private morality

  

Definition

An individual's private conduct which is not a governmental or societal concern, and should be free from intrusion. In comparison, public morality refers to the conduct that affects other individuals or the larger society, and which should be governed by externally imposed laws. This schism in what was once an undivided realm of morality was created in 1957 upon the publication in UK of the 'Report Of The Committee On Homosexual Offenses And Prostitution' (called Wolfenden report after the committee's chairperson, Sir John Wolfenden). It advocated repeal of the statutes prohibiting consensual homosexual relations in private, because "it is not the duty of the law to concern itself with immorality as such." In effect, the report suggests that what might be wrong in public might be right in private, and may be indulged in without the fear of sanction. In the continuing follow-up debate, one camp argues the society can override the matters of private judgment where they threaten its survival, and homosexuality is such a threat. The other argues that while social-cohesiveness must be protected, moral pluralism does not constitute a threat and (in absence of empirical evidence to the contrary) the law has no business in interfering in matters of private morality.

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