At first sight this news story isn’t particularly relevant. But we think that it’s important. A labourer from Rugby has been found guilty of a serious offence against a girl. At Birmingham Crown Court he was put on probation for three years.
But that wasn’t the end of the matter. His employers didn’t approve of his conduct and promptly sacked him.
The man, who was not willing to go without a fight, complained to the Industrial Tribunal in Birmingham. The tribunal said that his firm must re-employ the man. They refused.
At a meeting of the same tribunal held in November, the company’s spokesman justified its action in these terms: “The company expects high standards from its employees. It will not today, tomorrow, or next year, employ a man who has been convicted of this offence, rape, or any offence involving moral turpitude.”
The tribunal rejected his defence. The man was awarded £2,053 in compensation for unfair dismissal.
The relevance of this industrial tribunal case to the majority of gays is that it supports them in any claim they might make against wrongful dismissal.
It means that gays should no longer fear being sacked for their sexuality. And for that matter, people should no longer try to stop people learning just who they are. There are far more gays who feel they have to repress their sexuality for fear of losing their jobs than there are gays who actually get sacked.
Time For Action
The time has come — and gone perhaps – when gay people start demanding their human rights. The charge of “moral turpitude” is one that many companies could use to get rid of gays they no longer wish to employ.
Our private lives are private lives and it really is time that gays demanded the right to lead private lives. It’s time we demanded the right to be treated with true equality – that is, for gays to no longer have to fear for their jobs.
In this field women have just been refused the right to be treated as men’s equals by a male MP “talking out” the Women’s Rights Bill in Parliament.
The gay male suffers the inequality that women suffer and more. There is still a very heavy weight of public opnion ready to condemn the male homosexual.
The women’s struggle for human rights is parallel to the gay struggle.
Recently women supporting the Bill which demands very basic human rights have staged a demonstration both outside and inside Parliament.
It is this sort of action that gets things done. Ultimately Mr Maddon, the MP for Hove will have to sit down and shut up while women get what’s been due to them for centuries.
It’s been a long time since we saw any action of this sort by gays for gay civil rights, so it’s hardly surprising that many in Parliament and elsewhere think that we gays are satisfied with being society’s second-class citizens.
The 1967 Sexual Offences Act offers male gays legality-within-limits. It’s not enough. It offers no protection. It is a feeble law.
Ask Your MP
One way each gay could make his/her feelings known to his/her MP is to write to the MP and ask:
(1) Are you anti-gay? If so, why?
(2) Would you support any new legislation that would give full human rights to gays in all parts of Britain. If so, why haven’t you done anything about it?
(3) Have you ever realised that one in ten of your constituents is gay? This is why you should take up the struggle for gay rights for us. As an MP you are supposed to represent the wishes of your constituents.
Remember whatever you say should be treated in confidence by your MP. Remember also that unless we take some direct action now, the time will just go on passing, and we’ll still be second-class citizens.
It is heartening to see that an industrial tribunal will not listen to excuses for sacking on the grounds of “moral turpitude”. Perhaps we are approaching the emergence of a slightly saner attitude to sexualities. But it does not mean that we have reached anything to be proud of, or even to rest at.
There are many people who, seeing that Parliament has become too divorced from the people it’s supposed to represent, have little faith in the established channels of change.
It’s true that Parliament, which, by definition, is a place for discussion by all the people, has become the legislating arm of the executive – the Government – rubber-stamping plans to freeze pay or prices, etc.
But there’s no reason to suppose that it’s got to stay like that.
Roads To Freedom
Undoubtedly, Parliament is increasingly irrelevant to the individual members of society. But to change that will take several decades – without any increase in gays’ rights.
Therefore the roads to freedom that are open to us now are:
(1) Through Parliament by making the gay voice heard – through contacting your MP;
(2) By other means outside Parliament, whatever it is – demonstration or whatever form you choose your protest to take.
The most important thing now is that we should do something: there hasn’t been a big gay rights demonstration for almost two years!
If you want freedom, decide what path your protest is going to take and then do it!