No Recognition At Queen’s

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 Homosexuals are still hampered in Ulster by outdated social attitudes and by legislation, but I think Ulster people are mature enough to take this type of play, If protesters try to stop the production we shall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.

No Offence Meant

THE OFFENCE. Directed by Sidney Lumet. Starring Sean Connery. Released by United Artists. Cert “X”.

Cheaply, hurriedly made in the wake of “Diamonds Are Forever”, the most successful film at the box office in 1972, written by the creator of Z Cars, John Hopkins, this futile little saga set up as a vehicle for Connery’s doubtful acting talents, is rather like an extended version of a TV episode, with the rapidly ageing Sean as a super-violent Barlow type of detective, who’s a child molester on the side.

It all takes place in one of those perpetually dank, dark, Northern newtowns, where, predictably, Connery pulls in some moustached little middle-aged weed, who he attempts to frame as the molester. There is an endless interrogation scene, in the strangest looking police cell I’ve ever seen. It looks more like an unfinished set at Twickenham Studios to me. Anyway there are torrents and torrents of inaudible dialogue and blood, culminating in the death of the man and Connery returning to a dowdy looking wife, and the audience being treated to a very nineteen-sixties kitchen-sink expose of their non-sex lives. One of the most tedious films for ages. To be avoided.