This could happen to you

Four Prisoners – Fourteen Charges

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Keele Gay Lib Soc established itself early this year, and membership grew rapidly at first. The group soon noticed that the police (CID) began to show some passion for having hurried half pints in the same pub they used prior to meetings. And, coincidentally, they were ostentatiously watching the house of some gays living in the Potteries, also taking youths down to the station for questioning in the absence of solicitors, parents or guardians. It is hard to establish whether threats were actually used on these occasions.

The Gay Lib Soc were informed that the police had been assembling a dossier on all known gays in the Potteries, for the last eight months.

After consultation with the NCCL (National Council for Civil Liberties) a formal complaint was sent to the police and statements forwarded to NCCL. Shortly after this the first person was arrested (on May 31) and remanded in custody. Within about two more weeks, three more people were arrested and also remanded in custody. It is possible that an otherwise growing membership melted away because of these arrests, as the group shrank in size from this time.

The remands (at Risley) continued until about July 17, when they were released on bail – police objections that they would plant bombs, intimidate witnesses, and be the subject of ravenous lynch mobs, suddenly disappeared from the prosecutor’s repertoire.

The four came up for committal on August 7, and are due to appear in the Crown Court in about 2-3 months time. Here are the details.

  1. One person aged about forty is charged with nine out of twenty-six possible charges: three charges of buggery with minors (section 12(i) of the 1956 Sexual Offences Act); five charges of attempted buggery contrary to Common Law; one charge of indecent assault (section 15 of the Sexual Offences Act).
  2. A second person aged about thirty is charged with buggery with a minor (section 12(i) of the 1956 Act).
  3. The third (about thirty-five) is charged with attempted buggery and indecent assault.
  4. The fourth, aged about nineteen, is charged with indecent assault and ‘causing wasteful employment of police time by making a phone call to the effect that there was a bomb in Longton Police Station’.

(The latter charge omitted the fact that the police had used this as an excuse to go up into the house the boys were living in, and illegally arrest them). This boy had been summarily tried on the latter charge, and no sentence was imposed, as his lawyer so abjectly grovelled and apologised for his ‘silly act , etc.

All the four charged have straight-straight solicitors – one solicitor gets most of his bread as the local pig-prosecutor!

What remains of the Gay Lib group has tried to support the accused while on remand, and get together the beginnings of an alternative defence – but it looks like they will get a straight defence in the end – psychiatrists and all.

At least four other arrests have been expected (but this may be police panic-mongering) and the present case seems in some ways like a repeat performance of the 1968 Potteries Purge, which resulted in the murder of one boy (‘suicide’ according to the coroner) whilst on remand, and the incarceration of three others after dubious police practices (see Sunday Times 17/3/68 – ‘The Disturbing Case of the Consenting Teenagers’, page 2)

These people are still remembered in the local gay community.

No Freedom to Love

“There is a sense in which all law is nothing more nor less than a gigantic confidence trick. Law is not enforceable at all if a sufficient number of people disregard it, and this is true of all laws.” Quinton Hogg

01-197205XX 8Laws which interfere with the individual’s sexuality and sexual expression will only continue to exist so long as we allow it- the will not be changed FOR us. Gay News intends to campaign for changes, since these matters are not, nor should they be, a realm in which legal controls belong. We welcome the stand taken by the Quakers in calling for the age of consent to be lowered to 14, but take the view that the law has no place in anyone’s sex life, and therefore the best sex laws are no sex laws at all: that would make us all equal, and leave no room for the suppression of any minority.

If you are a gay man, you cannot legally have sex before your 21st birthday, but if you’re a gay woman, or a heterosexual you can do so as soon as you are 16. The law is intended to prevent adolescent boys from being seduced by older men. They are apparently trusted not to succumb to a woman of any age against their own will, or if they do, it’s only a private misdemenour, not a criminal offence. It presumes that he couldn’t say no. But they can be prosecuted for seducing one another. Confused yet?

…Obscenity laws exist to repress normal sexual desires which are somehow, in law, equated with depravity. N.C.C.L. Guide to Civil Liberty

The law reflects the traditional male attitude to gay men – on the surface, we are despised, within, we are feared. Because within themselves they see us – their own heavily controlled love and desire for their own sex – and they fear.

The 1967 Act does not apply to Scotland or Northern Ireland – the law remains as it was in both these areas.

Sexual Offences Act 1956: section 32: “It is an offence for a man persistently to solicit or importune in a public place for immoral purposes.”

When the act was passed, this section

And remember… “Law is not enforceable at all if a sufficient number of people disregard it, and this is true of all laws.”

MEANT a man pimping for a woman. The law is almost never used in that sense, but to stop you picking up a guy you fancy whenever and wherever you may see him. It is never used to stop a man picking up a woman, even if he is offering her money for her services. She is in the wrong then.

Maximum penalties for some acts committed by older men with minors were increased by the 1967 Act.

Policemen can close down our pubs and clubs, and raid our parties more or less at will, if we are not behaving like heterosexuals. Because they have a duty to “preserve the peace”. Or if the backhander from the owner isn’t enough.

Publication of advertisements for the encouraging of homosexual practises is at present an offence, depending on the outcome of the It appeal currently being heard by the House of Lords.

It doesn’t matter if you are all over 21 and consenting, if there are more than two of you, it’s illegal.

In short, you can’t pick up anyone except in a pub or club or party, but the police can still raid these at will. You can’t take a man under 21 to bed, and if you’re under 21, you just can’t, that’s all. You can’t place lonely-heart ads.

BUT… Gay News WILL carry small ads for as long as you wish to use them. It must surely be an individuals human right to choose the way he or she wishes to make contact.

BUT… Gay News feels that far too little is being done to campaign for the age of consent to be lowered to the logical level, 16, giving us parity with everybody else. It should only be a matter of time before the whole question of legally enforceable age of consent for anyone comes under review.

Since the Sexual Offences Act 1967 very little positive action has been taken to remove this obsolete law from the statute books. We hear that S.M.G. is still squabbling about what particular age limit to campaign for; it’s a nice discussion point in C.H.E. and as Warren Haig says in OZ 42, “If Gay Lib had a concern for all homosexuals it would actively campaign for this… but it doesn’t.”

If you are being persecuted in any way for being yourself, we are here to try to do something about it. Tell us and let’s try together.

Gay News WILL campaign for this reduction. But, more important still, we’d like to make our columns available to anyone involved in campaigning against this particular black mark on the statute book.