Where Scots Lag…

Scotland “lags behind” England as far as homosexual legislation is concerned, a Glasgow psychiatrist told a one-day conference on homosexuality in Edinburgh yesterday.

Dr Keith Wardrop, Director of the Forensic Psychiatric Clinic, Glasgow, told the conference, organised by the SMG, that the attitudes among certain sections of the public towards homosexuals led to such things as drug-taking – particularly among young people.

Scottish Sunday Express, Glasgow.

SMG held a one-day conference on Homosexuality in Edinburgh, ft received the above report in the Scottish press. We received the following report from Joan Aitken.

SMG CONFERENCE

19720901-04One of the enormous tasks facing the gay movement is that of educating the rest of the world to the effect that gay is not bad or sick or corrupting. That is, to reverse the whole situation of gay people. For this reason SMG decided at their last AGM to hold annual (at least) conferences on homosexuality and to encourage the public to come along.

The first of these was held in Heriot Watt University on Saturday August 5th – the title of which was “Homosexuality – is it a problem?” In going along to any conference one tends to have doubts about the whole structure and almost to have headaches in anticipation. But I got a pleasant surprise – I can only say this was the best conference I have ever attended.

In the morning the question was discussed by four speakers – Anthony Grey, Michael Steed (Tres. CHE), Dr Keith Wardrop (Dir Forensic Psychiatric Clinic – Glasgow) and Sharon Murray (NE Womens Group). In the afternoon we broke into discussion groups. The conference ended with a forum.

I found the discussion on the female homosexual (did I notice a certain reluctance to use the word lesbian?) interesting in that it reflected how much homosexuals or any oppressed minority does tend to load itself with problems. There is an element of paranoia and thus some of the problems for the homosexual are self-created. I felt that Sharon Murray did present an example of this when she failed to realise that many of the problems of the lesbian are problems for the heterosexual as well. She was right, though, to get angry when Mr Wardrop suggested that life was easier for the female. There was some discussion between the speakers and the floor as to who had the roughest time – the male or the female. My own view is that it is an irrelevant question and to pose it is to indulge in the self-pity and egotism that Anthony Grey had attacked earlier in his talk.

The consent of the oppressed as a mechanism in the process of oppression was discussed by Michael Steed in an interesting talk where he scientifically looked at attitudes to homosexuality. He quoted the results of National Opinion Polls on whether homosexuals should be able to make love freely in private and on whether homosexuals needed treatment. The latter reported that 93% thought that such was the case.

This point about attitudes came up again in the discussion on why the Homosexual Law Reform Act did not apply in Scotland. David Steel, MP proved a most willing and interesting speaker and explained attitudes to homosexuality were at the time of the act less ‘enlightened’ than the English. However since 1967 the Church of Scotland, still very influential in deciding Scottish public opinion, has eased its attitudes and there has recently been much correspondence in the ‘Scotsman’ on the subject of homosexuality. The reliance on common law in Scotland to safeguard the position of the homosexual can no longer be trusted, especially after the recent House of Lords decision in the IT case, and recent local prosecutions.

But a lot of myths have to be waded through yet and how many differences there are on large issues and how much pain has to be disentangled to reach rational attitudes. The conference was good in that everyone relaxed together and the discussion was calm and sympathetic. It felt as if a breath of fresh air

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