1999 February

Bolton 7 – Support Terry Connell’s Appeal

Call for support outside the Court of Appeal

The Bolton 7 have appealed against the verdicts and sentences handed out in February 1998. Five of the sentences were reduced on 11th February 1999: but the appeal of Terry Connell has been postponed until 10:30 Friday, 5th March, [Court 8, Court of Appeal, The Strand, London WC2].

Terry was sentenced to 9 months (suspended for two years), placed on the Sex Offenders’ Register, and also charged £ 500 costs. As he himself points out, if the laws of this country didn’t discriminate against us, he wouldn’t even have been charged. The Seven, who now all have criminal records, were prosecuted for consenting gay sex in the privacy of their own homes.

Following the prosecution, Terry has become a dedicated gay rights activist. It is because he believes so strongly that our discriminatory laws are unjust that he is pursuing this appeal: if necessary, to the House of Lords or the European Court of Human Rights, (who ruled in October 1997 that Britain’s unequal age of consent is unlawful).

The case has been supported by OutRage! and Stonewall, (together with MP’s, bishops, and Amnesty International U.K. ). Supporters and well-wishers are invited to join a peaceful protest outside the court from 10 a.m.. [Tube stations: Holborn / Chancery Lane / Temple]

John Hunt of OutRage! stated 12 months ago: “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”.

With Terry’s appeal just two weeks away, Hunt added: “The failure last summer of Ann Keen’s age-of-consent amendment to the Crime and Disorder Bill, (with opposition from the Lords expected again over the coming months), means that this is just as true today. Indeed, the Government’s allegedly well-intentioned but nonetheless ill-drafted and sadly misguided abuse-of-trust clauses in the current Bill will, if passed, send completely the wrong message both to the public and to future legislators.

“We must support Terry in his fight against discrimination. This appeal is not just about the age of consent, but also the unequal ‘privacy’ requirement: no more than two people present. Join the demonstration for the right to consensual sex in private”, Hunt urged.

Five of the Bolton 7 have sentences reduced

The Bolton Seven, convicted in January 1998 of gross indecency or buggery, had all been sentenced to probation or community service. On 11th-February-1999 the Court of Appeal cut the sentences because none of the five had previous convictions for sexual offences.

Probation orders for 12 months were substituted for Turner, Godfrey and Love, who had all been sentenced to 12 months’ probation and 100 hours’ community service. Moore had two years’ probation cut to a year; while Abdie’s 150-hour community service was replaced by a one-year conditional discharge.

Under the 1967 Sexual Offences Act, gay sex is illegal when more than two persons take part or are present.

The Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill, which aims to equalise the age of consent, is expected to reach the House of Lords in March or April. OutRage! and Stonewall are urging other gay groups and individuals to bring candles to a peaceful, dignified Vigil to support equality at Westminster, from 6-10 p.m. on the night of the Lords vote.

Royal Courts of Justice: 020-79.36.60.00

Terry is being represented by 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

Vigil for Equality outside the Lords

OutRage! plans “Vigil for Equality” outside the Lords

A huge candlelight “VIGIL FOR EQUALITY” is being organised by OutRage! outside Parliament from 6-10 p.m. on Tuesday, 13th April, when the House of Lords votes on the age of consent.

With placards emblazoned with the words “Equalise Consent! Abolish the Lords!” and “Let Young Gays Love Their Peers”, OutRage! is holding a peaceful, dignified protest to support equality. Stonewall have been invited to participate in the Vigil. Other gay groups and individuals are also urged to take part, and to bring candles.

“A big turnout is important to show the Lords and the Government that the gay community will not settle for anything less than equal treatment”, said Peter Tatchell of OutRage!.

It is expected that peers, led by Baroness Young of Farnworth, will again veto 16, overturning MPs’ recent 183 majority in favour of ending discrimination.

“The unelected House of Lords has no democratic mandate to reverse January’s 313 to 130 vote by elected MP’s in favour of equality”, said Tatchell. (Last July, the Lords voted 289 to 122 against equality.)

“The way the Lords have ridden roughshod over the will of elected MP’s highlights the democratic deficit in our parliamentary system. It demonstrates the urgency of replacing the Lords with an elected and accountable second chamber”, added Tatchell.

While supporting an equal age of consent, OutRage! opposes the clauses of the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill which penalise abuse of trust. They fail to give young people adequate protection against sexual abuse and unjustifiably criminalise consenting relationships.

OutRage! is calling on the Government and the House of Lords to scrap the criminalisation of consensual relations between adults and young people under 18 in their care. “Teachers and care workers should not be punished with up to two years’ jail for a genuine, loving relationship”, said Tatchell.

OutRage! also wants the Bill amended to require all schools to provide earlier, better quality sex education which, it argues, is the key to combating abuse. “Current sex education does not teach pupils how to deal with sex pests and sexual harassment. Young people need to be empowered with the skill and confidence to resist unwanted sexual advances and to report abuse if it occurs”, said Tatchell.

Update

The “Vigil for Equality” announced in February, is now being promoted additionally by the NUJ and NUS.

Baroness Young has tabled an amendment to the formal “That the Bill now be read a second time” motion for the Bill, replacing “now” with “this day six months”. — The “six months’ amendment” tactic is fairly well known in both Houses, and is a polite way of killing a bill by making it run out of time. If this is accepted there will not be enough time to pass the Bill before the end of the session, and the Bill will therefore fall.

Anyone wanting a copy of a poster or A5 flyer advertising the Vigil to copy and distribute should send email to jgh@intonet.co.uk. The files will be sent in RTF (Rich Text Format): guaranteed to be virus-free, since this format does not permit the use of macros.

Contrast with Other Countries

U.S.A. – “Discrimination or violence because of race or religion, ancestry or gender, disability or sexual orientation, is wrong, and it ought to be illegal. Therefore, I ask Congress to make the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and the Hate Crimes Prevention Act the law of the land.”  (From President Bill Clinton’s State of the Union address, 19-January-1999)

South Africa – Lesbians and gay men and their immigrant partners should be free to live together as family, the Cape High Court ruled, (12-February-1999). Judge Dennis Davis on behalf of a full bench stated that “The Constitution seeks to promote a society in which diversity of identity is respected and protected. The [Aliens Control Act] prefers certain forms of life partnership over others … this cannot be justified.”  The Government has now been given 12 months to recognise our relationships by amending the Aliens Control Act.

OutRage!: An Oral History

©1993 Steve Mayes

Review of Ian Lucas’s book on the history of OutRage! from 1990 to 1996

“The world looks different from this end of the telescope and this is what it looks like.” (Steve Mayes)

Ian Lucas’s “OutRage! An Oral History” chronicles the rise of queer direct action in nineties Britain in the words of the activists themselves. Lucas traces OutRage!’s origins in the sporadic protests against homophobia of the eighties, paying homage to its short-lived predecessors and sketching the hostile atmosphere which were the inspiration and reason for its birth. Individual accounts do not flinch from articulating the disputes over priorities and tactics, aims and methods, which were nonetheless to produce the most original and highest profile gay rights organisation ever.

A pandemonium of noise is what OutRage! have created in the straight media and the queer communities over the past decade. From the high-profile outing of MP’s and bishops to their attacks on hypocrisy in the Catholic Church or homophobia within the Labour Party, OutRage! campaigns have sparked bitter controversy and debate, massively increasing the public visibility of queer issues. Blowing whistles, banging drums and sporting T-shirts with in-yer-face slogans, these self-styled “Queers with Attitude” have had a profound effect on the culture and politics of the lesbian and gay communities and straight society.

Fierce, funny, camp, sexy, embarrassing but ultimately inspiring, here is the definitive account of the politics and personalities behind this notorious group.

“OutRage! has always sought to articulate a post-equality agenda which seeks to renegotiate the values, institutions and laws of straight culture, challenging not just homophobia but the authoritarian and puritanical nature of social institutions — our agenda is about transforming society, not conforming to it.” (Peter Tatchell)

“OutRage! An Oral History” by Ian Lucas is published by Cassell, London and New York, 1998; 244pp; ISBN=0304333581 (paperback); ISBN=0304333573 (hardback).

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