It has been revealed that former British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, briefly considered banning sex toys in the UK in the mid-1980s.
The revelation comes following the annual release of documents from the UK’s National Archive. They say that the change was considered after moral crusaders lobbied the Prime Minister, including Mary Whitehouse, whom Thatcher met on two occasions.
In September 1986, the then Home Secretary, Leon Brittan, wrote to Prime Minister Thatcher saying that there was a ‘strong case’ for banning sex toys under obscenity laws.
‘Some of the items in circulation are most objectionable, including some which can cause physical injury.’
Brittan thought that sex toys, under the terms of the 1959 Obscene Publications Act, could be viewed as items likely to ‘deprave and corrupt’.
However, following her meetings with Whitehouse – a prominent anti-obscenity campaigner – Thatcher, who served as Prime Minister between 1979-1990, instructed Brittan to look at a new way in which they could be barred, more specifically in relation to how they could be considered to offend good taste or public decency.
Brittan felt that asking court’s to make rulings in regard to ‘good taste’ could be fraught with ambiguity. The plans were subsequently abandoned.
Margaret Thatcher, who died in 2013, was one of only a few Conservative MPs who voted to decriminalize homosexuality in the late 1960s.
However, in relation to LGBT rights, she is better remembered as presiding over the introduction of Section 28 in 1988 – legislation that prohibited the ‘promotion’ of homosexuality by local authorities in the UK. Tony Blair’s Labour government finally repealed section 28 in 2003.