Practical exercise (12.3.2)

Legal positivism

Practical exercise 12.3.2: Legal positivism

Look up the case of Knuller v DPP [1973] AC 435 (HL). This case involved a magazine which contained advertisements for readers to meet up and engage in homosexual practices. The appellants were convicted on counts of conspiracy to corrupt public morals and conspiracy to outrage public decency.

  1. What was the outcome in the case?

The defendant published a gay contact magazine thereby conspiring to corrupt public morals. The defendants were convicted.

  1. Do you think that gay dating advertisements are immoral?

This is a matter of personal opinion—what do you think? What might others say that disagree with you?

  1. To what extent have attitudes to gay dating changed since 1973?

The attitude of both the law and society towards homosexual relationships has certainly changed since 1973 such that there is a greater level of acceptance than there was forty years ago.

  1. How do you think this case would be/should be decided today?

Again, this is for you to decide: but given the social changes over time, it seems unfeasible that a gay dating magazine would be considered by the courts to represent a corruption of public morals.

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