1998 February

Was Jesus Gay?

Missing Fragments from St. Mark’s Gospel

Most people claim it would not affect their religious beliefs if historians discovered that Jesus was gay, according to a phone poll on London’s Talk Radio on Sunday 14 December. Fifty-one percent said revelations of Christ’s homosexuality would not affect their religious belief; 49 percent said it would.

The phone vote was part of a debate on the James Whale Show. which asked the question: “Was Jesus Gay?”. In the hot seat was Peter Tatchell of OutRage!.

Tatchell noted that one version of St. Mark’s gospel –which is still the subject of academic dispute– alludes to Jesus having a homosexual relationship with a youth he raised from the dead.

According to the U.S. Biblical scholar, Morton Smith, of Columbia University, a fragment of manuscript he found at the Mar Saba monastery near Jerusalem in 1958, showed that the full text of St. Mark chapter 10 (between verses 34 and 35 in the standard version of the Bible) contains a passage which includes the following text. –

“And the youth, looking upon him (Jesus), loved him and beseeched that he might remain with him. And going out of the tomb, they went into the house of the youth, for he was rich. And after six days, Jesus instructed him and, at evening, the youth came to him wearing a linen cloth over his naked body. And he remained with him that night, for Jesus taught him the mystery of the Kingdom of God”.

Tatchell says there is scant information about Jesus’s sexuality: “We don’t know for sure whether Jesus was straight, gay, bisexual or celibate. There is certainly no evidence for the Church’s presumption that he was heterosexual. Nothing in the Bible points to him having desires or relationships with women. The possibility of a gay Christ cannot be ruled out.

“Since there is no proof of the heterosexuality of Jesus, the theological basis of Church homophobia is all the more shaky and indefensible.

“Jesus was born a man and therefore presumably had male sexual feelings. But there are no references in the gospels to his sexuality. Large chunks of Jesus’s life are missing from the Biblical accounts. This has fuelled speculation that the early Church sanitised the gospels, removing references to Christ’s sexuality that were not in accord with the heterosexual morality that it wanted to promote”, said Peter Tatchell.

Bolton 7 – Convicted but not jailed

Defence Campaign saved men from prison

The Bolton 7 remain convicted of consenting gay sex in the privacy of their own homes: but they walked free from court on 20th February, largely thanks to the high-profile defence campaign that inundated the court with over 400 letters of protest from MP’s, bishops, and human rights groups.

The judge, Michael Lever, QC, handed down probation and community service orders to the younger defendants: Gary Abdie, David Godfrey, Mark Love and Jonathan Moore, (all in their early 20’s), and to Craig Turner, aged 18.

He gave Norman Williams (33) a two-year suspended prison sentence. Terry Connell (55) received a nine-month suspended sentence, and was ordered to pay £ 500 towards the cost of the prosecution.

Both Williams and Connell, (who had sex with Turner when he was 17½, just six months below the gay age of consent), were forced to sign the Sex Offenders’ Register, which lumps them together with rapists and child sex abusers.

“While we were pleased the men were not jailed, none of them should have been dragged to court in the first place”, according to John Hunt of OutRage!, which played a leading role in the Bolton 7 defence campaign.

“These seven men were prosecuted for behaviour that, between heterosexuals, is not a crime. They would never have been arrested if their partners had been women.

“The Bolton-7 case demonstrates that the gay community remains vulnerable to police witch-hunts. These antiquated laws, which are still on the statute books, can be activated at any time. It is a warning against apathy and complacency. We should never assume that equality is inevitable or that an end to discrimination is just around the corner”, said Hunt.

“Five of the seven men were convicted under the same gross indecency law that was used to convict Oscar Wilde in 1895″, noted fellow OutRage! campaigner, Peter Tatchell. “Three were prosecuted under a buggery law that dates back to 1533.

“This prosecution is proof of the on-going homophobic bias of the legal system. It is time to abolish all laws that apply only to gay men, and all crimes without victims”, he said.

The most comprehensive and accurate reports on the Bolton 7 case have been written by OutRage! campaigner Peter Tatchell, and published in the February and March issues of Gay Times. A further extensive post-sentencing report on the case will appear in the April issue of Gay Times.

OutRage! is supporting and publicising an urgent appeal for donations to help pay for the defence campaign, and for the £ 500 costs awarded against Terry Connell. Please send your contribution to:

“Bolton 7 Defence Campaign”,
c/o Greater Manchester Lesbian & Gay Policing Initiative,
P.O. Box 100,
Manchester.
M22 4GZ

Bolton 7: Candlelit Protest at Westminster

100 Protestors Demand Repeal of Antiquated Antigay Laws

A hundred demonstrators gathered outside the Palace of Westminster at 7 p.m. on 23rd February, to protest at the prosecution of the ‘Bolton 7′ for consensual sex in the privacy of their own homes.

This prosecution, authorised personally by Dame Barbara Mills, head of the Crown Prosecution Service, has been estimated to have wasted half a million pounds of public money.

Terry Connell and Craig Turner with Chris from Stonewall, 56 KB

Although the defendants, convicted in January, escaped prison sentences owing to massive public support, (local, national, and international), they have still been scarred by the traumatic experience.

The protest was organised by Stonewall and supported by OutRage!, who assisted with publicising the event at very short notice.

After the peaceful demonstration, about 60 protestors crammed into a small room inside the Palace, where Angela Mason of Stonewall introduced several speakers:

Dr. Evan Harris, MP, (Lib. Dem.), who

  • stated that the State should have no rôle in people’s bedrooms in victimless situations,
  • drew parallels between the discrimination experienced by lesbians and gay men, and that experienced by ethnic and religious groups,
  • advised that now was the time to press not just for an equal age of consent, but for full equality;

Terry Connell and Craig Turner, (two of the defendants), who

  • acknowledged the enormous efforts of Alan Horsfall and Ray Gosling at the Bolton 7 Defence Campaign in Manchester;

and Peter Tatchell, who

  • exposed the abysmal record of over 30 MP’s who refused even to discuss the case, including two of the three Labour MP’s for Bolton.

OutRage! is supporting and publicising an urgent appeal for donations to help pay for the defence campaign, and for the £ 500 costs awarded against Terry Connell.

Please send your contribution to:

“Bolton 7 Defence Campaign”,
c/o Greater Manchester Lesbian & Gay Policing Initiative,
P.O. Box 100,
Manchester.
M22 4GZ

Bolton 7 – Protests grow louder

Seven Gay Men convicted for consenting sex in private

Protests are escalating against the conviction of seven men in Bolton, Greater Manchester, for consenting sex in the privacy of their own homes. The men will be sentenced on 20th February. The judge has warned that some may be jailed.

The Bolton 7 were convicted under the arcane ban on gay sex involving the presence of more than two persons, and three were found guilty of age-of-consent violations with a 17½-year-old.

These men have been prosecuted for victimless offences that apply only to gay men. None would have been arrested if their partners had been women.

The latest developments in the defence campaign are:

  • Dr. Evan Harris, MP, (Lib. Dem.), has tabled an Early Day Motion condemning the prosecution and calling for gay law reform;
  • the Bishops of Worcester and Edinburgh are urging that the men should not be jailed;
  • Brian Iddon, MP, (Lab., Bolton S.E.), has written to the judge asking for clemency and deploring the fact that two of the men have been forced to sign the Sex Offenders’ Register for victimless acts with a 17½-year-old;
  • the prosecution was referred to the highest level, and went ahead with the knowledge of the office of the Lord Chancellor, Lord Irvine, and the endorsement of the Director of the Crown Prosecution Service, Dame Barbara Mills;
  • since the Bolton 7 case received publicity, there has been a slanderous whispering campaign (by the police ???) to discredit the men and to justify police/CPS zealousness, with false allegations of pædophilia and mutilation;
  • the anger in the gay community has forced Greater Manchester police to abandon a new initiative against homophobic violence, which was due to have been launched in Bolton;
  • the prosecution of these men is seriously undermining police attempts to build better relations with the gay community, with many Manchester gay campaigners urging a withdrawal from the police liaison forum;
  • Amnesty International is investigating the case, with a view to adopting the men as ‘prisoners of conscience’ if they are imprisoned;
  • the men’s solicitor has received 300 letters, from human rights groups all over the world, condemning the trial.

Over 200 people attended a protest meeting at Manchester Town Hall on 26th January; and 150 joined a candlelit “Vigil for Justice” outside Bolton Crown Court on 31st January.

The prosecution is in defiance of last October’s ruling by the European Commission of Human Rights that Britain’s unequal age of consent is unlawful.

OutRage! is urging that letters of support, donations, and offers to help organise the Bolton 7 Defence Campaign be sent to the men’s solicitor:

Janet Cragg,
Robert Lizar Solicitors,
159, Princess Road,
Moss Side,
Manchester.
M14 4RE

Tel. 0161-226 2319
Fax. 0161-226 7985
Email: 106475.3436@compuserve.com

German Embassy pursues redress for gay holocaust victims

Meeting between OutRage! and German Embassy

The German Embassy in London has forwarded a report to the office of Chancellor Helmut Kohl in Bonn, setting out proposals to remedy the injustices suffered by gay holocaust victims.

The proposals were made by OutRage! during a meeting at the German Embassy with the First Counsellor for Legal and Consular Affairs, Herr Rainer Dobbelstein.

The Embassy has also forwarded to Bonn details from OutRage! of the Nazi doctors, Gerhard Schiedlausky and Carl Værnet, who medically abused gay prisoners at Buchenwald. (Dr. Værnet’s ‘experiments’ included castration and hormone implants.)

OutRage! has formally asked the German Government to track down these doctors and, if they are still alive, to bring them to trial on charges of ‘crimes against humanity’.

The OutRage! proposals in full are that the German Government should:

  • Apologise for the Nazi persecution of gay people (successive German governments have always refused to apologise).
  • Compensate gay holocaust survivors (gays are denied compensation on the grounds that they were ‘common criminals’).
  • Remedy the deficit in gay survivors’ pensions (the work of SS guards is added to their pension entitlement; but the years spent in the camps by gays are deducted from their pensions).
  • Put on trial the Nazi doctors involved in barbaric medical ‘experiments’ on gay concentration camp prisoners (none of the doctors were indicted at Nuremberg (Nürnberg) — or since).
  • Fund educational programmes in schools, and public memorials to commemorate gay people murdered by the Nazis (most public records of the holocaust obscure the antigay terror).

“Herr Dobbelstein seemed sympathetic to the idea of redress for gays who suffered in the holocaust”, said Huw Williams, who was part of the OutRage! delegation to the Embassy. “But he was defensive on the issues of educational programmes and pension rights, arguing that the climate of economic austerity made it difficult for the German Government to be as generous as it would like. He also claimed that holocaust memorials already mention the Nazi witch-hunts of gay people. Some do: but others don’t. Often the acknowledgement is a tiny, obscure reference that many visitors would never notice”.