The operation of the British model of imperialism was never consistent, seldom coherent, and far from comprehensive. Purity campaigns, controversies about the age of consent, the regulation of prostitution and passage and repeal of contagious diseases laws, as well as a new legislative awareness of homosexuality, were all part of the sexual currency of the late Victorian age. Colonial governments, institutions and companies recognised that in many ways the effective operation of the Empire depended upon sexual arrangements. They devised elaborate systems of sexual governance, but also devoted disproportionate energy to marking and policing the sexual margins. This book not only investigates controversies surrounding prostitution, homosexuality and the age of consent in the British Empire, but also revolutionises people's notions about the importance of sex as a nexus of imperial power relations. The derivative hypothesis, which reads colonial sexuality politics as something England did or gave to its colonies, is illustrated and made explicit by the Indian Spectator, which seemed simply to accept that India should follow English precedent. In 1885, the South Australian parliament passed legislation, similar to England's Criminal Law Amendment Act, which raised the age of consent from 13 to 16 and introduced a series of restrictions and regulations on sexual conduct. Richard Francis Burton's case against the moral universalism and sex between men are discussed. 'Cognitively mapping' sexuality politics, the book has traced connections between people, places and politics, exploring both their dangers and opportunities, which revolve in each case around embroilments in global power.
Australian activists on the age of consent and prostitution
the mother country the same year. I argue, however, that the colony did not simply follow
England, nor could it have done so, for the successful passage of this legislation depended
in both places on high levels of public interest and political momentum. South Australian
legislation on social purity was not simply an imperial imposition or an action of colonial
deference. When Kirby campaigned
for an increase in the age of consent, he did so actively and with some autonomy.
In 1885 the SouthAustralianparliament passed
, SouthAustralianParliament-ary Paper, Report . . . on
the Boy Migrant Scheme , 1924.
Commonwealth of Australia Parliamentary Papers,
Migrants – Medical Examination in England , 2,
An early expression of such concerns may be
, reflecting upon these events a year later
during the debates over women’s suffrage in the SouthAustralianparliament, one Member argued that at Broken Hill the ‘women got
much more excited and acted with more violence than the men
did’. 85 In
1909 there is photographic evidence that women were also among the
pickets. 86 And they
sang. This is not an isolated