We’re Doing Something

EDINBURGH: People working for homosexual law reform in Scotland were astonished to read GN11’s Editorial which — while making very pertinent points on Age of Consent and the heavy task ahead for those who will be promoting sexual law reform in the UK — failed to take account of progress in Scotland in 1972.

The main work has been carried out by the Scottish Minorities Group (Law Reform subcommittee), and by some office-bearers of the Scottish Council for Civil Liberties, to which SMG is affiliated. The whole work was greatly assisted by a donation from an SMG member of £100. Without this vital cash, SMG would not have been able to get beyond the “talking shop” stage.

The moves began in May 1971 when I (the SMG Chairman) successfully guided through an SMG Motion to the SCCL Annual General Meeting, calling on SCCL to take a firm stand on remaining social and legal discrimination against homosexuals in Scotland. This motion was on similar lines to that adopted by the National Union of Students (Scottish Region) in March 1971. A much expanded version is before the NUS Margate Conference, November 1972, proposed by the University of Reading.

In December 1971, the SMG Annual General Meeting adopted Councillor Ian Christie’s motion which instructed the Executive Committee (a) to consult with the SCCL upon the introduction of parliamentary legislation to repeal the 1885 Act as far as it applies to Scotland in order to legalise homosexual acts between consenting adults, and (b) to conduct an energetic campaign to enrol public opinion in Scotland in favour of such law reform.

We got off to a brisk start in January when the SMG pamphlet “The Case For Homosexual Law Reform in Scotland” was circulated to all 71 MPs who represented a Scottish constituency, and to a fair cross-section of Members of the House of Lords who had spoken out in favour of law reform in the 1960’s. The pamphlet was accompanied by a covering letter signed by Peter Wellington, the then Chairman of SCCL. The response was disappointing. Those MPs who even bothered to reply said they’d oppose Law Reform, or said that they were “sympathetic” but didn’t think it was an urgent issue. Liverpool CHE got much the same response when they wrote to all MPs in their area in May 1972. Disappointed as we were, we followed up the letters with an insistent lobbying campaign in the Edinburgh Area. The results of our conversations were quite encouraging (for the first time MPs were face-to-face with homosexuals, and it wasn’t so easy to be evasive), and we gradually realised that our best chances of success lay in the introduction of a Bill in the House of Lords.

Meanwhile (June 1972) we had completed our analysis of the (English) 1967 Act. A summary of this appeared in GN3 (July 1972). The analysis procedure was carried out over a series of committee meetings. We sought the views of SMG members through SMG NEWS, and wrote to several people with a knowledge of Scots law. We also began to write to the major religious and social institutions calling on them to inform SMG of their attitudes towards homosexual law reform, and to support the SMG campaign. So far, the Society of Friends in Scotland (Quakers) has expressed clear support for the SMG proposals.

This was the grimmest period of our work. The task was difficult and often distasteful. The existing law is couched in highly pejorative and emotive terms. Reluctantly we realised that we couldn’t hope to “clean up” all the phrases. The idea of a sexual “offence” is retained in our final proposals, as is the distinction between “sodomy” (buggery in England and Wales) and other types of sexual “offences”. Our legalisation proposals are fixed at 18 absolutely, with strong defence safeguards for 16 and 17-year-olds. No less than 5 Acts (3 exclusively relating to Scotland) are repealed in part or amended, and this explains why we felt it necessary to promote a “Scotland only” Bill — we really doubt whether an English Act could successfully take into account the fundamentally different aspects of Scots law. We have sent a copy of the Bill to Gay News. The Bill will be formally published on 2nd December 1972, and copies can be obtained from Mike Coulson, 9 Moray Place, Edinburgh, 3 at a cost of 30p each, post free.

Although we have had one definite response from a Member of the House of Lords, who has agreed “as a last resort” to introduce our Bill, we are still in the process of sounding out other Members’ views. Our lobbying campaign continues (up-to-date details from our Annual Report for 1972, issued 1st December), and the Crown Agent has congratulated us on the draughtsmanship of the proposed Bill. His main criterion is whether or not reform proposals are enforceable, and our proposals are “thoroughly enforceable”.

We have come under much pressure — even attack — from many homosexuals, some “figureheads”, for pushing ahead with Scottish proposals. When people haven’t been questioning us on the need for law reform (why bother, we’re okay thanks, brigade) others have criticised us for being too timid. Most people seemed to forget that the Law Reform Committee was (and is) working within the terms of the SCCL and SMG Annual Meeting instructions. Within these terms, we maintain, we have made good and solid progress towards Homosexual Law Reform for Scotland.

Ian Dunn

ED: The editorial in GN11 was written deliberately with the hope that we would receive such a response as above. To date we have received no replies from Campaign for Homosexual Equality or Gay Liberation Front.

We do though, consider it a great pity that SMG have settled for eighteen as being the consenting age for male homosexuals, for as we said in our editorial – ‘The age (of consent) should and must be sixteen, as it is with girls – for to settle for anything else would be an admission on our part that homosexuality is something different and strange.’

Dreams For Bike Boys

Picture has been edited as the age of the subject is not clear.A glittering showcase of hard steel and power greeted me on the last day of the Motor Cycle Show at Earls Court. Big uns and Little uns of every shape and size to suit every taste available if you happen to have a few hundred spare quid lying around in your bottom drawer.

Magical names like Triumph, Norton, Kawasaki, Honda evoking thoughts of speed and hot summer days but dear me! not a BMW in sight save my old R60 lying in a side street. Really ‘very tasty’ some of these machines were too, and the exhibitors actually encouraged people to get on the machines and feel them for themselves. (Good sales psychology that!)

The younger element were having a whale of a time doing just that – twisting throttles and jumping up and down on kick starts though there was little chance of them starting up minus batteries and petrol.

Pity that might have been rather fun. After two hours or so of this heady atmosphere arid looking at these beautiful machines, not to mention the beautiful boys your reporter staggered to the bar in search of a quick snorter but not until he had overheard this from a six year old to his dad. “Dad, can I have that Red one over there?” The Red one happened to be a 450cc Ducati priced at £460.80.

I guess that’s something one little boy won’t be getting in his stocking for Christmas.

Gay Dentist Banned

Picture has been edited as the age of the subject is not clear.SOUTHPORT: A dentist has been banned from practicing as a dentist because he is gay, and the General Dental Council’s disciplinary committee in London admit that he has never behaved in “anything but a skilled and professional manner in the surgery.”

The dentist, who has been deprived of his livelihood for his off-duty life, came to the disciplinary committee’s attention when he was convicted of a sex ‘offence’ at Preston in May.

The gay dentist, who is 48 years old, was said to be a homosexual by his defence counsel, who added that the had undergone treatment for his gayness since the conviction before last, which was in 1967.

The defence counsel said: “The offence committed in May this year was an isolated breakdown.”

The dentist is given 28 days to appeal against the committee’s decision. If he does not, his name will be erased from the dentist’s register and he will be out of work.

National Jewish Talk In

Picture has been edited as the age of the subject is not clear.LONDON: It was a bit of an anti-climax, really. Eight hours devoted to the subject of homosexuality and the Jew was enough to put off even the most devout Jew — or devout homosexual for that matter.

There we were, gathered in Holborn on a wet Sunday afternoon, each ready to bare his or her soul to the distinguished speaker who was constantly on the verge of appearing but never seemed to arrive.

The first half of the epic length debate consisted of Ian Harvey giving his famous Dunkirk speech that everyone has heard before, and dear old Anthony Grey looking for all the world like the undertaker to the gay world, and saying how much he liked being in with all his Jewish friends.

Things didn’t improve when a show of hands revealed that less than half the people present were actually Jewish. But never mind … Simon Benson was obviously enjoying every moment of it, and everyone agreed that it was very good of him to have arranged the whole thing.

There were the usual stories of How I Told Momma – spiced on this occasion by a few leaden Jewish jokes. The break came as a great relief.

In the interval the Star Turn appeared – looking very biblical with his long beard and eating sandwiches wrapped in tinfoil. He held out much promise.

By the second half, many had left, and the Jewish element in the audience had the strange experience of being a minority in an establishment run primarily for them.

The Star Turn gave us hard stuff about the Jewish attitude to the homosexual. Jewish law does not recognise the existence of homosexuals — only homosexual acts; these are forbidden. If I followed the talk correctly, the soul was regarded as being bisexual, and could only attain full unity when partnered with its other half, which, I gathered, could only happen within heterosexual marriage.

When asked what he would say to a Jew who asked him how to be a good Jew and a practicing homosexual as well, the distinguished speaker was at a loss, Finally he said that he would have to say “do your own thing…” Ten years ago that would have been a fairly radical statement, and the distinguished speaker thought that it was still a radical point of view, because he asked the reporter from the Jewish Chronicle not to report this part of the proceedings.

When the understandably flabergasted reporter asked why, she was given a pathetic string of implausible horrors that could befall Jewish teachers who step out of line. I was depressed, and I left soon after.

On my way out I saw Anthony Grey coming up from the loo, still looking for all the world like the undertaker. He gave me a short, tight smile and went back to the meeting, obviously bored beyond words..

Enlightened Sentence

Picture has been edited as the age of the subject is not clear.ROCHESTER, N.Y.: An enlightened American Judge gets this month’s award for diplomacy. Faced with the problem of sentencing a gay convicted of first-degree assault he “reluctantly” placed him on probation because of fears that the man – 29-year-old Michael Dodd — would be “dehumanised if not killed” if sentenced to a term of imprisonment.

The case was dealt with recently by Judge David O. Boehm at Munroe County Court. Before passing sentence he asked prison officials about the potential danger to a homosexual inmate.

“They were very candid,” said Judge Boehm. There had been stabbings and fights over this situation yet all the prison officers could do was to give verbal instructions to the prisoners.

Judge Boehm said he just couldn’t see throwing Michael into that situation.

“It would be cruel and unusual punishment. He’d become an object of barter there, completely dehumanised, if he wasn’t killed.”

Judge Boehm placed Michael on probation on condition that he sought psychiatric help and stayed away from the victim of the assault.

He told Michael that if he violated any condition of parole, it “will be clear indication that you’re not concerned, as I am, with what might happen if you’re sentenced to prison.” Judge Boehm added: “I resent the fact that we have no alternatives. This is a heck of a thing and the public ought to know about it. I resent the fact that another person may come up who’s a homosexual and he may have a more serious crime and I’m stuck.”

Right on Judge Boehm and here’s hoping your views come to the notice of your English colleagues.

Monday Club Uses Gays

Picture has been edited as the age of the subject is not clear.A pamphlet is currently circulating around London called The Monday Club: a danger to British Democracy. It is an exposure of this ultra-right-wing group and makes for far from delightful reading. It names names, makes accusations and unearths unsavoury details about the private lives of many well-known Monday Club members and supporters. It is highly libellous, which is, presumably, why it lacks the names of author, printer or publisher.

One particularly interesting section is headed: Fairies at the Bottom of Their Garden and begins: “The homosexual aspect is vital if one is to investigate the intrigue that is going on in and around the Monday Club.”

It continues: “A Poetry Society covered some of these activities and involved a man … who has been in trouble with the police for his gay behaviour. … (he) is far better known as one of the leaders of the one-time Revolutionary Communist Party. Today, this man is able to mix amongst Conservatives, including Members of Parliament, because of his gay friends and now Right-wing political associates.

“It is always observed that homosexuals are bad security risks as they are open to blackmail and other forms of pressure. Certainly it would appear that those Right extremists in the Monday Club are seeing that homosexuals are being placed in positions where they can be influenced at a later date.”

The item goes on to name two such men.

Horror Wave Sweeps Earls Court

Picture has been edited as the age of the subject is not clear.Look out. Here it comes. It’s the biggest Gay News the world has ever seen. The next Gay News is a monster. It’s the only issue next month, so we’re making it special. The Great Christmas Issue Conspiracy has been uncovered. Reports reaching here suggest the paper published on December 13 will be so packed with goodies you won’t be able to put it down for a month.

It stars Peter Straker (in a Gay News exclusive interview), Robin Maugham (a story that’s never been published outside Gay News) and Judy Garland (an exclusive look through the tinsel at the lady behind the legend). Plus news, reviews, games, fun and entertainment guides.

Special guest star: the entire script of the gay sketch the BBC banned from its top rating comedy show. Know what we mean?

With a goodie like that coming your way you owe it to yourself to order your Christmas Gay News from your newsagent or by sending a cheque or PO (made payable to Gay News Ltd) to Santa, Room 1, Gay News, 19 London Street, London W2 1HL.


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Remember make it special and start the subscription with the monster Christmas Gay News.

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