1996 May

Sentencing and Supervision of Sex Offenders

Response to the Home Office Consultation Paper

Mr. K. Hopley,
Action Against Crime Unit,
Home Office,
50 Queen Anne’s Gate,
London. SW1H 9AT

Dear Mr. Hopley,

Consultation Paper: Sentencing and Supervision of Sex Offenders

In our view the Home Office is right to take action to protect children from sexual abuse. However, the new proposals set out in Sentencing and Supervision of Sex Offenders mistakenly lump together consensual and coercive sexual offences, and those between adults and those involving children.

We believe the proposals should be restricted solely to people convicted of sexually abusing children, and should not penalise persons convicted of consensual sex with other adults or other young people of a similar age.

In accordance with the Indecency With Children Act 1960, we propose that the definition of a child should be a young person under the age of 14.

The requirement to register with the police, and other penalties outlined in Sentencing and Supervision of Sex Offenders, should exclude those convicted of consensual sex offences involving persons aged 14 or over, and those convicted of similarly victimless offences where both partners are under 14 and of roughly comparable ages.

We furthermore believe that those convicted of consensual offences involving one person over 14 and the other under 14 should also be excluded from these proposals, providing there were no more than three years difference in their ages (as in the case of mutually agreed sex between a 13 year old and a 15 year old).

Some young people under 14 knowingly and willingly sexually experiment with each other. They are not a threat to children and should not therefore be subject to the provisions set out in Sentencing and Supervision of Sex Offenders.

We particularly want the largely gay and consensual offences of buggery, indecency, soliciting and homosexual acts on merchant ships deleted from the index of offences in Annex A. Accordingly, we propose the removal of:

(1956 Sexual Offences Act)

* Section 12 – Buggery (or attempt to commit buggery)
* Section 13 – Indecency between men
* Section 32 – Solicitation by a man

(1967 Sexual Offences Act)

Section 2 – Homosexual acts on merchant ships.

There are plenty of other laws (apart from the four mentioned above) which can be used to protect young people against abusive, coercive and violent sexual exploitation, such as the Indecency With Children Act 1960, and the laws against rape, incest and indecent assault (under the Sexual Offences Act 1956).

There is no need, or justification, to punish the thousands of gay and bisexual men who have convictions for consensual sex with other adult males.

Our research, based on Home Office and police statistics, suggests that there were nearly 20,000 convictions for homosexual acts between consenting adults during the period 1980-89 (mostly for victimless cruising and cottaging).

In 1994 alone, about 500 gay and bisexual men were found guilty of offences which caused no harm and had no victims. All these men will now be required to notify the police of changes of address, as will many thousands more if these proposals are made indefinitely retrospective to cover anyone who has ever had a conviction for a sexual offence (a proposition we urge the Home Office to reject).

Under the Home Office proposals, the Bishop of Durham, Michael Turnbull, who was convicted of gross indecency with another man in a public toilet in 1968, would be required to inform the police of any change of address and alert them if he went away on a holiday or religious retreat lasting longer than four weeks. The idea that men like the Bishop are a threat to children is absurd.

It is a gross mistake to classify men involved in consenting sex with other adult males alongside child sex abusers, rapists and other harmful sex offenders. Most importantly, it will not help to protect children from unwanted sexual advances and molestation.

Yours sincerely,

Marina Cronin
OutRage! London

The Outing of Bishop Hope

In March 1995, the then Bishop of London, Dr. David Hope, called an impromptu press conference where he announced that his sexuality was a “grey area”. He claimed that he had been forced to make this announcement because he was being pressured and intimidated by Peter Tatchell of the gay rights group OutRage!, who had written to him in December 1994, urging him to be open and honest about his sexuality.

Later, however, a very different story emerged. In an April 1995 interview with the Sunday Times journalist, Lesley White, the Bishop of London admitted that he did not declare his sexuality in response to the OutRage! letter. He had, after all, received our letter two months prior to his decision to go public. What precipitated the Bishop’s sudden coming out was an approach from Clifford Longley, the Religious Affairs correspondent of the Daily Telegraph. Dr. Hope says that Clifford Longley gave him the impression that he was going to be exposed by OutRage! In fact, we had no plans to out the Bishop of London. Dr. Hope was effectively bounced into coming out by a journalist who gave him false information.

If we had wanted to reveal Dr. Hope’s sexuality, we would have done so last November at General Synod when we named the other 10 Bishops. We didn’t out him because we felt that it would be far more effective if Dr. Hope could be persuaded to come out of his own free will.

The final straw for Dr. Hope was possibly an article in the Independent On Sunday on 12 March, the day before he publicly declared his sexuality. Entitled “Why Gays Are Called To The Church”, this article by Andrew Brown referred to the large number of gay clergy in the London diocese. In the next sentence it cited the Bishop of London and his past rôle in running St Stephen’s House, Oxford, which it described as “the campest of all theological colleges, where he was known as Ena the Cruel”. The innuendo and insinuation was obvious. It seems the Bishop decided to jump before he was pushed.

The following extract from an article in the “Telegraph” dated 14-March-1995 by Clifford Longley and Ben Fenton serves to illustrate. –

Dr. David Hope said he had been “deeply distressed” by the group’s activities and the apparent attempt by Mr. Peter Tatchell, a spokesman, to persuade him to admit to being homosexual.

He described the atmosphere that had oppressed him since Mr. Tatchell had suggested three months ago that the group had detailed information about his personal life as “seriously intimidatory”.

The 54-year-old bishop denied absolutely that he was homosexual, but acknowledged there was more “ambiguity” about his sexual orientation than with some people.

He said: “With regard to the question ‘Are you a gay bishop?’, the answer to this is that I have from the beginning chosen to live a single celibate life. This is a positive way of life for me.”

Dr. Hope’s extraordinary openness followed a series of conflicts involving leading clerics and homosexual issues.

OutRage! named 10 bishops as alleged homosexuals during last November’s General Synod. The Bishop of London was not one of them. Then at a private meeting on Jan 4, Mr. Tatchell handed him a letter urging him to “come out”.

Mr. Tatchell, 43, denied yesterday that the letter had been threatening. He said: “It was a friendly and amicable meeting.” He said he later received an answer to his letter which was also published by the bishop yesterday.

AIDS Research wasted on animal testing

by Peter Tatchell

As Hollywood is pressured to choose between AIDS research and animal rights, Peter Tatchell argues that animal experiments are scientifically flawed and unethical.

AIDS awareness and animal rights are the two biggest Hollywood causes célèbres. Now stars are being told they can’t be in favour of both. AIDS activists claim there will be no progress in the fight against HIV without animal testing. They are demanding that Hollywood ditches its support for animal rights.

This has led a minority of celebrities, like singer Melissa Etheridge, to abandon their endorsement of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which campaigns against vivisection.

But the choice offered by AIDS activists is a false one. It is possible to support the rights of both animals and people with AIDS. Indeed, several dissident chapters of the AIDS activist organisation, ACT UP, backed the recent March For The Animals in Washington DC, as did the London-based queer rights group, OutRage!

In a letter read out at the March by rock star Chrissie Hynde, OutRage! declared: “We do not believe that the oppression of queer people can, or should, be remedied by the oppression of other peoples or species”.

The defenders of AIDS-related vivisection respond by arguing that finding a cure for HIV is so important that it justifies inflicting pain on animals. However, if cruelty is excusable for the greater good, then surely it would be also justifiable to experiment on humans. Obviously it is not!

The truth is that vivisection –not animal rights– is undermining the fight against AIDS. It is diverting resources away from more promising avenues of investigation. If we want to know how HIV affects humans, we need to study human physiology (not that of other species).

Confirmation that research findings with animals cannot be generalised to humans (and vice versa) is well established: there has been only one case of HIV causing AIDS-like illness in chimpanzees, and SIV (the monkey immune deficiency virus) doesn’t produce AIDS in people.

Common sense says that the most likely way to discover a vaccine and cure for HIV among humans is to research the interaction of HIV with human cells and the human immune system.

Since 1992, several of the world’s top scientists –including Professors Robin Weiss, Albert Sabine and Jonathan Weber– have warned that AIDS studies using animals are unlikely to be of much relevance to the conquest of HIV in people. They complain that the millions of pounds squandered on studies with other species would have been far more usefully spent on research with humans.

All the major advances in understanding HIV have been made without the need for vivisection. One of the very important insights into the way HIV penetrates the cells of the immune system was part-funded by an animal rights group (the Dr. Hadwen Trust). Using human cell cultures, this discovery at St. Mary’s Hospital, London, was made by researcher who are critical of vivisection on scientific grounds. Head of the research team, Professor Jonathan Weber, believes that their breakthrough may not have come about if, like many other scientists, they had focused on studies with non-human species.

ernatives to the use of animals in HIV experiments –such as human cell, tissue and organ cultures– increasingly offer fast and accurate results. Computer modelling has also made a big contribution to the development of new HIV treatments.

Once the provisional safety of a new anti-AIDS drug is ascertained, Professor Weber supports carefully controlled human volunteer trials. These can involve the administration of tiny, harmIess doses and the monitoring of their effects by means of blood samples, lasers, biopsies and ultrasound probes.

These techniques are a more reIiable indicator of a drug’s safety than experiments with animals. Tests with rats and mice, for example, failed to predict some of the adverse side effects of the two main HIV treatments, AZT and ddI.

Despite AIDS activists’ berating Hollywood stars with claims that animal research is necessary to save lives, there is not a single significant breakthrough in AIDS research that can be attributed to animal experimentation. Vivisection is, in fact, a disreputable, unethical pseudo-science that is hindering our understanding of AIDS and how to defeat it.

The Pink Pound – Gay Businesses should not exploit their Staff

Have you ever felt short-changed by the Gay Business Association’s endless perpetuation of the so called “Pink Pound”?

It’s a seductive concept: the idea of a mass of issue-conscious, gay, lesbian and bisexual consumers, capable of (and willing to) exercise their purchasing power to the detriment of businesses that hurt queers … it’s certainly something we’d all like to believe in.

But just look, the ambivalent pattern of consumer spending behaviour within our community — it’s not exactly inspiring, is it?

For example, the apparent lack of anything more than passive queer concern over Time Out’s exposure of staff sexual abuse allegations against Compton’s of Soho manager, George Winchcole, makes a mockery out of the notion of a conscientious “pink pound”; it also casts doubt upon the existence of a genuine, gay, lesbian and bisexual “community”.

If these two things really existed, surely queers would have diverted their custom and expenditure away from a bar that has acquired such an unpleasant reputation.

Sure they would – but they haven’t. Compton’s has consistently been as packed as ever since the allegations first emerged, and the free queer press has (at best) treated the issue as a wholly peripheral news story — a sorry spectacle that illustrates the shameful extent to which they are tucked inside the bar owner’s pockets. The queer press only responded once the story became impossible to ignore. Without Time Out the story would have probably never seen the light of day.

It’s fucking disgraceful, and radical queers must not be afraid to look critically at things that emanate from the (ultimately self interested) GBA, instead of from queer subculture in its far broader sense.

The truth is the “pink pound” protagonists will sell us short every time in the name of a big, fat pink profit; and the wall of silence that initially surrounded the Compton’s fiasco illustrates this far better than words ever could.

OutRage! calls on the GBA to draw up a code of conduct opposing sexual harassment in the workplace (including an independent complaints procedure) and require all its member businesses to sign it.

We also call for the formation of a union for employees working in Gay Businesses to protect their interests against greedy, exploitative employers. We suggest BUGGER – the British Union for Good Gay Employees’ Rights.

Outing is a Catalyst for Social Change

by Marina Cronin

OutRage’s Policy on Outing

We would never out a private individual or a public figure who supports the lesbian and gay community. The only people we support outing are public figures who abuse their power and authority to condemn homosexuality and oppose gay civil rights. In other words, we target those who are gay in private but antigay in public. People who act in a way that is hypocritical and homophobic are fair game for outing.

Church Homophobia

Unlike the Church, OutRage! believes in the parable of the Good Samaritan. We are not willing to walk by on the other side of the street while homosexual men and women are being victimised.

The queer community has a right to defend itself against public figures, including church leaders, who abuse their power and influence to support policies which inflict suffering on homosexuals.

Bishops lecture other people about being truthful: yet at least 14 of them refuse to be truthful about their own homosexuality. They bear false witness and absurdly accuse OutRage! of intimidation because we asked them to be truthful.

Even more nauseating, these bishops are gay in private, but publicly condemn homosexuality and support antigay discrimination. The official policy of the Anglican Church, endorsed by all Bishops, is that homosexuals must “repent”. These teachings fuel antigay intolerance and lead to concrete acts of Anglican homophobia. Gay clergy in open, honest homosexual relationships are forced out of the ministry. Church resources are provided for “ex-gay” cults such as the Courage Trust, which attempts to brainwash queers into believing they are sick and in need of “healing”. The Children’s Society, a Church of England charity, refuses to allow lesbians and gays to foster young people in need of a loving home.

This denial of homosexual human rights is endorsed by Anglican leaders such as the ex-Bishop of London, David Hope, (now Archbishop of York). Dr. Hope opposes an equal age of consent for gay men and supports the Children’s Society ban on lesbian and gay foster parents.

Queer Self Defence

Outing is queer self-defence. We have a right, and a duty, to expose hypocrites and homophobes. By not outing gay Bishops who support policies which harm homosexuals, we would be protecting these Bishops and thereby allowing them to continue to inflict suffering on members of our community. Collusion with hypocrisy and homophobia is not ethically defensible for Christians, or for anyone else.

Outing is a shock tactic. We make no apology for that. No movement for social justice has ever won equality without being provocative. As the Suffragettes and the black civil rights movement showed, it’s often necessary to be confrontational in order to force an uncaring, intolerant society to address the concerns of the down-trodden.

The Positive Effects of Outing

Whether or not people agree with OutRage!, our outing campaign has done more than any other initiative to publicly the hypocrisy and homophobia of the Church of England. It has compelled the Anglican leadership to address lesbian and gay issues in a way that no other campaign has succeeded in doing.

Six months ago, the Anglican leadership was refusing to discuss homosexuality. Because polite lobbying had failed, OutRage! felt more challenging tactics were necessary. In November 1994, we named 10 Anglican Bishops and urged them to “Tell The Truth” about their homosexuality. Within two weeks, senior Church leaders began serious discussions with lesbian and gay organisations for the first time. Within a month, the Bishops issued one of their strongest condemnations of antigay discrimination. A little later, the world conference of Anglican leaders called on the Church to rethink it’s policy on homosexuality. Then, after having refused to make any public pronouncement on homosexuality for five years, the Archbishop of Canterbury declared that lesbians and gays are “made in the likeness of God” and that society must “reject homophobia”.

Our Plan Worked

In the midst of all this, two Bishops came out. Although the then Bishop of London did so half-heartedly, it was nevertheless a great achievement to get the third most senior Bishop to admit that his sexuality was “ambiguous” and “a grey area”. A few months earlier, such an admission would have resulted in his resignation. Now, however, because OutRage! has succeeded in making Church homophobia less acceptable, the Bishop of London has been promoted to Archbishop of York!

Our plan worked like a dream. We wanted the Bishop of London to come out and for the Church to accept and support him. That’s exactly what happened. We created a situation where the entire Anglican leadership felt compelled to rally round the Bishop and give him its official blessing.

With the Bishop of London having been accepted by the Church, this should now make it easier for other clergy to come out and make it harder for the Anglican hierarchy to take disciplinary action against them.

Already our campaign has inspired some parish priests to come out. It has generated immensely valuable discussions on homosexual issues in many congregations. Indeed for three weeks, we got the whole country talking about matters of concern to lesbian and gay people.

Provoking a Crisis Gets Results

Since the Bishops were named and two others came out, everyone knows that there are gay people within the Church leadership. This is bound to make the Anglican top brass more circumspect in their homophobia. They realise that, given their tacit acceptance of gay senior clergy, any hint of antigay policy will be instantly ridiculed as hypocrisy and double standards. This will almost certainly act as a significant constraint on overt Church homophobia in the future.

None of these positive developments would have occurred if OutRage! had not “provoked a crisis” in the Church by naming the Bishops. Outing has been a catalyst for social change. Not only has it pushed the Anglican Church further towards accepting gay clergy and supporting homosexual human rights, it has also put the hypocrisy and homophobia of establishment institutions at the centre of public debate. OutRage! is proud to have turned over the tables in the temples of homophobia.