London: Britain’s Royal Air Force used to discourage recruitment of bisexual officials and forced suspected lesbians to undergo a medical treatment to ‘cure’ their ‘perversions,’ reveals newly declassified documents.
A 1950s briefing paper for the officials revealed how in the past commanders were told to be alert to airwomen who played cricket or hockey, or spent a lot of time writing letters or telephoning to female comrades, seen as possible signs of attraction to other women.
According to the Daily Mail, a paper entitled ‘A Special Problem’, stated that no one can really help another person to steer clear of the dangers of homosexuality unless she herself believes it morally wrong and has a definite notion why.
The bisexuals in the Women’s Royal Air Force (WARF) were considered mentally ill and told to undergo psychological treatment.
“For the unfortunate persons suffering from deeper abnormality psychological treatment is very often helpful. But remember it can only be useful if the patient has sufficient insight to wish to be cured,” the paper added.
Also, WRAF officers were discouraged from recruiting females with ‘masculine characteristics’ and who ‘tend to become a focus of undesirable attention from other women’.
“It is undoubtedly better that women of this type should not be recruited into a service,” said a memo.
The WRAF kept an ‘observation list’ of females suspected of having lesbian tendencies, revealed documents.
The file in which the documents are held at London’s National Archives has the title ‘Perverts’ which appears to be the semi-official title assigned to it by civil servants.
First Published: Saturday, April 16, 2011, 14:26