1999 April

Soho Bomb – 3 killed, scores injured

Two people were killed and more than 80 injured in a nail bomb blast at a gay pub in Soho, central London. A third died in hospital 24 hours later.

Police said the bomb had been placed next to the bar in the Admiral Duncan in Old Compton Street, exploding at around 1835 BST.

One witness described the scene as “absolute carnage”, with several people blown out of the pub into the street. No warning was given.

It was the third nail bomb attack in London in the past fortnight. Police are linking the explosions and said all the devices were of the same size and type.

A far-right splinter group, the White Wolves, later telephoned a BBC newsroom and claimed it was responsible for the Soho explosion.

The previous blasts, in Brixton and Brick Lane, appeared to target ethnic communities, and the White Wolves were one of several extreme right-wing groups that claimed they were behind those attacks.

Apart from the two dead, three hospitals in the centre of London reported 13 seriously hurt – including two who had lost limbs – and 68 with minor injuries.

Twenty one ambulances were called up, and the injured taken to University College, Guy’s and St Thomas’s Hospitals.

Ken Murphy, a motorcyle paramedic with the London Ambulance Service, was first on the scene.

He said there were numerous casualties, including two with “traumatic amputation of limbs”.

Scotland Yard’s Deputy Assistant Commisioner Alan Fry said he was anxious to hear from anyone acting suspiciously inside or in the vicinity of the Admiral Duncan pub. He added: “I would appeal to the public to remain vigilant. If you see any unattended package or bag, dial 999 and move away as soon as possible.”

Friends or relatives worried about the injured can telephone Scotland Yard’s casualty bureau on 020-78.34.77.77: but the line is very overloaded, be patient.

Injured at several hospitals and others have checked into their nearest hospital to home, hence confusion with numbers and delays in information. Casualty centre will log your details and data base will match casualty to you once located. You will be called as soon as this happens. Particular concern that some injured or dead may be foreign tourists and this will add to identification problems.

Anyone with information should contact the police, in confidence, on the anti-terrorist branch hotline on 0800-78.93.21.

If any witness particularly wishes to speak to a lesbian/gay police officer, members of the Lesbian and Gay Police Association will be available around the clock at the Police Mobile Command vehicle located in Soho Square.

The latest bomb in London is the third in two weeks: the first to kill, and the first indoors.

17 April — Just before 1730 BST a nail bomb exploded in Brixton, injuring 39 people, some seriously. Police say there was no warning.

Victims, including two children and a police officer, were wounded by flying shrapnel and shards of glass. Some were left with nails embedded in their bodies. A 23-month-old boy with had 2cm of a nail removed from his brain by surgeons at Great Ormond Street Hospital in a one-and-a-half-hour operation.

24 April — Police staged a reconstruction of the Brixton attack to encourage more witnesses to come forward. Soon afterwards, shortly before 1800 BST, six people were injured and buildings damaged by a second nail bomb, which exploded near Brick Lane, Shoreditch, in east London, the centre of the Bangladeshi community.

A motorist who discovered the device put it in the boot of his car and was attempting to drive to a police station when it exploded.

Police linked the incidents and say they are treating them as racist attacks. Two hours after the attack, a 999 call was made by someone purporting to be from Combat 18 claiming to be behind the bomb.

UK Home Secretary Jack Straw has led the condemnation of the bomb attack in Soho: “This is a terrible outrage committed by people with no humanity. I know that the police are devoting huge efforts to find the perpetrators. Our hearts go out to those injured, their families and friends. This awful crime reinforces the need for all of us to be vigilant.

“We are dealing with people who have warped minds, right-wing extremists who are obviously racist and homophobic. That we know. I know too that the British people will not be intimidated by this outrage, nor will the harmony between different minorities be disturbed by it.”

William Hague, Conservative leader: “[It's an] appalling and barbaric act. Our thoughts are with the victims and their families and friends and those involved in attending to them at this time.”

Paddy Ashdown, Liberal Democrat leader: “This horrific outrage, picking on a minority, poses a challenge to all of us. My first thoughts are with the injured and the families of those who died. I condemn this murderous and cowardly act that strikes at the heart of civilised and tolerant values.”

Sir Paul Condon, Metropolitan Police Commissioner: “It is now a time for calm, vigilance, and for the community to work together to defeat these cowards. Even though the hate is directed at minority communities, its evil affects all of us. These are cowardly hate devices designed to kill, main and injure – initially minority communities, but clearly they are totally indiscriminate as to who gets killed or hurt. They are an attack on us all and we must work together to catch these people as soon as possible.”

There was no clear indication yet as to who planted the bomb, he said, adding “it is clearly likely to be far-right extremists”. He confirmed that a BBC newsroom received a call on Friday evening saying far-right group the White Wolves had caused the explosion. But the call was described as sounding “garbled”, and he said the police were still open minded as to who was responsible. “It is now a time for calm, vigilance, and for the community to work together to defeat these cowards. Even though the hate is directed at minority communities, its evil affects all of us.”

Cardinal Basil Hume, Archbishop of Westminster: “I deplore this evil attack and the earlier attacks in Brick Lane and Brixton. It is deeply shocking that minority groups should apparently be targeted in this way. These outrageous acts must be condemned. My thoughts and prayers tonight are with the families and friends of the dead and injured.”

The Queen sent a message of sympathy to the victims; and a belated denunciation of bombing was obtained from the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Security has also been stepped up in Brighton, and Manchester’s Canal Street, which are both popular gay areas.

Gay businesses and pubs are asked to check their CCTV systems are fully functional. — Are date and time set to summer time? Is new tape in? Is lens wiped clean?

Vigilance in gay areas is advised, and people are warned to look out for suspicious people or unattended bags. Do not be embarrassed about false alarms – the LGBT community has every right to take extra precautions given the stated objectives of Combat 18.

Advising Gay and Lesbian Clients – A Guide for Lawyers

Review of “Advising Gay and Lesbian Clients – A Guide for Lawyers”

David Allison reviews a new textbook which covers all the issues on which a client may need advice, including discrimination and employment issues, arranging financial affairs and making wills, the family home, custody disputes, adopting children or otherwise creating them, access to social services such as housing and welfare benefits and the criminal law as it affects gay men.

A team of barristers, lawyers and experts in specific areas of the law that affect gays and lesbians have assembled a reference book that is likely to prove invaluable to all members of the legal profession who handle gay casework, criminal and civil.

This is no weighty volume destined to slumber indefinitely on the shelves of a law library. Into its 226 pages the compilers have packed a phenomenal amount of data that is eminently readable, even by those of us who have no legal training. Interpretation, though, should be left to professionals.

Eight chapters cover the history of the law since 1967, criminal law, employment rights, discrimination and many other facets of the law that impinge on our lives. Domestic and property matters are also covered as are parenting, fostering etc.. Details of how to ensure that your partner inherits when you die are provided, as are frameworks for cohabitation agreements for owner-occupiers. Little seems to have been left uncovered. One little nugget of information is that the Ecclesiastical Courts Jurisdiction Act 1860, recently used against Peter Tatchell in consequence of his temporarily sharing the Archbishop of Canterbury’s pulpit, can be used also against anyone found cruising in a churchyard.

The book is copiously annotated, fully sourced and cross-referenced, and takes a practical, non-political, advice-centred approach. At £ 35 it is hardly a snip, but considering the time that it will save lawyers in researching information, the cost will be quickly recovered. There is a thirty-day approval option for prospective purchasers in the EU.

The foreword (below) is attributed to The Rt. Hon Lord Justice Sedley Royal Courts of Justice, London, January 1999.

“The two chief claims of any system of law are –or ought to be– that it is certain and that it is just. The law affecting gay men and lesbians in Britain at present is neither. It is struggling to keep abreast of radically changing public and private moralities, sometimes accommodating change, sometimes resisting it.

“In this labile situation the present volume is not only a handbook of much- needed guidance to lawyers with gay or lesbian clients. It is a living record of how we are coping as a society with a legacy of prejudice and discrimination in a nascent culture of human rights. It makes this book a special kind of practice manual: one which openly sets out to steer the development of law and practice in a humane and non-discriminatory direction.

“The authors share a record of professional distinction and commitment which gives the book both breadth and depth. As well as affording practical guidance which cuts helpfully across the traditional categories of legal learning, their book makes an important addition to the legal literature of human rights.”

Published by Butterworth’s, ISBN: 0-406-90303-4, £ 34.95

Authors:

  • Martin Bowley, QC, President of the Bar Lesbian and Gay Group;
  • Laura Cox, QC;
  • Gill Butler, Evans, Butler and Wade, Vice-Chair of Stonewall;
  • Anne Barlow, Solicitor and Lecturer in Law, University of Aberystwyth;
  • Matthew Davies, Solicitor, Wilson & Co;
  • Wesley Gryk, Solicitor, Wesley Gryk;
  • Angus Hamilton, Solicitor, Hamiltons;
  • Peter Smith, Solicitor, Smith Braithwaite;
  • Mark Watson, Stonewall

Orders may be sent to: Butterworth’s,
35 Chancery Lane,
London.
WC2A 1EL
Tel. Customer services: 020-86.62.20.00
Fax: 020-86.62.20.12
(There are no postal charges to addresses within the UK.)

Lords oppose equality again

Lords oppose equality again , 13-April-1999
©1999 John Hunt/OutRage! London
This picture may be copied in the cause of furthering our aims, provided that the source is acknowledged.

Lords oppose equality again

The evil Baroness Young of Farnworth was successful in getting the House of Lords to kill the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill, which would have equalised the age of consent for heterosexual and homosexual activity.

At the end of a debate which started at tea-time on Tuesday, 13th April, peers divided at 11:55, voting on Lady Young’s amendment to postpone the Second Reading by six months. The result, announced at ten minutes after midnight, was 222 “Content”, and 146 “Not content”.

MP’s had voted for equality in January by 313 to 130: but the defeat in the House of Lords was expected, given their vote of 289 to 122 against equality on 22-July-1998. — Statisticians may find some small comfort in the fact that the current defeat of equal treatment is by a reduced majority: by 76 this year, (a ratio of 3:2 or 60%), but by 167 last year, (a ratio of 5:2 or 70%).

Baron Alli of Norbury, 34, who took his seat on 21-July-1998, (the day before last year’s vote), told how he was still young enough to remember being gay at the age of 16, in a speech that was described later in the debate by a peeress as an “extremely moving personal testament”. He related how he had to cope with terms of abuse: some of which had been used earlier in the debate by other “noble Lords”. During Lord Alli’s speech, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who was two rows in front with six other robed bishops, turned through 180° to watch him, and then turned back with a pronounced expression of distaste.

Lord Alli quoted from Pastor Martin Niemöller:
“First they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak out because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak out for me.”

Several speakers referred to a risible proposal to allow anal sex (for both sexes) only from 18, whilst permitting other forms of gay sex at 16. Others complained that Stonewall’s advertisement in “The Times”, which listed organisations in favour of equality, (the NSPCC, Save the Children, Barnado’s, NCH Action for Children, the BMA, Royal College of Nursing, Family Welfare Association, Naitonal Union of Teachers, and the House of Commons), had been placed without seeking permission from the bodies to publish their names; and queried whether the decision had been made by select committees, or by a vote of the entire membership.

An amusing contribution from Lord Rowallan, during which he admitted to having been a hippy in the 1960’s, earned him the epithet of “Lord Rowallan of San Francisco”. Apparently looking at Dr. Carey, he explained how, when young, “some of us played ‘Doctors and Nurses’, some of us played ‘Vicars and Tarts’”.

An estimated 200 protesters, some from as far as Leeds and Sheffield, braved the unseasonable hail, sleet, and biting wind to protest for a couple of hours outside Parliament. Some returned after the result was announced.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, together with the bishops of Manchester, Norwich, Southwell, and Winchester voted to continue discrimination. The bishops of Bath & Wells, Birmingham and Oxford voted for equality.

Note that the Labour Baroness Young of Old Scone supports equality, and has stated that the current legal position puts the U.K. in violation of the Human Rights Convention.
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Decima Exhibition: Art or Blasphemy?

The Catholic Media Office and Evangelical Alliance have written to complain about the exhibition “Was Jesus a Homosexual?” currently on show at London’s Decima Gallery.

Although the Catholic Media Office declined to send anyone to view the exhibition, the Evangelical Alliance sent a Free Presbyterian priest (the same extremist sect as the notorious Rev. Dr. Ian Paisley) on the evening of Saturday, 10th March, to protest against the exhibition.

While some of the exhibits apparently offend doctrinaire Christians with no sense of humour, the artists have obviously derived great satisfaction from producing their work. Items include a “brass rubbing” by Gilbert & George, and Prof. James Kirkup’s poem “The Love That Dares To Speak Its Name” which led in the 1970’s to the prosecution of “Gay News” by Mrs. Mary Whitehouse.

Evidence supporting the thesis that Jesus was gay was uncovered in 1958: as reported by OutRage! before the 1998 Lambeth Conference. The presbyterian priest, believing homosexuality to be a sin, considered this notion blasphemous.

Rart & Sete
“Fuc King Wan King Suc King Spun King” 1999 (detail)
Shane Wheatcroft
“The Sins of Saint Sebastian” 1999
Shane Wheatcroft
“Sleazus H Christ” 1999

The exhibition runs until Sunday, 18th April. The Gallery is at 3, Decima Studios, Decima Road, London SE1; tel/fax 020-74.03.60.20.

Sweden, Ecce Homo

The “Ecce Homo” exhibition by Swedish artist Elisabeth Ohlson last summer was held in Sweden’s most important cathedral, Uppsala.

The exhibition included a controversial painting of the Last Supper, depicting Jesus in high heels and the Apostles in drag: but was defended by Lutheran Archbishop Hammar, and indeed by all the Swedish bishops bar one.

When the Pope then cancelled an audience with the Archbishop, Hammar held a press conference, stating that “as a church leader, I’m not only an institution, I have a duty to push for development”.

Bank of Scotland stand zapped at Ideal Home Exhibition

Protesters with placards at Bank of Scotland stand. ©1999 John Hunt/OutRage! London

 N.B. The Bank of Scotland should not be confused with the Royal Bank of Scotland.

At 2:50 today, Saturday, 10th April, 8 gay activists from OutRage! descended upon the Bank of Scotland stand at London’s Daily Mail Ideal Home Exhibition, challenging staff to explain the massive joint business venture with the notorious US right-wing fundamentalist Dr. Pat Robertson, handing out leaflets to exhibition visitors, and displaying placards with the slogans:

  • Bank of Scotland in Bed with American Fascist
  • Stop Bank funding anti-women evangelist
  • No credit to bank that joins racist Robertson
  • Stop multi-billion deal with American homophobe
  • Under the deal, announced by the Bank of Scotland on 2nd March, a new direct banking subsidiary of the Bank of Scotland will be set up in the United States, 65% owned by the Bank of Scotland, and 25% owned by Robertson.

Robertson, founder of an organisation which calls itself the Christian Coalition, (which he describes as “people of faith working together to become the unified voice of families with children in middle-class America”), is on record as opposing almost every other group: women, Moslems, Hindus, gay men and lesbians, … Twenty-five percent of the profits of the new subsidiary will go straight to the campaign coffers of his fundamentalist fanatics.

The Bank acknowledge that “Robertson is well known for his personal views, particularly on abortion and homosexuality”, but initially attempted to maintain that “these views do not reflect in any way on our continuing commitment to providing the highest levels of service to all members of the community”. However, BoS Treasurer Gavin Masterton conceded in the Scottish Sunday Herald, (28th March), that profits from Robertson’s involvement in the venture will end up funding his ultra-right-wing campaigns.

The Church of Scotland has condemned the deal in very strong terms; and Action for Churches Together in Scotland (ACTS), representing nearly all Scotland’s 1.5 million church members and including all main denominations, was widely reported to have advised all member churches to withdraw accounts, (although their official position as of 17th April is that they have not yet taken this action, but neither have they ruled it out). Edinburgh City Council has passed a censure motion; and other Scottish local authorities, including Shetland Islands and East Lothian are expected to follow.

Despite this well-documented background, which led to £1 billion being wiped off BoS share values in March, staff at the stand denied all details of the scandal.

Robertson has shown in the past that he has little respect for regulations. His Christian Broadcasting Network was fined a large sum last year by the U.S. tax authorities for illegally funding his U.S. Presidential bid to the tune of 8.5 million dollars.

“People should know what their money is funding. Robertson is a politician who actively promotes racism, sexism and homophobia in a national political campaign”, said Gordon Lee, one of the protesters.

PRESS COPY: Simon Bebbington (ISF reporter) 0378-30.76.36
PHOTOS OF PROTEST: Jack Bagha (ISF photographer) 0370-48.29.09

Quotes from Robertson

“The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practise witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians.” — Fundraising letter, 1992.

“When I said during my presidential bid that I would only bring Christians and Jews into the government, I hit a firestorm. ‘What do you mean?’ the media challenged me. ‘You’re not going to bring atheists into the government? How dare you maintain that those who believe in the Judeo-Christian values are better qualified to govern America than Hindus and Muslims?’ My simple answer is, ‘Yes, they are.’” — Pat Robertson’s “The New World Order”, page 218.

(talking about apartheid South Africa) “I think ‘one man, one vote,’ just unrestricted democracy, would not be wise. There needs to be some kind of protection for the minority which the white people represent now, a minority, and they need and have a right to demand a protection of their rights.” — Pat Robertson, “The 700 Club”, 18-March-1992

To complain to the Bank of Scotland

To complain to the Bank to complain about this alliance with Pat Robertson ring their Head Office on 0131-442 7777, or Freephone 0500-31.31.11, (or 0800-43.52.14 for Bank of Scotland Freeway – a motor vehicle contract purchase scheme). Note that telephone calls may be recorded for security purposes and may be monitored under the Bank’s Quality Control procedures.

If you are not a BoS customer, insist on having your complaint registered as a concerned person or group. If you are a BoS customer, consider taking your business elsewhere and let the Head Office and your branch know you are considering this.

Note that on 22nd March the BoS appointed Jack Irvine, former Sun editor, and now a PR consultant specialising in crisis management, to defend the deal publicly for them. Irvine is well-known for his homophobic views. Writing last year in the Scottish Daily Mirror in response to the House of Commons vote to equalise the age of consent, he described gay men as “Slobbering queers who want to get their hands on 16 year-old boys’ bottoms”.

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