I sent the letter printed below to the Irish Times, The Dublin liberal daily. Needless to say it wasn’t published, although they happily publish letters detailing methods of deporting Ulster Protestants that would make General Amin quake. A similar letter was sent to the Belfast Telegraph, the Belfast liberal daily, and the same applies.
It is ironic since two of the Republic’s favourite sons were homosexual – Oscar Wilde and Roger Casement, though if you publicly believe that the patriot Casement was gay and his ‘black diaries’ true, you’d get short shrift from today’s patriots.
Ironically it was a former Ulster Unionist MP, Montgomery Hyde, who wrote “The Other Love” of which GN published an extract recently.
Remember in Ireland homosexuals must be political because the laws are vicious.
Those concerned with civil liberties should be made aware of the peculiar situation facing homosexuals in N. Ireland. Though governed by Mr Whitelaw and sole legislative control being exercised in Westminster, the unchanged N. Ireland law is still in operation. Thus we have the peculiar situation where a Westminster MP is liable to life imprisonment in N. Ireland for an act that is perfectly permissible in London!
The Unionist party in their role of supervising institutionalised inequality were incapable of removing such penal iniquity, even five years after the reform in England.
Not surprisingly they were ably supported in mutual silence by all the nationalist groupings. One might think that such grotesque inequality between Britain and N. Ireland would have galvanised an organisation like the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA). But NICRA said and did nothing, its credence as a genuine civil rights organisation being further eroded. An undefined term of internment and life imprisonment are remarkably similar and equally worthy of denunciation when those living in Britain are liable to neither.
The Ministry of Community Relations ought to give the Belfast homosexual community some token of gratitude for the uncompromisingly non-sectarianism it has displayed in the last three years. Not only has it remained united but it has also had the capacity to unite elements of the majority Catholic and Protestant community, albeit in common antagonism!
I recognise that changing laws does not change society, but in this case it is a vital first step. No organisations for self-help or external re-education can emerge while potential members remain liable to such harsh penalties. And only when that happens will it be possible to integrate homosexuals into society and erase the negative and self-destructive features of their behaviour.
It goes without saying that the same laws apply in Southern Ireland. As letters such as this are seldom if ever published, the matter may still be an unsubject, fit only for medical journals. If it is permissible to discuss the issue let us not hear the woeful cries of those who legislate by sloth, that there is no demand for such changes or worse still, that many homosexuals approve of the present law. It is an interesting coincidence that the homosexual minority is something on a par in numbers with the Protestant community. Where a lot has been written of the relatively minor legal discrimination they suffer, nothing has been written of the social and legal position of homosexuals.
Hopefully, Republican homosexuals will not be forced into some kind of reform queue behind Protestants, women, emigrants, etc. Instead a co-operative effort needs to be undertaken of all those minority groupings in society who are pushed around – to overcome the intransigence of a few and the ignorance of most. Otherwise individual freedom becomes a market commodity, traded in by church and state and political lobby. Back in N. Ireland where reform is largely there for the asking, a wise campaign exposing the anomalies in the law is immediately required.