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New rainbow plaque unveiled commemorating when Oscar Wilde was a victim of homophobic abuse in 1895

The plaque was unveiled at Clapham Junction Station as part of the Rainbow Plaque national scheme

2019-07-24

Words: Steve Brown

A new plaque has been unveiled in Clapham Junction Station commemorating when celebrated playwright Oscar Wilde was a victim of homophobic abuse in that very spot back in 1895.

After being sentenced to two-years hard labour following his conviction for ‘gross indecency with men’, Wilde was forced to stand, handcuffed and in convict dress on the centre of the platform between 2pm and 2.30pm on November 20, 1895.

As people began to recognise him, Wilde – who is best known for writing The Picture of Dorian Gray – was subjected to jeering, spitting and abuse from the gathering crowds around him.

According to Wandsworth LGBTQ+ Forum – who helped commission the plaque along with Network Rail and Studio Voltaire – Wilde was so humiliated and traumatised that he began to weep.

The rainbow plaque was unveiled as part of the Rainbow Plaque national scheme that identifies key moments and figures of LGBTQ+ history.