BELFAST: Students lobbying for law reform to make gay sex legal in Northern Ireland have been denied official recognition by Queen’s University Academic Council, because of possible legal repercussions.
The Gay Liberation Society which has been active on the university campus for the last year, exists to fight social prejudice against homosexuals and to lobby for a change in the laws of 1885 and 1861, which still apply in the province, as the 1967 Sexual Offences Act applied only to England and Wales.
Equality With England
The Gay Liberation Society wants equality with English gays. It points out that the law in its present state in Northern Ireland – and Scotland for that matter – exposed homosexuals to blackmail and legal harrassment for actions which were their own affair.
The university’s academic council turned the society’s plea for official recognition down flat and said the society would have to get legal advice before reapplying for recognition.
Meanwhile the society was going ahead with its plans to stage a ‘gay play’ at the university.
The play, Find Your Own Way Home, by television playwright John Hopkins, was to be staged jointly by the Gay Liberation Society and the university’s dramatic society.
Belfast’s Sunday News called it “the most sexually explicit (play) ever to be staged in the Province.”
Deep Blue Air
The play deals with the break-up of a marriage when the husband leaves to live with his gay lover.
The Sunday News confided: “Its language turns the air a very deep blue…
“But director Gwen Williams, a graduate in English, is not worried about possible protests.
“The play is a serious exploration of homosexual relationships,” she said, “and though the language is very strong, I think it’s justified.
“It was obviously written to combat prejudice against homosexuals, hence the cooperation of Gay Lib. Homosexuals are still hampered in Ulster by outdated social attitudes and by legislation, but I think Ulster people are mature enough to take this type of play, If protesters try to stop the production we shall make it into a club performance.”
Enthusiastic About Role
Arts student Andrew Hinds plays the husband’s lover, Julian, and he’s enthusiastic about this role, during which he has his shirt ripped off him by another of the play’s gay characters.
In one scene he describes his casual sex encounters in parks and cottages using what the Sunday News was moved to call ‘X certificate terms’.
Andrew said: “In the play, the husband leaves his wife, Jackie, for me. She thinks he’s left her for another woman when she finds letters to him signed ‘Julie’. It is only when she meets me that she realises that ‘Julie’ is, in fact a man called Julian. When that strikes home she is physically sick on stage.
But Andrew does not object to the ‘bad language’ in the play. “It’s about time this kind of language, which all young people use, got on to the stage; and realism would have suffered if it had been omitted.