OutRage! is calling on the Home Secretary, Jack Straw, to respond to the Soho bombing by bringing in new laws to crack down on homophobic hate crimes.
“We want the Crime & Disorder Act 1998 amended to impose tougher sentences for violence against lesbians and gay men. Such legislation would be a permanent, positive memorial to those who were injured and killed in the Soho bomb blast”, said Peter Tatchell.
“A third of lesbians and gay men have been beaten up by queer-bashers because of their homosexuality.
“Last year, Labour vetoed an amendment to the Crime & Disorder Bill that would have extended the Bill’s tough new penalties for race hate crimes to similar prejudice-motivated attacks on lesbians and gays”.
The amendment last May was sponsored by MPs Richard Allan and Dr. Evan Harris.
“The Government’s refusal to support this amendment signalled that it was soft on antigay crime. We hope Jack Straw will, in the aftermath of the Soho atrocity, initiate new legislation against ALL forms of homophobic violence”, said Tatchell.
JACK STRAW CONDEMNED OVER “DIVIDE AND RULE” TACTICS
The Home Secretary, Jack Straw, has been condemned by OutRage! for having a “secret and exclusive” meeting on the Soho bombing with Stonewall. All other lesbian and gay community organisations were excluded from yesterday’s meeting (Saturday, 1st May).
“The Home Secretary is trying to divide and split the gay community at a time when we should be uniting to fight the threat posed by neo-Nazi terrorism”, said John Hunt of OutRage!. “His policy of secret consultations with one favoured group means that a representative cross-section of lesbian and gay opinion is not being heard. Stonewall has no mandate to speak on behalf of the whole gay community.”
POLICE CRITICISED FOR FAILURE TO WARN THE GAY PUBLIC
Sir Paul Condon has been accused of “complacency” over his failure to issue a public warning to the gay community that it could be hit by the bombers.
“The police warned some gay organisations and businesses, but they failed to warn the wider gay public. Before the Soho bombing, most gay people had no idea that gay bars were potential targets. If Sir Paul Condon had gone on national television to alert the gay community and announce that places like Old Compton Street were under police surveillance, the bombers may have feared detection and abandoned their plans”, said Hunt. “The limited police warning whispered to a few bar owners is reminiscent of icebergs, and the ‘Don’t die of ignorance’ advertisements. Another warning which dare not speak its name in public.”