Editorial

We live in a democracy. It means we’re free to do and say what we like – and that’s official. But the way society is run might tempt cynics to say that British democracy means we have the right to do and say what the state and certain self-appointed arbiters of behaviour ordain.

The 1967 Sexual Offences Act – which made gay love “legal” – specifically excludes members of the armed forces from equality with other gays, already a minority unequal with “straight” society.

At least the law spells out the ground rules even if they are, undoubtedly, wrong. For instance laws that limit gay sex to those not in the armed forces, over 21 and in two’s, in private are clearly indefensible because they make us unequal with the rest of society.

The main failing of the law, as it stands at present, is that it does not give gays the legal equality, however grudging, that black people must receive.

But far more oppressive than open harassment and legal inequality for blacks and gays alike is the sinister form of silent censorship that Gay News and all the gay organisations experience.

The Campaign for Homosexual Equality came up against the Angry Silence twice earlier this year when it was trying to fix the place for its first annual conference. Both Weymouth and Morecambe fought shy of having fairies al the end of the pier.

Recently CHE won a victory by managing to lay a wreath to the Unknown Gay Soldier at the Cenotaph in Whitehall on Remembrance Sunday. When almost any old ex-Servicemen’s Club and association representing those who allow themselves to be ruled by traitors — that is, Rhodesia – are allowed to lay wreaths, the inequality of not allowing the Gay Liberation Front to lay just such a wreath last year shrieks of a society where the homosexual is not equal even with traitors in the view of the elite law-forming body, Parliament.

Gay News has troubles with the Angry Silence in many directions and they have taken a new turn of late.

We’re used to news wholesalers and retailers such as Smiths, Menzies and Selfridges, joining in the elitist freezing out of gays. And you’re used to reading about our distribution problems by now.

The latest bizarre turn in this “free-speech” state is the Evening Standard’s refusal of an advertisement for a sex-education movie quoting Gay News.

The man at the Standard told Cobra Films’ representative that the paper wouldn’t mind running the ad if only they would quote a “respectable film critic, tor instance Alexander Walker”.

Once again the Standard has shown that whilst it will use the word ‘gay’ in headlines to sell the paper, it will not countenance the fact that gays live, are organised and have their own newspaper.

The ad-man at the Standard said that the GN crit of Cobra-1 was “near-pornography”

He is entitled to his views, but the Standard should print views it does not agree with, as the press should leave its columns open to all sectors of society as Charles Wintour, the Standard’s editor says in his recent book on the press.

Indeed, many of us feel that the views put forward as the paper’s official policy – in its leaders — and other right-wing pontifications carried in its pages are pornographic.

Mr Wintour is responsible for all the opinions expressed in the Evening Standard, including the writings of the “respectable” Alexander Walker, who was brought to the Standard by Godfrey Winn who discovered him in Brighton.

Many of the views put forward by the Standard work towards an elitist society and towards eroding free speech so that a schoolteacher may not be gay – and honest – and keep his job (GN11).

They are promoting a society where a lie is preferable to the truth. And that really is pornographic. In strictly legal terms it’s liable to deprave and corrupt the ‘Bristows’ of this world. If that’s democracy at work, no wonder so many of the more radical gays see the fight for gay equality as part of a much bigger and economic change in society.

But we at GN are used to being excluded from the press. Time Out – to whom we are grateful for many things — would not publish our ad which mentioned the personal ads in the back of GN on the advice of their legal eagle.

The silent censorship of the Cobra Films ad by the Evening Standard shows that society is not willing to accept a gay newspaper as a genuine newspaper – and it follows that if Gay News isn’t accepted as a paper by our fellow journalists, no gay can expect to be treated as anything but a curio by Charles Wintour and others like him who affect the way the power-holding elite think – no individual gay or gay organisation.

Bye-bye Weymouth!

Hullo Morecambe!

19720901-03
MANCHESTER: The Campaign for Homosexual Equality has had to move its first conference next year from Weymouth to Morecambe, because the Dorset resort’s council has reversed a decision it made in July to allow CHE to hold its conference at the Pavilion.

CHE finally got the cold shoulder from Weymouth on August 17 when the council decided by 24 votes to 14 to reject the decision of its entertainments committee to invite the conference to the town after a storm of protest in both the national and the local press.

The Dorset Echo shrilled: “Between 300 and 500 homosexuals will hold a conference in Weymouth next April.

“Their applicaiton was granted yesterday despite angry protests from the Town Council.”

Leading the opposition former mayor, Ald. Wilfred Ward, who thought the idea “a disgusting lead” to give to the town.

He said; “Just how can we get in this town in order to raise money? Are we going to stoop to just anything? We seem to want to get our money without taking into regard any standing of the town.”

Coun. John Knight agreed. He said: “This will bring in a lot of morbid sightseers who will want to see a crowd of queers.”

The Daily Mirror got in on the act, too. On July 21 the paper joined the protesting chorus.

Coun. Clifford Chalker said: “We will be having a conference of prostitutes next.”

Not all Weymouth’s councillors share Mr Chalker’s prehensile views. Ald. Sidney Porter said: “We have no right to stop a bona fide conference. We wouldn’t stop one on grounds of race or creed.”

The Mirror’s bedfellow, The Sunday People joined in the finger-pointing campaign to kill the conference.

Voice of the People, the new-style, old-morality comment column lashed out saying: “Something very queer, but very understandable is going on at the seaside town of Weymouth.

“The queer thing is that some councillors are up in arms over the decision of the entertainments committee to act as hosts to the annual conference of a perfectly legal body.

“The uproar is understandable. Because the body is the Campaign for Homosexual Equality.

“Legal though homosexual acts now are between consenting adults in private, there is strong public distaste for those who engage in them . . .

“If the citizens do let the homosexuals in there is one way that they can dissociate themselves from their guests.

BY CUTTING OUT THE OFFICIAL SHERRY PARTY AND DANCE AT WHICH CONFERENCE DELEGATES ARE USUALLY WELCOMED!” – their boldface.

The Sunday People showed that there’s more than one way to go about queer-bashing and the challenge was taken up by the people of Weymouth.

The paper showed the way to get the boot in to a lot of the good people of sunny Wevmouth.

Mrs H. A. O’Neill wrote to the Echo saying: “I am far from being prudish, unenlightened I or unwordly, but I feel the citizens of Weymouth must band together to have this degrading decision rescinded.”

Despite Mrs O’Neill’s reminder to councillors that it was the citizens of Weymouth who put them on the council, the entertainments committee wouldn’t go back on its word to CHE, and its report to the council said that it (the committee) consider that this conference might lead to better understanding of the problems which face what is understood to be a fairly large number of people, without at the same time, involvement in an extension of licence that would be unacceptable to them.

“The campaign is supported by a large number of highly distinguished and responsible persons prominent in Church and State, who have given it their approval.”

Despite that the council meeting that looked at the entertainment committee’s decision to let CHE have the Pavilion decided that it was not going to risk having 300 to 500 gays in their happy seaside resort.

The Town Clerk, Mr Edward Jones would tell Gay News only that the council had debated this for about an hour and a half. Weymouth Council would make no comment on the reasons for their decision to go back on the entertainment committee’s decision.

As for CHE, Weymouth’s hostility hasn’t upset the Manchester organisation’s hierarchy a bit. A spokesman said: “Weymouth was just one of the resorts we’d approached. We’ve now fixed it all up for Morecambe.”

Presumably the people of Morecambe are more broadminded than A. W. Delacour, of Wyke Cottage, Weymouth, who wrote to the Echo saying: “For the very small minority of our population genuinely trapped psychologically in the homosexual stage of development, one must feel the greatest compassion.

“But the current intellectual cult of defending any sort of aberration or perversion in personal relationships in the name of freedom needs to be challenged and attacked by all who subscribe to the Christian concept of human dignity. There is nothing new about sexual or homosexual licence. What went on in Sodom and Gomorrah 4,000 years ago or in the Roman Empire in the days of St. Paul, is known to everyone.

“Many people in Weymouth must surely beappalled by the insensitivity of certain of their elected representatives in agreeing to receive the conference of the Campaign for Homosexual Inequality (whatever that means!)” – Mr Delacour s cock-up.

Mr Delacour was not available to comment to Gay News on his views on gayness, but we compliment him on this letter and on his error in CHE’s title.