THE BUGGERY ACT
The Buggery Act was adopted in England in 1533 during the reign of Henry VIII, and was the first legislation against homosexuals in the country. It was also one of the first anti-sodomy laws passed by any Germanic country. All Germanic codes up to this time ignored all sexual activities except adultery. The Buggery Act was piloted through Parliament by Thomas Cromwell. The Act made buggery with man or beast punishable by hanging, a penalty not finally lifted until 1861. Some have suggested that bestiality was specifically included because of the fear of hybrid births.
It is sometimes suggested that the Act was introduced as a measure against the clergy, since the Act was introduced following the separation of the Church of England from Rome, though there seems to be no firm evidence for this. The Act itself only states that there was no "sufficient and condigne punyshment" for such acts.
Contravention of the Act, along with treason, led Walter Hungerford, 1st Baron Hungerford of Heytesbury, to become the first person executed under the statute in Jul 1540, though it was probably the treason that cost him his life. Nicholas Udall, a cleric, playwright, and Headmaster of Eton College, was the first to be charged for violation of the Act alone, in 1541. In his case the sentence was commuted to imprisonment, and he was released in less than a year.
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