Half a Loaf – Or Only a Nibble

Offered at the House of Commons

04-197208XX 03Speaking of anomalies and loopholes in legislation at a meeting called to consider the implications of the recent House of Lords’ decision in the International Times case, Bernard Levin said: “The only thing worth doing is to pass a small simple act… to improve the situation for some people… not to talk of ideal and perfect societies. Half a loaf is better than none”. Will Hamlyn, MP set up the meeting to discuss how parliamentary means could be used to improve the situation, but a GLF member commented: “All Mr. Levin is really offering us is a small nibble”.

Many of those present seemed to feel that traditional democratic processes could achieve very little, particularly, as Raymond Fletcher pointed out: “…it now seems to be the judges who make the law, not Parliament”. “I voted, as I thought, in the interests of a minority when I supported the 1967 act,” said Joan Lestor, MP, “and now I find that, under that act, such things as contact through advertisements can be made illegal.” The heart of the matter is section 8 of the 1967 Act, under which the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions is not required if the charge is incitement – incitement, in the case of contact ads, to commit acts which are not in themselves illegal if both parties are over 21. Leo Abse, MP, said at the time that he “was not happy” on this point: “Police use of incitement charges may well be open to criticism”. They were certainly criticised at the meeting, as was police activity in other areas, including harassment and spying in connection with cottaging, and selective prosecution under the obscenity laws.

The conspiracy laws were also criticised for their many loopholes – there have been contradictory decisions, some seeming to indicate that if a jury can be convinced by the prosecution that something is ‘immoral’, or a ‘conspiracy to corrupt public morals’, other relevant cases and precedents can be ignored. Bernard Levin said that it was a problem of singling out some actions and excluding them from the conspiracy laws, and that legislation should be attempted which would prevent such decisions as that in the IT case, and also define ‘conspiracy’ much more closely.

Does the present state of the law mean, for instance that a social worker who runs a group, or a counsellor who puts a homosexual client in touch with a gay organisation, is ‘inciting’ people to commit immoral acts? “Phew”, said Michael Butler of the Samaritans, when asked to comment later, “that would make the job of counselling gay people almost impossible. A psychiatrist told me that he could interview and analyse his patients, but if they had no social contacts with their own kind, his job was totally lop-sided and inadequate. The Samaritans’ general policy is that if someone wants social contacts and the counsellor feels it would be useful, the branch should have addresses of groups to which the client can be referred, and he would be given them.”

Other points raised during the meeting itself included the problem of judges who are “out of touch”, particularly with young people, and the general need for “public education”, considered in the long term, to produce a climate of opinion in which legislative improvements could be introduced by sympathetic members of parliament. The need for more control over police activity was stressed, particularly by Bernard Greaves, who quoted evidence of malpractices by Cambridge police, and by the editor of ‘Janus’, who was concerned about police victimisation of some publishers, while others were untouched

Some speakers were unsure that parliamentary action could really achieve anything of value, and felt that “the gay world is moving towards a violent stand, like that now happening in N. Ireland”, and that there was an increasing tendency for homosexuals to come together and not to rely on others to speak for them. “Gay people should live their lives openly, and that will help to change society at the grassroots”.

While some people present apparently endorsed this view, it was felt by others that in trying to improve the present situation, less ideal methods were essential, such as contact ads. and Denis Lemon of Gay News confirmed the paper’s intention to continue running ads. Antony Gray of NFHO said that in his view, advertisements were a comparatively ‘trivial’ issue, and that he felt that increased activity in parliament could really lead to improvements – By the law of averages, he calculated, there must be 30 gay MPs, so “Where are they?” Will Hamlyn, closing the meeting, felt that this might be an under-estimate, but that legislative improvements would, at best, be slow to come, and that there was a lot more to be achieved by individuals coming together and taking action at all levels.

Perhaps one comment on the meeting is “Never mind your half-a-loaf, Mr. Levin – we are going to make our own bread”.

I am Not a Woman

04-197208XX 03After a happy ending to a court appeal, a serving soldier, James Heath, aged 22, whose home is in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, now has to face a Court Martial for allegedly committing ‘unnatural practices’ with 27 year old Carlos D’Almeida. As the law stands at present it is still an offence for a member of H.M. Armed Forces to have anything but strict heterosexual relationships (thus explaining the Armed Forces encouragement of serving men to take full advantage of female prostitutes in the area in which they are stationed). These regulations are stringently enforced in the ranks, although many attachments between officers are generally tolerated if the parties involved are discreet enough about it.

The seemingly happy ending occurred at Aylesbury Crown Court where Carlos D’Almeida appealed successfully against a deportation order, recommended by High Wycombe magistrates on June 7, six months after he was refused entry to this country from Singapore.

The story really begins in Singapore in the June of last year, where James Heath was stationed with the Army. He was introduced to Carlos one evening as a woman and to continue in James’s own words: “We met in a discotheque, and during the evening Mr. D’Almeida told me: ‘I am sorry. I am not all I appear to be.’ I laughed, thinking that it was a normal woman’s reply meaning that she was not an easy pick-up. I was still laughing and then he said: ‘I am not a woman.’

In court James went on to say that they lived together for six months in Singapore, and this year he introduced Carlos to his parents as his fiancée. “We were hoping to get married,” he added.

According to the London Evening Standard, Carlos has now ‘won the chance to discover whether he is a man or a woman after a soldier revealed his affection for him.’ Unfortunately for the couple, the Army has now stepped in and their private lives face further interference and unhappiness because of James’s court martial.

The whole case is now sub judice and apparently The Sun newspaper is being sued by one of the parties involved. Knowing the treatment given to similar ‘delicate’ subjects by that paper, it is not surprising that this should be happening to them.

We of Gay News are not quite sure at this stage of the proceedings what possible help we might be able to give James and Carlos, but we certainly wish them well and hope that they will eventually have a lasting ‘happy ending’ together.

Preaching to the inverted

04-197208XX 03The Rev. Troy Perry, founder of the Metropolitan Community Church, Los Angeles (largest gay Christian group in the USA), will be in London for a week from September 20th. Dates include an open meeting on Friday September 22nd at Holborn Assembly Hall, 7.30 for 8.00pm (Small admission charge at door to cover cost of hall). Watch this space for further happenings, including plans to publish Troy’s autobiography in Britain: ‘The Lord Is My Shepherd And He Knows I’m Gay’.

“You’re no Trouble, it’s Just these Kids with Nothing To Do”

04-197208XX 03London Gay Lib’s last dance before the summer break was held at Fulham Town Hall on July 28. There were no arrests, no scenes in the street, and only one small incident inside the hall, when a small group of youths tried to walk in without tickets at about 10.45 pm.

Organisers and management staff reasoned with the ring-leaders, who seemed ready to back down, until one of them lost his temper and pushed a Gay Lib steward. A brief but vicious fight took place between this youth and a roadie from one of the groups, who seemed ready to use more force than the situation demanded. No gays were involved, and they were quickly separated.

The group of youths was escorted out by hall staff, and the management called the police, but this action was nothing to do with the dance organisers. “We wouldn’t call the police” said a GLF steward. “We don’t want anything to do with them.”

“You people are no trouble at all,” commented a member of the staff. “You just want to enjoy yourselves. It’s just these kids with nothing to do. They think they’re being big.”

Gay News asked if other dances attracted similar trouble. “Only the coloured people we used to have here. They had fights among themselves, which you don’t have, and the local yobs used to come round outside. Of course, we had to ban the coloured dances in the end. It would be a shame if that happened to you lot.”

The 300 gays at the dance on Friday would agree, especially as the music and atmosphere were considered by many “the best for a long time”.

Small groups of teenagers were hanging about on the corners and outside Fulham Broadway station at 11.30 pm, but were not to be seen when everyone left promptly at 12.00 pm. There was no trouble, although a panda car and a black maria were well in evidence.

The next dance is scheduled for September 1, at Fulham – let’s hope that the apparently improved situation will be maintained.

The Gay Murder?

03-197207XX-03On Friday 8 July the body of a young man was discovered in a flooded gravel pit near Colnbrook, Buckinghamshire.

Frogmen on a routine training session discovered the body of twentythree year old Paul Duval lying face-down in the bushes.

A post mortem revealed that Paul had been murdered late Thursday evening and had died due to multiple injuries inflicted by a knife to the heart and chest area.

One theory currently being investigated by police is that Paul was murdered for rebuking another man’s sexual advances.

The National press and local Radio have repeatedly reported over the last 12 days that the area where the body was found is a popular gay meeting place, a sort of miniature Hampstead Heath.

A local police spokesman, who has been attached to Slough Police Station for the last ten years, said that the area, to the best of his knowledge, was only frequented by ‘fishermen’ at night time. Furthermore, any reports in the national press stating this area to be frequented by homosexuals was complete and utter fabrication acting only as a cheap booster to the reportage of that particular national newspaper.

The Evening News and the Evening Standard have both over the last week stated categorically and supported by their police spokesman, that the Colnbrook area is crawling with homosexuals at night time. ‘These views” said our spokesman, “are completely unfounded and would not be supported by any officer attached to this station.”

Gay Oppression in South London

03-197207XX-03The G.L.F. commune in Brixton has been forced to leave for quieter shores, after having been under seige by the local kids from Tulse Hill Comprehensive. The communards made no attempt to hide who or what they are, and as a result suffered considerable persecution. Some were attacked individually (one guy had a milk bottle smashed over his head), but the house was attacked almost nightly; bricks and bottles were thrown through windows, and on one occasion a fight began when a group of boys broke down the front door and tried to get in. Chief Inspector Peter Brooks, community liason officer at Brixton Police Station, said “We are aware of the situation at the school and are keeping an eye on it”.

Since the trouble had come from the school-children, it seemed logical to go and talk to them. However, the communards were not well received when they attempted to leaflet during the lunch break, and the headmaster called the police to remove them. “I have had no formal complaints about any attacks by boys. Our objective (in calling the police) was to get these people away from the boys and off the school premises. If they want to discuss the situation formally I shall be happy to consider doing so but I will not be put under any duress by demonstrations of this sort.” said the headmaster. Does nothing happen at that school until it is ‘formally’ noted?

With little help from either the local community of the police, the situation did not improve, and the commune was eventually asked to move out by the agents from whom they were renting the house because of the continued damage and disturbance. One boy was suspended from the school for assisting them to leaflet there. And so the commune is now in temporary quarters in Notting Hill. There seems to have been little else left to do, but it seems appalling that a group of gay people should have to face such hostility alone.

If they had been a black family then there a at least have been some protection from the law to assist them in combatting the violent prejudices of the local inhabitants. As it is, gay people must either hide away in ‘safe’ areas or masquerade as straight if they wish to be left in peace. The attempt to set up an openly fay commune in an area like Brixton and the reactions to it prove we still have a long way to go before we are accepted.

The Scotsman And The Minister

03-197207XX-04Extracts from letters written to “The Scotsman” after the I.T. decision and subsequent furore by Rev. Malcolm H. MacRae, West Free Manse, 21 Mount Vernon Avenue. Coatbridge. Together with our reactions.

“… it is impossible for the homosexual to find real happiness while following his inclinations in a heterosexual society.”

“There is no such thing as a heterosexual society. There is such a thing as a heterosexually dominated society. Homosexuals have always existed, even in the animal world, and always will. They have greatly contributed to all known western societies.”

“Physiologically and psychologically his behaviour is so unnatural that it is doubtful if even in a homosexual preserve … a satisfying way of life could be achieved. I would have thought, then, that the most compassionate and considerate approach would be to do everything possible to restore normal sexual behaviour to the homosexual. Phychiatry can do much to help in this respect.”

Nothing a human being is capable of doing is unnatural — is it natural to refrain from all kinds of sexual activity until one is given legal sanction to indulge? Likewise it is not ‘abnormal’ to be homosexual – what is ‘normal’, if anything is, is to be simply and freely sexual. Psychiatry cannot change one’s sexual orientation, even with aversion therapy. It can create even more acute depression, even more self repression.

“The homosexual finds himself impelled to behave in a way to which, in certain respects, like the behaviour of violent criminals and some classes of mental patient. In these cases it is argued that these people are either unfit to look after themselves or so violent they must have their freedom restricted.”

The Rev. MacRae resembles a mental patient far more than any gay person I have yet met, if his letters are anything to go by. Is he suggesting that we ought to have our freedom restricted or that we are unfit to look after ourselves?

“. . the law must take cognisance of the attack that homosexuality comprises on the institution of marriage and on the accepted moral standards of our society. The law must also be aware of the possibility of the spread of homosexuality, which, in the past, has been very much to the detriment of great civilisations.”

Is he suggesting that this is a great civilisation? Does he know we lost the Empire? The ‘accepted moral standards’ of this and most other western countries are in themselves an attack on humanity, freedom and life and deserve to be attacked in their turn.

“. . . but what is the value of a cure if the individual does not wish to be cured, and how will the individual ever wish a cure as long as the law is lax and society accomodating?”

Just how unpleasant would he make those laws and that society?

“Is he aware of how International Communism views the moral laxity which has overtaken the West?”

Is he aware of how International Communism treats homosexuals. Much as he would like to treat us.

“The grace of God does for us what we cannot do for ourselves, and because of this delivers even the smug and self-righteous from their equally heinous sins.”

I hope you are talking about yourself there, Rev..

‘No’ to repealing anti-gay laws

03-197207XX-04The Democratic convention in Miami has turned down a proposal, advanced by gays in America, to repeal all laws involving voluntary sex acts in private.

Gay Liberationists, from all parts of the country, have gathered in Miami for the convention. Some quarters had supposed, because of Senator George McGovern’s liberal leanings, that this was the time to press for the removal of the many laws that still keep homosexuality a crime in most places, even a major one in some States. It is still possible to receive, for a gay sexual act even between adults, a prison sentence which could be as heavy as one passed for a major criminal act, such as armed robbery. The older gay community can still remember when ‘offenders’ felt the full severity of these sentences.

Gay Lib people have already had one brush with the law whilst being in Miami. The cities staid, retired citizens had apparently been ‘shocked’ and ‘horrified’ by seeing gays in drag in the streets and parks. But, much to the indignation of the elder citizens, the gays successfully pleaded in the city courts that the First Amendment entitled them to engage in transvestism if they so desired, and in public too.