St. Andrews Liberated

EDINBURGH: In January, St Andrews was liberated. Well, they tried hard, liberation week lasted from the 10th to the 17th and got a lot of straight media coverage for its women’s lib street theatre.

Sunday was best. A seminar on sexual liberation! Danny Mullen, Jim Halcrow and Alaister Davidson were there to represent the gay scene, Danny is the new chairman of SMG.

SMG are doing a lot of righteous work up there, but Danny came on saying there wasn’t and never had been a GLF group in Scotland. But who was groovin’ at their Cobweb Dance on the 26th January?

Some of us don’t worry over much about chairmen and committees, but in public, from a major spokesman, let’s see some solidarity. When SMG are pushing a homosexual law reform bill, let’s not see it knocked in public by the chairman of SMG. Danny didn’t mention that bill until a guy in the audience prompted him. He then said that he had a lot of reservations about it.

Solidarity in the gay movement comes before factionalism. No one gives a damn how many legal niceties or official pecking orders there may be – just get on with it.

TEACH-IN ON HOMOSEXUALITY

Edinburgh, Thursday 8 March 1973.

Speakers include Prof Morris Carstairs, Principal-Designate of York University; Prof John Gagnon, formerly of the Kinsey Institute; Nicholas Fairbairn, QC; Denis Lemon & Glenys Parry of Gay News Collective; and major spokesmen/women from the Church, Psychiatry and Sexual Liberation. One day event culminating in a disco at Heriot-Watt University. Check with Mike 031-225 4395 for crash pads and other details.

Something Old… Something New…

EDINBURGH: Nominations to the SMG Executive Committee for 1973 exactly matched the number of vacancies. For SMG, this was an encouraging start to their fourth year of existence.

In 1971, SMG introduced the 3-year retiral rule which impels elected Executive Members to retire automatically after three years of service to the cause. Standing for re-election this year are John Breslin, presently National Secretary, and Alan Dalziel who is the Exec’s minutesman. John’s voice is comfortingly familiar to the hundreds of telephone callers to the Glasgow Office over the past two years, – even his answering machine has a friendly shine! Alan has coped well with the often heated discussions (and semi-awareness-raising sessions) generated at the monthly Executive Committee meetings.

Old “stock” is soundly preserved in the shape of bearded Ian Dunn (SMG’s Chairman in 1972, and its first secretary in 1969), Danny Mullen (debonair and with a flawless taste for bow ties and red carnations and blue velvet trousers), Alastair (The Dish) Davidson who’s a speech and drama student, Jim Halcrow (solidly into the role of SMG Treasurer, and a true gem in our crown), blond-haired Paul Kennedy, permanent London representative on the National Federation of Homophile Organisations (did you see his letter in “The Listener” on 16th March raising the banner for gays’ contribution to the population explosion? Yes!) and finally Ian Hoy and Tony Bromley (who kept us on our toes).

New “blood” is represented by Mike Coulson (the powerhouse of SMG Edinburgh in 1972, best known for his law reform work, who hit Radio and Press headlines recently when the University of Edinburgh announced that a Teach-In on Homosexuality would be held on 8th March 1973), by Bruce Briggs (a former National Secretary – making a fresh bid for power? – who’s guided SMG Glasgow through a slowly growing year), by dark horse David (Dot) Miller recently relocated to Glasgow, who proved his salt as a local committee worker in his Edinburgh days. Nigel Butcher, the tall, dark-haired and dashing nominee from Glasgow is very much an unknown quantity (I mean in committee, dears!) but gave a sound account of himself at a recent Hustings Night in Edinburgh. Finally, Lionel Harrison – the fiscal lion of the SMG COBWEB Club in Edinburgh – brings the Executive Committee up to strength. If we can persuade him to use his considerable talents in music, he should have fun getting revenge on this potted biography by composing a new Enigma Variations.

Lets wish the team “orrabes”* for their work in Scotland during 1973.

* Glasgow dialect for “All the best”.

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.’

New Directions

EDINBURGH: The 1972 SMG Annual Report, just out, shows how the Group has developed over the past year.

The Group has nucleated into Regional Areas, and the AGM on December 2nd adopted a new Constitution which recognises development. Power has been handed over to the local gay groups. The right to raise money and to advertise locally has now been written into the SMG Constitution. The National Executive will only step in when the local group wilfully goes against the 4 Aims of SMG. Even these 4 aims have been recast to take account of past experience and the changing climate in Scotland. Their wording is “tougher and terser”

SMG’s most successful enterprise is the Saturday night Club at the COBWEB in George Square in Edinburgh (unfortunately closed over the holiday period, in case you’re thinking of visiting Edinburgh), and each Area group is now looking for similar premises, preferably under direct SMG-control and on a seven-days-a-week basis.

The Annual Report points to the success of the Annual Conference in August, and the boom in the gay publications field – referring particularly to GAY NEWS.

For the price (and the small effort) of a large stamped self-addressed envelope, the National Secretary will send you a copy of the Report. So, for the low-down on how to run a successful gay organisation, write to the Secretary, SMG, 214 Clyde Street, Glasgow, G1 4JZ.

Spike Folds

GLASGOW: Oppression of gays in Scotland tightened last week when the country’s radical paper was closed by the Post Office.

The Black Box News Agency, which published Spike, faced a £400 telephone bill, which it still can’t pay.

Black Box had acted as a selling agency for Gay News in Scotland, as well as publishing its own newpaper.

Spike’s folding means that, subscription copies apart, less than 100 copies of Gay News are now sold in Scotland.

Spike was an alternative newspaper that covered most areas of political and sexual liberation.

Edging Out

EDINBURGH: Scotland’s gays have taken two more steps out of the shadows of illegality. And both centre on this city’s university.

The first was a renewed campaign for gay rights launched at new students at the university when the Scottish Minorities Group handed out leaflets at the university’s Fresher’s Fair. There were two leaflets given away, one aimed at gays, the other at non-gays.

At the fresher’s fair the student societies were asked to sign a petition calling upon the Government to “enact legislation abolishing the present legal sanctions against homosexuals in Scotland.”

Among those who refused to sign were the Trampoline Society, the Socialist Action Group and the editor of Student, the student’s newspaper.

The chairman of the city’s SMG branch, Michael Coulson, told Gay News that he was pleased with the reception the leafleting had met. At Edinburgh University GaySoc may be formed.

Michael Coulson, who works in the university’s Department of Sanskrit is one of the two gays running a teach-in on homosexuality at Edinburgh University in March.

Dr Coulson and the student, who to the horror of the Glasgow Herald “both profess to be practising homosexuals”, told the paper that he hoped that a large proportion of the audience at the officially-sponsored teach-in will be heterosexuals.

He said that of the estimated 500 gay students at Edinburgh only a smallish number are in contact with SMG.

SMG has already been informing the students here of what it’s like to be gay, It held an open students meeting, where the university’s consultant psychiatrist talked about his work with particular reference to homosexuality.

The Beat Goes On

19720914-04Snippet from Scotland

Peeping police pursuing people peeing came across two men in the throes of gross indecency. Despite the fact that one turned out to be a vicar they were both fined £10 at Aberdeen Sheriff Court on August 16. The vicar’s lawyer described it as a very sad case. “Mr Mc—— cares deeply for his wife and church. He is a man of conscience.”

The beat goes on.

Scots Bits

Councillor Kidd reads Gay News!

05-197208xx-3The most surprising thing about Councillor Kidd’s letter is that he actually read the newspaper.

Councillor Kidd is well known in Edinburgh and derided by all political factions. He is a fool and an imposter of the first order. His preoccupation with homosexuals borders on the sick. As I have said before (as Chairman of S.M.G.), he seems to have an unusual knowledge of the goings-on of a certain sector of the homosexual community in Edinburgh. Kidd has commented several times on the “sick fairies of Calton Hill” and he’s publicly threatened to set the police dogs on gay men who frequent the Hill.

councillor-kiddWho is Councillor Kidd? He slipped into Edinburgh in 1947, sat as a Progressive on the Council until the late 1950’s, and is now an Independent Councillor for Newington.

He is lazy and does not attend for the full duration of Council Meetings (but does eat up the free lunches!) He provides an effective voice for the reactionary Right Wing of Edinburgh’s Town Council. He can safely be ignored: there are many fine men -Councillors Christie, Hoy, Smith, Laurie and Ross for example – who are openly gay or who support S.M.G.’s local fight for gay rights.

Ian Dunn

Premises Progress

At a specially convened Policy Meeting on 29 May SMG EDINBURGH took the crucial decision to look for premises for the Edinburgh Branch. Expenditure of up to £15,000 was authorised, and quick cash backing for up to one third of this amount was received from two or three of the Members at that meeting. The meeting warmly welcomed John Compass’ offer to examine likely premises with a view to purchase. His export knowledge will be invaluable, as will be the advice of several other people whose views have been sought.

We are looking for premises which will include a large hall (theatre/dance), a bar, a library/ quiet room and space for offices. If we are fortunate there could be a house-manager’s flat and space for diverse group meetings.

SMG Women

Progress continues in both Edinburgh and Glasgow with the occasional recruit also enrolling from outside the two main centres.

One happy feature is that the women appear to be becoming less “introverted” and are taking an ever increasing part in the general meetings and activities. One related problem which has arisen: a hospitalised non-member, but lesbian, requires accommodation for a period of one month in order to secure discharge from hospital. This could be with either a host or a hostess, and in any area. For full details apply to SMG NEWS. Helping others inevitably puts ourselves to some inconvenience. But if the welfare aspect of SMG is to be a practical reality rather than a lip-service deal we have to be prepared to do just this. So . . . offers of help, please.

Reprinted, with love, from the Scottish Minorities ‘SMG News’.

Sexual Offences Report

REPORT ON SEXUAL OFFENCES ACT 1967 of the SMG LAW REFORM SUB-COMMITTEE

03-197207XX-04We hold as basic to our philosophy the principle that the State has no cause to interfere with or punish sexual behaviour or expression which does not involve assault, interference with children, or an affront to decency causing annoyance or nuisance to the public.

The 1967 Act falls short of this principle in a number of respects. We list as the most outstanding anomalies the following:

AGE OF CONSENT (Clause 1 (1)). 21 is now even more difficult to justify than when the act was passed, in view of the fact that the legal age of majority has been lowered to 18 by the Family Reform Act 1969

‘IN PRIVATE’ The definition in Clause 1 (2) is more restrictive than that envisaged by the Wolfenden Committee, and is undesirable both because of its discriminatory nature and the handle it gives to blackmailers.

EXCLUSION OF MEMBERS of the Armed Services and the Merchant Navy. (Clause 1(5) and Clause 2). This goes beyond the Wolfenden proposals and extends to off-duty circumstances which could not conceivably affect discipline and which could not constitute an offence if committed by a civilian.

EXCLUSION OF SCOTLAND AND NORTHERN IRELAND (Clause 11 (5)). Under the differing sexual conduct laws in different parts of the United Kingdom, adult male homosexuals in Scotland and Northern Ireland have fewer rights than those in England and Wales. At the same time it should be mentioned that at least one penalty under the 1967 Act is harsher than its equivalent under the 1956 Sexual Offences Act. namely that prescribed in Clause 3(2), where the maximum penalty is increased from 2 to 5 years.

MAXIMUM PENALTIES as laid down need revision and rationalization, as do those for sexual offences generally. They are in every case too severe. The primary consideration in assessing the gravity of an offence should be not the precise nature of the act committed but the degree of compulsion or intimidation involved.

PROCURING a homosexual act (even though not for purposes of gain) which is not itself an offence remains punishable under the 1967 Act (Clause 4).

CONSPIRACY is not dealt with in the Act. In the light of recent charges of “conspiracy to corrupt public morals” it would appear that invitations to commit lawful homosexual acts may be an offence in circumstances where similar invitations to commit heterosexual acts are not. The recent House of Lords narrow interpretation of the 1967 Act (14 June 1972) confirms this.

BYE-LAW OFFENCES vary widely and are outside the scope of the Act.

Michael Coulson
Convener, Law Reform Sub-Committee.


S.M.G. August Conference.

The Scottish Minorities Group is holding its Conference on Homosexuality in the Heriot-Watt University Students’ Centre, 30 Grindlay Street, Edinburgh, on Saturday 5th August 1972, from 10am to 6pm. (Entrance Fee £1 per person.)


SCOTTISH MINORITIES GROUP.

MEETINGS;

  • EDINBURGH, from 7.45pm to 9.00pm in the basement of 23 George Square. Check with Mike Coulson at 031-225 4395. Women’s Group at 7.30pm. Saturdays from 9.30pm to 12.30pm coffee/food/dance at the same address.
  • GLASGOW, meetings every Tuesday at 8.00pm at 8 Dunearn Street. Glasgow C4. Women’s Group at 184 Swinton Road, at 8 00pm. Third Friday of every month at 214 Clyde Street (library of community house) invited speakers, from 8pm.
  • DUNDEE, every Friday at Dundee University Chaplaincy. Social. Details from 041-771 7600.
  • ABERDEEN, Weekly social meetings. Details from 041-771 7600