerous submissions to and interviews by the Select Committee proved that it was unnecessary and illogical to criminalise private homosexuality. Such submissions showed white homosexuality was no societal threat and that some in white society recognised gay masculinities and challenged hegemonic masculinity. Consequently the Select Committee did not propose stricter legislation regarding homosexuality. Furthermore, repressive official treatment of white, male homosexuals was evident in the SADF in the 1970 and 1980s. Through a military perception of masculinity, that is, aggressive masculinity, most in the SADF were intent on conforming its white soldiers to the traditional definition of masculinity, the NP government’s definition of white masculinity, which did not include homosexual men. Dr Levine used electro-shock therapy to ‘cure’ gay conscripts at 1 Military Hospital. This extreme practice of ensuring conformity was no longer utilised by the 1980s and there was also some unofficial acceptance of white homosexuality within the SADF by some white commanders and soldiers. There was no gay liberation movement to speak of until the 1980s. GASA, a white gay organisation, led the movement but it was to be unsuccessful in that it supported the NP government, that is, it benefited from hegemonic masculinity because GASA’s membership was predominantly white men. Because of this GASA was seen to support the government’s policy of apartheid and there ensued the consequent debate between gay essentialism and gay rights as part of the broader struggle. GASA was purely reactionary, because in effect it did not really want change and was therefore ineffective. The gay movement grew but it did not unify. This failure to unify meant the gay liberation movement, as a movement had failed, even though, later, liberation and much change was achieved, mainly through the work of the NCGLE. Like the 1968 Select Committee, the President’s Council was set up in 1985 to once again investigate stricter penalties against homosexuality. The ANC was still very quiet on the issue of gay rights, supporting heterosexist hegemony and not recognising gay masculinities. The President’s Council did not recommend stricter legislation against homosexual men but the 1988 Sexual Offences Act retained the penalties against homosexuality as stipulated by the 1969 Immorality Amendment Act. Gay essentialism damaged any headway regarding gay rights, especially when it came to gaining the support of progressive organisation in the broader political struggle because there was so much in-fighting regarding defining gay masculinities. Race could not be discounted in this equation and the RGO, a black gay organisation, challenged GASA’s support of the NP government. New gay organisations only contributed to the failure of the gay liberation movement because again there was no unity. In 1989 Albie Sachs of the ANC met with a liberal gay organisation, OGLA, and finally gay rights were beginning to be taken seriously, culminating in the protection of gay rights in the 1996 Constitution. This was due to individual members of the ANC and Kevan Botha, the lawyer hired by the NCGLE to represent gay rights at CODESA. Once sexual orientation was retained in the equality clause of the Constitution it was left to the NCGLE to fight for the legal practice of equality for gay men and lesbians. There was also greater toleration and even acceptance of homosexuality by the South African society at large, both black and white, the churches, and the SAP, especially officially. Hence, although the gay liberation movement had failed, gay rights had been entrenched and change allowed for potential equality, the last of which would be legal gay marriage, which remains to be seen. en
dc.description.sponsorship Prof. L. Grundlingh en
dc.language.iso en en
dc.subject South Africa en
dc.subject gay liberation movement en
dc.subject gay rights en
dc.subject gays en
dc.subject government policy en
dc.title The official treatment of white, South African, homosexual men and the consequent reaction of gay liberation from the 1960s to 2000. en
dc.type Thesis en

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