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
Orders may be sent to: Butterworth’s,
35 Chancery Lane,
Tel. Customer services: 020-86.62.20.00
(There are no postal charges to addresses within the UK.)
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.
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)
“The Sins of Saint Sebastian” 1999
“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.
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”.
“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).
“Justin’s death is a tragedy. He was a sincere, warm-hearted person who was destroyed by homophobia, Christian fundamentalism, and a lack of support from fellow football players and managers”, according to Peter Tatchell of OutRage!, who knew Fashanu from the early 1980’s.
Tatchell recalls: “We met at the London gay nightclub ‘Heaven’ in 1982. I had been selected as the Labour candidate for Bermondsey, and he had recently transferred to Nottingham Forest for £ 1 million. We became close friends for the next ten years.
“Even though he was not open about being gay in the early 1980’s, we went out together to nightclubs, parties, family celebrations and public events where Justin was the guest of honour. He knew the press might be there. It was almost as if he was challenging the tabloids to expose him.
“In the early 80’s Justin often phoned me, and we frequently discussed the problems he was having at Nottingham Forest and his difficulties in coping with his homosexuality.
“The pros and cons of coming out were a frequent subject of conversation. Although I helped him come to terms with being gay, it was only a temporary respite. When his football career went on the slide, he turned to evangelical Christianity. In the long-term, that caused him immense grief.
“Justin was very distressed by his treatment at Nottingham Forest. He felt that Brian Clough treated him badly and never gave him proper support. Not surprisingly, his on-the-pitch peformance nose-dived.
“Becoming a born-again Christian screwed up his life. He became very confused and unhappy abour his sexuality. While publicly proclaiming Christian celibacy, he resorted to furtive gay sex. That made it impossible for him to have a stable gay relationship.
“He was devastated when his brother John publicly denounced him after he came out. Justin never got over that betrayal”.
Peter Tatchell documents the global threat of Islamic Fundamentalism
The New Dark Ages are already with us. For hundreds of millions of people in parts of the Middle-East, Africa and South-East Asia, the ascendancy of Islamic fundamentalism has ushered in an era of religious obscurantism and intolerance. The liberal, compassionate wing of Islam –although it still has large numbers of adherents– is increasingly being forced onto the defensive and eclipsed.
The fervour of this modern Muslim extremism echoes the zealotry of the original Dark Ages in mediæval Europe, when Christian fundamentalists excommunicated philosophers and scientists as heretics, tortured non-believers, drowned women as witches, and burned sodomites at the stake.
Several hundred years after the breakdown of theocracy and the beginning of the Enlightenment, few people would have thought it possible for clerical fascism to make a major comeback. But it has, and it’s spreading.
An 18 year old gay man, Neil Tubo, was executed in Saudi Arabia in 1995. His family say that his trial was a charade and claim he was framed on charges on raping two women.
The Bangladeshi writer, Taslima Nasrin, had to flee into exile in Sweden in 1994 after she was condemned to death by Muslim fundamentalists for advocating the revision of Islamic law to protect the rights of women. Issuing a fatwa against Nasrin, they offered a bounty to anyone who would kill her.
In neighbouring Pakistan, an illiterate 14-year-old boy, Salamat Masih, was sentenced to die in 1994 for allegedly writing words offensive to the prophet Mohammed on the wall of a mosque. Although saved by a last minute reprieve, he was forced to seek refuge in Germany after Islamicists threatened to hunt him down and kill him.
On the Philippines island of Mindanao, Muslim militia have been terrorising gay men — beating them up, ordering them to leave the region and threatening them with castration.
In 1995, Islamic extremists in Algeria assassinated the feminist leader, Nabila Diahnine. Previously they had killed the theatre director, Abdelkader Alloula. These are just two of the thousands who have been murdered by the fundamentalists over the last three years. Other victims include students and academics who refuse to study within a religious framework, and journalists who write the truth uncensored by clerical fanatics.
The Algerian Islamicists have a particular hatred of women who refuse to confirm to the Muslim tradition of subservience and modesty. Women who work instead of staying at home and waiting on their husbands, or who study at university rather than looking after children, risk death. So do those wearing make-up or short skirts and attending mixed schools or swimming pools. Any female behaviour deemed ‘scandalous’ by the militants can have lethal consequences, as 16-year-old Katia Bengana discovered. She was shot dead on her way home from school for refusing to wear a veil.
The common goal that unites Islamic fundamentalists the world over is the establishment of a religious state where every aspect of life is determined by the principles of the Koran and Muslim tradition. This means the creation of a state where This means the creation of a state where homosexuality is illegal and punishable by death.
Same-sex relationships are currently outlawed in 26 Islamic countries: Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bosnia, Iran, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen. Islam is also a significant and growing influence in Senegal, Nigeria, Chad, Somalia, Turkey, and the southern Philippines.
In only three Islamic-dominated nations are there no laws against homosexuality: Egypt, Indonesia and Iraq. Nevertheless, even in these countries public attitudes remain hostile and gay people are subjected to periodic victimisation.
Of the Islamic states that ban lesbian and gay sex, Iran, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen enforce the death penalty. Pakistan specifies two years to life imprisonment, plus flogging. In Malaysia the maximum sentence is 20 years and in the United Arab Emirates it’s 14. Bangladesh and Libya are considered fairly moderate in Islamic fundamentalist terms, with punishments of seven and five years’ jail respectively.
Iran is the most zealously homophobic Islamic country. Since 1980, when the fundamentalists came to power under the leadership of Ayatollah Khomeini, over 4,000 lesbians and gay men have been executed, according to estimates by the exiled Iranian homosexual rights group, Homan.
In the early 1980’s, for example, 70 people were executed after they attempted to set up a lesbian and gay organisation. Nearly 100 homosexuals were sentenced to death in 1992 following a raid on a private party.
It is notoriously difficult to be certain about the exact number of lesbians and gays killed because some executions take place in secret, and the relatives of those killed often try to cover up the true reason, due to the strong social stigma associated with homosexuality. Another factor preventing an accurate estimate is the regime’s resort to false allegations of homosexuality against political opponents, in a bid to discredit them. Trumped up charges of homosexuality were levelled against a Sunni Muslim leader, Dr. Ali Mozaffarian, who was executed in Shiraz in 1992.
The methods of killing lesbians and gays in Iran include: beheading with a sword, stoning to death, burning alive, and throwing from a mountain top or high building.
The death penalty applies not only to sodomy, but to repeated offences of lesser sexual acts such as mutual masturbation and body rubbing. The mere act of two people of the same sex lying naked together “without any necessity” is a crime punishable by up to 99 lashes. One man kissing another, even “without lust”, merits 60 lashes. These floggings can cause permanent injury to internal organs, severe bleeding and sometimes death.
The Iranian authorities stepped up their crusade against homosexuality in 1990, with a wave of public executions. On the first day of the new crackdown, three gay men were beheaded in a city square in Nahavand, and two women accused of lesbianism were stoned to death in Langrood. Justifying these killings, the Iranian Chief Justice, Morteza Moghtadai, declared: “The religious punishment for the despicable act of homosexuality is death for both parties”.
Simultaneously, Ayatollah Ali Khameni denounced “homosexuality, male and female”. He condemned Britain and the USA for promoting gay relationships, claiming the two countries had legalised marriages between people of the same sex. Homosexuality was, he said, a symptom of the decay and corruption of western culture.
His colleague, Ayatollah Musavi-Ardebili, demanded the strict enforcement of Islamic punishments for lesbian and gay behaviour. Describing the procedures for the execution of homosexuals, he told students at Tehran University: “They should seize him (or her), they should keep him standing, they should split him in two with a sword, they should either cut off his neck or they should split him from the head. … After he is dead, they bring logs, make a fire and place the corpse on the logs, set fire to it and burn it. Or it should be taken to the top of a mountain and thrown down. Then the parts of the corpse should be gathered together and burnt. Or they should dig a hole, make a fire in the hole and throw him alive into the fire.
“We do not have such punishments for other offences”, boasted the Ayatollah. “There cannot be the slightest degree of mercy or compassion. … Praise be to God.”
Lesbians and gay men living in countries dominated by the New Dark Ages of Islamic fundamentalism cannot afford the liberal luxury of tolerating religious fanaticism. For them, the politically correct arguments about ‘cultural sensitivity’ smack of surrender to the extremists who jeopardise their freedom and even their lives.
by Peter Tatchell
In November 1992, after 359 years, the Catholic Church finally admitted it was wrong to condemn Galileo as a heretic for arguing that the Earth was not the centre of the universe. How many centuries will it take before the Vatican acknowledges the equally historic wrong it has perpetrated against lesbians and gay men?
In medieval times, “abominable sodomites” were burnt alive at the stake on the orders of the Papal Inquisitors. As recently as the early nineteenth century, homosexuals were still being strung up on gallows in Britain with the blessing of Catholic leaders. This persecution isn’t over yet. The Vatican is still crucifying queers.
The latest Catechism, which sets out the basic doctrines of the Roman Church, was published in Britain in 1994. It is the first major revision of the Catechism since 1566. To the dismay of lesbians and gay men, it continues to reflect the prescientific ignorance and antihomosexual prejudice of the medieval era.
The new Catechism describes homosexual acts as a “grave depravity” and “intrinsically disordered”. It states that lesbian and gay relationships are “contrary to natural law … and do not proceed from genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved”.
Characterising the homosexual condition as “a trial” for most lesbians and gay men but never acknowledging prejudice as the reason, the Catechism concludes: “Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery … they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection”.
In other words, lesbians and gay men are flawed human beings who can redeem themselves only by renouncing the feelings that are integral to their sexual and emotional orientation.
The one concession to liberal opinion in the Catechism is that lesbians and gay men should be “accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity”. However, this apparent liberalism is immediately contradicted by the doctrine that only “unjust” discrimination is to be avoided, which implies that some forms of antigay discrimination are justifiable according to Catholic theology.
This was confirmed in a 1993 letter to the lesbian and gay rights group OutRage! from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. Written on behalf of Cardinal Hume, the letter expressed the Catholic Church’s support for discrimination against lesbians and gay men with regard to marriage and immigration rights, social housing, joint property, taxation, and welfare benefits. It turned down a request to endorse a reduction in the gay male age of consent to 16, to establish parity with heterosexuals. Indeed, there is no homosexual law reform which Cardinal Hume and his bishops feel able to support. They have given their official blessing to every key aspect of legal bias against lesbians and gay men.
However much the Catholic church may deny it, these prejudiced declarations offer theological legitimacy and a veneer of respectability to antigay hatred. They are the latest in a long line of antigay pronouncements by the Catholic Church.
In 1986, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, head of the Vatican’s Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (responsible for defining Roman Catholic doctrine and keeping Catholic clergy and theologians in line) issued a “Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons”. Ratzinger wrote that a homosexual orientation, even if the person is totally celibate, is a “tendency” toward an “intrinsic moral evil”. Moreover, a homosexual inclination is both an “objective disorder” and a “moral disorder”, which is “contrary to the creative wisdom of God”. “Special concern and pastoral attention should be directed towards those who have this condition, lest they be led to believe that the living out of this orientation in homosexual activity is a morally acceptable option. It is not.” Ratzinger’s 1986 Letter concludes that pastoral care for homosexual persons should include “the assistance of the psychological, sociological and medical sciences”, and that “all support should be withdrawn from any organisations which seek to undermine the teachings of the Church, which are ambigous about it, or which ignore it entirely”.
In July 1992, the Vatican issued a further proclamation authorised by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and by Pope John Paul II, entitled “Some Considerations Concerning the Catholic Response to Legislative Proposals on the Non-Discrimination of Homosexual Persons”.
This document was designed to mobilise Catholic opinion against equal rights legislation for lesbians and gay men. It describes homosexuality as an “objective disorder” and a “tendency ordered towards an intrinsic moral evil”. Rejecting the concept of homosexual “human rights”, it asserts there is “no right” to homosexuality; adding that the civil liberties of lesbians and gay men can be “legitimately limited for objectively disordered external conduct”.
While condemning “unjust” discrimination, the Vatican document says that some forms of antigay discrimination are “not unjust” and may even be “obligatory”: especially with regard to “the consignment of children to adoption or foster care, in employment of teachers or coaches, and in military recruitment”.
Most shocking of all, the 1992 document suggests that when lesbians and gay men demand civil rights, “neither the Church nor society should be surprised when … irrational and violent reactions increase”.
This implies that by asking for human rights, lesbians and gay men encourage homophobic prejudice and violence: we bring hatred upon ourselves, and are responsible for our own suffering. The Catholic Church, it seems, blames the victims of homophobia, not the perpetrators.
More recently, in February 1994, the Pope attacked the European Parliament’s support for the repeal of antigay legislation in member states. Condemning homosexuality as an “aberrant deviation”, he described proposals to remove discrimination as an “attack on the family” and accused Euro-MP’s of “inappropriately conferring an institutional value on deviant behaviour”.
This Vatican offensive against homosexual equality is threatening personal suffering worldwide. In Italy, Bologna City Council in 1993 introduced an equal opportunities policy to give homosexual couples access to municipal housing on the same basis as heterosexual partners.
The Catholic Church responded, with the backing of the neofascist MSI party, by announcing plans to mount a legal challenge. Cardinal Silvio Oddi condemned Bologna’s decision as “bestiality” and warned that “divine retribution” would fall upon the city.
Cardinal John O’Connor, in the United States, ordered that gay Catholics dying of Aids should be refused the last rites unless they repent of their “sin” and renounce their partners. The New York diocese has supported a ban on Irish Catholic lesbians and gay men marching in New York’s annual St. Patrick’s Day parade. It is opposing attempts by the city’s education authorities to encourage greater understanding and acceptance of homosexuals through the inclusion of nonjudgemental information about homosexual issues in the school curriculum.
In Nicaragua, Cardinal Obando y Bravo attacked homosexuality as “immoral” and publicly aligned the Catholic Church with the recriminalisation of lesbian and gay sexuality by President Chamorro’s right-wing UNO coalition. Article 204 of the new criminal code stipulates three years’ imprisonment for anyone who “induces, promotes, propagandises or practises in scandalous form concubinage between two people of the same sex”. This legislation penalises not only victimless homosexual behaviour, but also the advocacy of homosexual human rights and a homosexual lifestyle.
At the 1995 UN International Women’s Conference in Beijing, the Vatican opposed discussions on lesbian human rights and backed moves to block the participation of lesbian organisations and delegates.
The following year, a new Vatican handbook on education condemned homosexual relationships as a “disorder”, and urged Catholic parents to remove their children from sex education classes that discuss gay sexuality and teach safer sex.
Also in 1996, the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore called on its readers to vote against political candidates who back legal equality for lesbians and gays. Attacking a huge same-sex partnership ceremony in San Francisco where dozens of homosexual couples made declarations of commitment with the endorsement of Mayor Willie Brown, the newspaper said: “The citizen who … favours the election of a candidate formally committed to translating homosexual demands into law, cannot be without censure. Gay marriage fundamentally undermines the family model on which human civilisation was built … The legislature cannot be turned into a clerk for changing habits, least of all deviant trends.”
Here in Britain, at the height of the 1994 Parliamentary debate on the Age of Consent, Cardinal Hume declared that “homosexual genital acts, even between consenting adults, are morally wrong”. He urged Parliament to be “cautious”. Hume did not have to overtly oppose an equal age of consent for gay men. His condemnation of homosexual acts and his failure to come out in favour of equality at 16 were, by default, an endorsement of discrimination.
This stance is symptomatic of the Catholic Church’s support for a wide range of legislation in this country which renders lesbians and gay men second class citizens. Under a “segregationist” legal system which treats us differently and unequally compared with heterosexual people, we can be denied custody of our children, sacked from work, arrested for consenting sexual relations, and refused the right to marry the person we love. All these things can be done to us, with the full sanction of the law, and with the moral approval of the Catholic bishops, for no other reason than we happen to be homosexual.
Because of prejudice, over 30 per cent of all lesbians and gay men have been beaten up by queer-bashers, according to three surveys in the early 1990’s, including one funded by the Home Office. Other research shows that one in eight lesbian and gay teenagers are thrown out of their homes by hateful parents and one in five are driven to attempt suicide.
The Catholic Church pays lip-service to opposing this victimisation, without doing a single practical thing to challenge homophobia. Instead, it requires all Catholics to learn and follow the teachings of a Catechism which, whatever its intention, gives theological succour to bigots everywhere.
In March 1995, the then Bishop of London, Dr. David Hope, called an impromptu press conference where he announced that his sexuality was a “grey area”. He claimed that he had been forced to make this announcement because he was being pressured and intimidated by Peter Tatchell of the gay rights group OutRage!, who had written to him in December 1994, urging him to be open and honest about his sexuality.
Later, however, a very different story emerged. In an April 1995 interview with the Sunday Times journalist, Lesley White, the Bishop of London admitted that he did not declare his sexuality in response to the OutRage! letter. He had, after all, received our letter two months prior to his decision to go public. What precipitated the Bishop’s sudden coming out was an approach from Clifford Longley, the Religious Affairs correspondent of the Daily Telegraph. Dr. Hope says that Clifford Longley gave him the impression that he was going to be exposed by OutRage! In fact, we had no plans to out the Bishop of London. Dr. Hope was effectively bounced into coming out by a journalist who gave him false information.
If we had wanted to reveal Dr. Hope’s sexuality, we would have done so last November at General Synod when we named the other 10 Bishops. We didn’t out him because we felt that it would be far more effective if Dr. Hope could be persuaded to come out of his own free will.
The final straw for Dr. Hope was possibly an article in the Independent On Sunday on 12 March, the day before he publicly declared his sexuality. Entitled “Why Gays Are Called To The Church”, this article by Andrew Brown referred to the large number of gay clergy in the London diocese. In the next sentence it cited the Bishop of London and his past rôle in running St Stephen’s House, Oxford, which it described as “the campest of all theological colleges, where he was known as Ena the Cruel”. The innuendo and insinuation was obvious. It seems the Bishop decided to jump before he was pushed.
The following extract from an article in the “Telegraph” dated 14-March-1995 by Clifford Longley and Ben Fenton serves to illustrate. —
Dr. David Hope said he had been “deeply distressed” by the group’s activities and the apparent attempt by Mr. Peter Tatchell, a spokesman, to persuade him to admit to being homosexual.
He described the atmosphere that had oppressed him since Mr. Tatchell had suggested three months ago that the group had detailed information about his personal life as “seriously intimidatory”.
The 54-year-old bishop denied absolutely that he was homosexual, but acknowledged there was more “ambiguity” about his sexual orientation than with some people.
He said: “With regard to the question ‘Are you a gay bishop?’, the answer to this is that I have from the beginning chosen to live a single celibate life. This is a positive way of life for me.”
Dr. Hope’s extraordinary openness followed a series of conflicts involving leading clerics and homosexual issues.
OutRage! named 10 bishops as alleged homosexuals during last November’s General Synod. The Bishop of London was not one of them. Then at a private meeting on Jan 4, Mr. Tatchell handed him a letter urging him to “come out”.
Mr. Tatchell, 43, denied yesterday that the letter had been threatening. He said: “It was a friendly and amicable meeting.” He said he later received an answer to his letter which was also published by the bishop yesterday.
by Peter Tatchell
As Hollywood is pressured to choose between AIDS research and animal rights, Peter Tatchell argues that animal experiments are scientifically flawed and unethical.
AIDS awareness and animal rights are the two biggest Hollywood causes célèbres. Now stars are being told they can’t be in favour of both. AIDS activists claim there will be no progress in the fight against HIV without animal testing. They are demanding that Hollywood ditches its support for animal rights.
This has led a minority of celebrities, like singer Melissa Etheridge, to abandon their endorsement of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which campaigns against vivisection.
But the choice offered by AIDS activists is a false one. It is possible to support the rights of both animals and people with AIDS. Indeed, several dissident chapters of the AIDS activist organisation, ACT UP, backed the recent March For The Animals in Washington DC, as did the London-based queer rights group, OutRage!
In a letter read out at the March by rock star Chrissie Hynde, OutRage! declared: “We do not believe that the oppression of queer people can, or should, be remedied by the oppression of other peoples or species”.
The defenders of AIDS-related vivisection respond by arguing that finding a cure for HIV is so important that it justifies inflicting pain on animals. However, if cruelty is excusable for the greater good, then surely it would be also justifiable to experiment on humans. Obviously it is not!
The truth is that vivisection –not animal rights– is undermining the fight against AIDS. It is diverting resources away from more promising avenues of investigation. If we want to know how HIV affects humans, we need to study human physiology (not that of other species).
Confirmation that research findings with animals cannot be generalised to humans (and vice versa) is well established: there has been only one case of HIV causing AIDS-like illness in chimpanzees, and SIV (the monkey immune deficiency virus) doesn’t produce AIDS in people.
Common sense says that the most likely way to discover a vaccine and cure for HIV among humans is to research the interaction of HIV with human cells and the human immune system.
Since 1992, several of the world’s top scientists –including Professors Robin Weiss, Albert Sabine and Jonathan Weber– have warned that AIDS studies using animals are unlikely to be of much relevance to the conquest of HIV in people. They complain that the millions of pounds squandered on studies with other species would have been far more usefully spent on research with humans.
All the major advances in understanding HIV have been made without the need for vivisection. One of the very important insights into the way HIV penetrates the cells of the immune system was part-funded by an animal rights group (the Dr. Hadwen Trust). Using human cell cultures, this discovery at St. Mary’s Hospital, London, was made by researcher who are critical of vivisection on scientific grounds. Head of the research team, Professor Jonathan Weber, believes that their breakthrough may not have come about if, like many other scientists, they had focused on studies with non-human species.
ernatives to the use of animals in HIV experiments –such as human cell, tissue and organ cultures– increasingly offer fast and accurate results. Computer modelling has also made a big contribution to the development of new HIV treatments.
Once the provisional safety of a new anti-AIDS drug is ascertained, Professor Weber supports carefully controlled human volunteer trials. These can involve the administration of tiny, harmIess doses and the monitoring of their effects by means of blood samples, lasers, biopsies and ultrasound probes.
These techniques are a more reIiable indicator of a drug’s safety than experiments with animals. Tests with rats and mice, for example, failed to predict some of the adverse side effects of the two main HIV treatments, AZT and ddI.
Despite AIDS activists’ berating Hollywood stars with claims that animal research is necessary to save lives, there is not a single significant breakthrough in AIDS research that can be attributed to animal experimentation. Vivisection is, in fact, a disreputable, unethical pseudo-science that is hindering our understanding of AIDS and how to defeat it.
Have you ever felt short-changed by the Gay Business Association’s endless perpetuation of the so called “Pink Pound”?
It’s a seductive concept: the idea of a mass of issue-conscious, gay, lesbian and bisexual consumers, capable of (and willing to) exercise their purchasing power to the detriment of businesses that hurt queers … it’s certainly something we’d all like to believe in.
But just look, the ambivalent pattern of consumer spending behaviour within our community — it’s not exactly inspiring, is it?
For example, the apparent lack of anything more than passive queer concern over Time Out’s exposure of staff sexual abuse allegations against Compton’s of Soho manager, George Winchcole, makes a mockery out of the notion of a conscientious “pink pound”; it also casts doubt upon the existence of a genuine, gay, lesbian and bisexual “community”.
If these two things really existed, surely queers would have diverted their custom and expenditure away from a bar that has acquired such an unpleasant reputation.
Sure they would – but they haven’t. Compton’s has consistently been as packed as ever since the allegations first emerged, and the free queer press has (at best) treated the issue as a wholly peripheral news story — a sorry spectacle that illustrates the shameful extent to which they are tucked inside the bar owner’s pockets. The queer press only responded once the story became impossible to ignore. Without Time Out the story would have probably never seen the light of day.
It’s fucking disgraceful, and radical queers must not be afraid to look critically at things that emanate from the (ultimately self interested) GBA, instead of from queer subculture in its far broader sense.
The truth is the “pink pound” protagonists will sell us short every time in the name of a big, fat pink profit; and the wall of silence that initially surrounded the Compton’s fiasco illustrates this far better than words ever could.
OutRage! calls on the GBA to draw up a code of conduct opposing sexual harassment in the workplace (including an independent complaints procedure) and require all its member businesses to sign it.
We also call for the formation of a union for employees working in Gay Businesses to protect their interests against greedy, exploitative employers. We suggest BUGGER – the British Union for Good Gay Employees’ Rights.