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;