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Abstracts: Ethics, History and Mental Disorder

Peter Bartlett (University of Nottingham)
Medicalising Murder: Psychiatric Evidence and Homicides of Gay Men, 1976-2000


This paper will draw on my research into the records of the Crown Prosecution Service dealing with trials of persons who kill gay men, 1976-2000. The paper will argue that there has been a trend toward increasing medicalisation of killers of gay men in court. This medicalisation continues medical themes relating to masculinity and sexual orientation based in the first half of the twentieth century. The context of these developments includes changes to the structure of legal defenses, but also changes in perceived status of medical expertise in court. This latter matter is of particular interest, as the increased interest in medical testimony does not appear to be reflected in increased credibility of the medical expert witness.