Letter

Ministry of Sound should cancel Eminem’s appearance

Monday 4th February, 2001

James Palumbo,
Ministry of Sound,
103 Gaunt Street,
London SE1

Dear James,

I’m writing on behalf of OutRage!, the queer direct action group, to express our disappointment and anger at your decision to invite Eminem to the Ministry of Sound.

As you know, the lyrics on his latest album, Marshall Mathers, are widely acknowledged to be hostile and aggressive towards the lesbian and gay communities, especially towards gay men. Although some lines are ambiguous and have been defended as dark fantasies, others – such as “You faggots keep eggin me until I have you at knifepoint” and “I was put here to put fear in faggots” – leave no doubt as to the performer’s attitude.

Whilst we respect any artist’s right to express themselves, we believe that these violent images can lead to homophobic attacks. A high profile club such as the Ministry of Sound should not be fuelling the flames of prejudice and intolerance.

If an artist advocated violence against black or disabled people, would you invite him to play at your club? Why is it still socially acceptable to advocate attacks on queers?

As you have reported on your own website, Eminem’s records have been widely criticised and even banned in some parts of the UK and America.

We call on you to take a stand against prejudice by cancelling your invitation to Eminem, and by issuing a public statement deploring his
homophobic and misogynistic lyrics.

Yours sincerely,

Chris Morris
OutRage!

Reply to Jack Straw

270 days after the April Bomb, and after 1000 days of inaction by New Labour, OutRage! publishes a 10-point reply sent to the Home Secretary, demanding progress.

For the personal attention of:
The Rt. Hon. Jack Straw, MP,
Home Secretary.

Copy:
The Rt. Hon. Tony Blair, MP,
10, Downing Street.

Copy:
The Rt. Hon. Dr. Mowlam, MP,
Minister for the Cabinet Office.

Date:
19th December, 1999.

Dear Mr. Straw,

Government Action for Freedom from Discrimination

Thank you for your informative letter dated the 22nd November in response to the OutRage! fax sent on the 21st July to the Prime Minister, (from whom we have had no direct reply).

I shall relate this reply to the numbered questions in our original enquiry.

1. Legislative reforms

What legislative reforms on gay issues is the Government currently prepared to support?

Your letter restates the Government’s commitment to equalising the age of consent and to the repeal of Section 28, (though with no indication of any timescale); and refers to the Home Office recommendations on Sex Offences to be published next year, (also with no indication of timescale for the enactment of legislation).

  1. Is this the full extent of the proposed reform?
  2. Can you indicate timescales for Sex Offences legislation?
  3. What plans does the Government have to end discrimination against homosexuals in asylum, employment, housing, insurance, partnership and pension law and practice?

2. Section 28

By what legislative mechanism and in what timescale does the Government expect to honour its pledge to repeal Section 28?

Your letter does not mention that the repeal is the subject of Section 68 of the Local Government Bill, (which has already received its second reading).

  1. Given the delays and constitutional problems which have beset the equalisation of the age of consent, why has the Government included the repeal of §28 in a Bill introduced in the Lords, (in the knowledge that this not only gives the Lords a veto but also precludes application of the Parliament Act to ensure that the will of the Commons prevails)?
  2. If, as seems quite likely, the Lords successfully oppose the repeal of §28, does the Government intend to reintroduce a repeal Bill in the Commons in 2001, (with the consequence that, if again opposed in the Lords, repeal of §28 could not then occur until 2002)?
  3. Can you and the Prime Minister give your firm assurance that §28 will be repealed no later than 2002?

3. Sex Education

What is the Government’s intention with regard to placing a legal obligation on schools to provide honest, nonjudgemental information about gay issues (including but not limited to gay sexuality and gay ’safer sex’), rather than leaving these to the arbitrary whim of individual schools?

We fully agree with your assertion that sex education should be taught not in isolation, but integrated where relevant with the rest of the curriculum, (including PSHE, English, and History).

We will welcome receipt of the promised DfEE guidance document on bullying, (still awaited), and will study it with interest.

We are greatly disappointed, however, that the new PSHE guidelines, while obviously well-intentioned, surely pave the way to hell by being nonstatutory.

  1. We have a copy of the May-July document QCA/99/405, (Part 2 of which is a draft, nonstatutory framework for PSHE, which, despite repeated enumerations of acceptable diversity, avoids any mention of sexuality: e.g. for Key Stages 3 & 4, “national, regional, religious and ethnic identities within the UK and the need for mutual respect and understanding”). We should be grateful to receive a copy of the definitive document which –we assume from your letter– now exists.
  2. Is there any valid reason that it would not be possible to make these “guidelines” compulsory?
  3. Do you agree that making the “guidelines” compulsory would protect the interests of vulnerable lesbian and gay pupils, so that their needs would not be left to the discretion of individual schools and teachers?

4. Antigay violence

Why is the Government promoting antigay violence by avoiding equal action against it?

We note with interest your statement that courts can (optionally) pass higher sentences on perpetrators of homophobic attacks.

  1. Do you have any statistics which demonstrate the frequency with which the courts pass such higher sentences in practice?
  2. What research has the Home Office done on the issue of homophobic bias in the Criminal Justice System?
  3. Does the Government acknowledge that the problem of institutional homophobia is no different from that of institutional racism?
  4. Is the Government taking the same action to eradicate institutional homophobia from the court, prison and probation services as you mention for the police service?

5. Joined-up Government

Why is there no effective coordination between Government Departments at Ministerial level?

The opening paragraph of your letter states that we requested a coordinated Whitehall response. In fact we went further, lamenting that there had been no evidence of any coordination of policy between Government Departments on the removal of anti-L/G/B/T discrimination, and urging the appointment of a capable individual with sufficient “clout” to be effective. – This point was urged emphatically: yet your reply does not even allude to it.

  1. Do you and the Prime Minister agree that disparate policy on L/G/B/T issues between Government Departments is confusing for all?
  2. How do you propose to achieve effective coordination, if not as we suggested?

6. Delivering sensible, pragmatic, unembarrassed sex education

Can you confirm that Clare Short’s sound advice will be taken up by the Home Office and the DfEE, and be incorporated in future legislation?

Your mention of PSHE focuses on bullying, but carefully avoids discussing the content of sex education lessons.

  1. Will gay and lesbian sex be included on a par with heterosexual sex, and addressed in an honest, factual, nonjudgemental manner? This should include not only the biological mechanics, but also recognition of relationships, friendships, and family groupings. – I assume you are aware of the October ruling by the Law Lords (Fitzpatrick versus Sterling Housing Association) that gay relationships do constitute a family relationship.
  2. When will the Government act to ensure that HIV prevention in schools includes, as a mandatory requirement, information on safer sex for lesbian and gay pupils?

7. Representative Consultation

Could we please have your agreement that a broad cross-section of the L/G/B/T community will in future be included in all Government consultations on issues relating to sexuality and sexual equality?

We do not dispute your statement that the Home Office Sexual Offences Review currently in progress is “open and inclusive”. Our concern is generic, not confined to this one issue.

  1. Will you give your firm commitment that all future legislation affecting L/G/B/T issues will involve representative consultation with the L/G/B/T community at all stages, and not exclusive meetings with one privileged group to the exclusion of others?

8. Police Homophobia

Will you now bring forward legally obligatory regulations to root out homophobia in the police and other services, with the same vigour that racism is now to be eradicated?

We welcome your assurance of the Government’s desire to eradicate homophobia within the police, and the review of the selection process to remove discriminatory practices. We were particularly interested to learn of the Police (Conduct) Regulations 1999.

  1. Please could you send us a copy of the Police (Conduct) Regulations 1999?
  2. With regard to the equal opportunities policies which you state are now being pursued by the police, and given the fiasco of the European Court of Human Rights ruling in February 1998 that South West Trains were under no legal obligation to enforce their own policy of nondiscrimination: what guarantee is there that these policies will be implemented and enforceable?

9. West End Central / Ian Farmer / Bomb warning

No reassurance was obtained on specific issues regarding the police. … Your explanation on these three points would be appreciated.

Your letter omitted any reference to these items.

  1. What progress (if any) has been made in investigating the allegations of harassment and intimidation of lesbian and gay officers at Soho’s West End Central police station; and the arrest of Ian Farmer at London Pride (July 1998) and the subsequent mishandling of his complaint?
  2. Can you give your assurance that, in the event of any future threat (whether terrorist or other) to L/G/B/T citizens, appropriate public warnings will be given to the whole L/G/B/T community through the national media?

10. Action, not Words — Designated Minister for Gay Issues

We would urge you as a priority to address this disastrous deficiency by assigning responsibility to a competent, dynamic and committed individual, who is empowered to ‘kick ass’ and get things moving.

Your letter omitted any reference to this proposal: and our concern remains undiminished.

  1. If the electorate in New Zealand and Germany can vote transexual MP’s and mayors into office, the British Public can accept “out” gay ministers in the Cabinet, and the Government’s stated intention to abolish discrimination is genuine, what is the obstacle to appointing a coordinator to ensure that Government Departments progress consistently and uniformly towards this goal?

We should be most grateful to receive your point-by-point response to each specific question raised in this letter.

Thanking you in advance, I remain

Yours sincerely,

John Hunt.

Time to Apologise for 2000 Years of Christian Homophobia

An Open Letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury

Archbishop of Canterbury,
Lambeth Palace,
London SE1 7JU

14th December, 1999

Dear George Carey,

You and your church will shortly mark the Millennium by celebrating 2,000 years of Christianity. But many lesbians and gay men will not be celebrating with you. We will be mourning two millennia of Christian homophobia, which has inflicted terrible pain on homosexual people.

The church has incited prejudice, discrimination and violence against queers for 20 centuries.

Over the last 2,000 years, church homophobia has led to hundreds of millions of homosexuals worldwide being rejected and reviled by their families, driven to depression and suicide, discriminated against by antigay laws, and condemned to death for the ’sin’ of sodomy.

The church has never expressed any remorse for its persecution of queers. Your Millennium address is an opportunity to atone for the genocide inflicted on us. We ask you to express your sorrow for the church’s crimes against queer humanity, and to apologise to the lesbian and gay community.

Leviticus 20:13 demands that homosexuals be put to death. For over 1,800 years, the Christian churches followed that Biblical injunction, sponsoring a Homo Holocaust and organising the mass murder of queers.

We were stoned to death in antiquity, burned alive during the medieval era, and, in this country, hanged from gallows until the mid-nineteenth century.

This slaughter of sodomites was conducted in Britain by the church itself prior to the 1500’s, and thereafter by the State — with the official blessing of your predecessors, the Archbishops of Canterbury.

While the church no longer advocates the death penalty for homosexuals, it still preaches a gospel of sexual apartheid, arguing that homosexuality should not be accorded the same moral or legal status as heterosexuality.

This straight supremacist doctrine is used to justify the treatment of queers as second class citizens. Most Christians, including yourself, continue to support discrimination against gay people with regard to the age of consent, marriage, employment and fostering and adoption.

The time has come for Christian contrition. An apology is long overdue for the suffering inflicted on queers by the church.

Peter Tatchell
OutRage!

Letter from the Home Secretary in Reply to OutRage! Letter to Tony Blair

Annotated reply from Jack Straw to OutRage!’s letter to the Prime Minister of 21st July on Government Action following the Soho Bomb.

Home Secretary,
Queen Anne’s Gate,
London SW1H 9AT.

Our Ref: SEN/99 35/70/34
P0 17278/99

22nd November, 1999.

Thank you for your letter of 21 July to the Prime Minister which raises a number of issues affecting the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities. I am sorry you have had to wait so long for a reply, but you have asked for a co-ordinated Whitehall response, and that, of course takes time.

This is the fleeting sole reference to point 5: “Why is there no effective coordination between Government Departments at Ministerial level?”. This reply has taken four months: and there is not even the merest hint of any future coordination, let alone sustained.

Let me start by outlining some of the positive action this Government has taken in this area since coming to power in 1997. We are already taking action to overturn discriminatory law. We are upholding a long-standing commitment to give Parliament a free vote on lowering the homosexual age of consent, and will reintroduce age of consent legislation in the coming session to ensure that Parliament is able to take a conclusive view on this issue. This will be a free vote so that members of parliament can vote according to their conscience, but I am in no doubt as to the outcome.

Second, we are undertaking a review of sexual offences and penalties. The terms of reference of the review make it explicit that our aim is to recommend changes which make the sex offences laws coherent, fair and non-discriminatory in accordance with the ECHR and Human Rights Act; to provide protection from abuse and exploitation, especially to children and other vulnerable people; and to enable abusers to be appropriately punished.

Many other Governments are actively involved in the review, and are free to comment on potential areas of impact. You say Government does not consult on proposed legislation widely in the gay and lesbian community. This review is open and inclusive. Organisations representing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual interests have been invited to take part in the consultation process. Some are represented on the Steering Group, others have taken part in the conferences and seminars which have been organised, or sent submissions in evidence. Your own organisation has taken the opportunity to make an active contribution to the review by sending in a submission.

The full recommendations of the review will be published next year, and we will welcome any further contributions from Outrage! on the impact of the proposed changes in the law might make to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual community.

This is a reference to point 7: “Could we please have your agreement that a broad cross-section of the L/G/B/T community will in future be included in all Government consultations on issues relating to sexuality and sexual equality?”. However, the reply refers only to the Home Office Review of Sex Offences, and makes no mention of consultation on any other draft or proposed legislation.

Third, the Government recognises that Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988, which prohibits local authorities from promoting homosexuality by teaching or publishing material, has been widely perceived as discriminatory and takes the view that it serves no useful purpose. We have received many representations about the possibility of including the repeal in the draft Local Government (Organisation and Standards) Bill. We recognise the force of those arguments and will take them into account as we consider what changes to make to the draft Bill. However, we are also committed to a substantial legislative programme, and there are limits to the volume of legislation with which Parliament can deal at any one time.

Nevertheless, please rest assured that we committed to repealing Section 28 as soon as parliamentary time permits.

This is a partial response to point 2: “By what legislative mechanism and in what timescale does the Government expect to honour its pledge to repeal Section 28?”. Note the caveat in the reply: “as soon as parliamentary time permits”.

The opening paragraphs constitute a reply to point 1: “What legislative reforms on gay issues is the Government currently prepared to support?”. In summary, this appears to be:

  • Age of Consent — a “free vote”, (indicative of no strong commitment), twice passed by the Commons, and twice rejected by the Lords;
  • Home Office Sex Offences Review — recommendations due to be published in the year 2000, with no timescale yet indicated for enacted legislation;
  • Section 28 — the Government remains committed to repealing this, (but only when the heavy Parliamentary timetable permits).

Turning now to violence motivated by homophobia, we are determined to deal with the problems of homophobic crime, and we have been working with the Association of Chief Police Officers to develop guidelines for police forces in dealing with incidents involving the lesbian and gay community in order to ensure that they are policed in a fair and equitable way.

The London nail bombings were truly horrific, and I have made public my views on this terrible outrage. The law must protect everyone in society from violence, whatever the motivation for that violence. The criminal law already contains a wide range of powers to deal with violent behaviour and harassment. In addition, the perpetrator of any attack that results in death can be charged with murder or manslaughter, both of which carry a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

When passing sentence for a violent offence, the court must take into account all the circumstances of the offence before passing sentence. This includes any aggravating factors such as the motivation of the perpetrator in committing it. In other words, the court can pass a higher sentence against a defendant where the attack is motivated by the sexual orientation of the victim, whether real or perceived.

This is a partial response to point 4: “Why is the Government promoting antigay violence by avoiding equal action against it?”. We welcome the above concept of “guidelines for police forces” for dealing with homophobic incidents: but would like some assurance that they will be actively implemented by all police forces.

Numerous cases in recent years demonstrate that existing sentencing practice, while it may allow tougher sentencing in homophobic incidents, is not applied consistently and does not send the right message to actual and would-be thugs.

Sex education is rarely taught in isolation, and is normally part of a broader programme of Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE). The Government is committed to raising the status and profile of PSHE. A report from the Advisory Group on PSHE was published in May of this year, and the recommendations from the report were fed into the review of the National Curriculum. The Education Secretary, David Blunkett, has now announced his final decisions on the National Curriculum and these include a non-statutory framework for PSHE in both primary and secondary schools. The framework for secondary school pupils includes understanding the effects of stereotyping, prejudice, bullying and discrimination arising from whatever source; and how to challenge them assertively. It also includes understanding some of the cultural norms in society including the range of lifestyles and relationships.

Following consultation, the DfEE has recently issued its guidance in pupil attendance, behaviour, exclusion and reintegration. In that guidance, the Department restates its position about the unacceptability of all forms of bullying, including on the grounds of sexual orientation. I understand that DfEE are arranging to send you a copy of that guidance now that it has been published.

This is a partial response to point 3: “What is the Government’s intention with regard to placing a legal obligation on schools to provide honest, nonjudgemental information about gay issues (including but not limited to gay sexuality and gay ’safer sex’), rather than leaving these to the arbitrary whim of individual schools?”.

Finally, you raise the issue of homophobia in the police. The Police service as a visible and influential public service relies on the support of and active participation of the community. I believe that fair and non-discriminatory treatment of all staff and members of the public is vital if the service is to retain the trust and confidence of the public in its professionalism and integrity. The police service, supported by the Government, is actively pursuing equal opportunity policies within the service and seeks to encourage applications from the service from all under represented groups.

The Home Office is also reviewing the whole selection process with a view to removing all discriminatory practices from the selection procedures.

We have introduced new regulations through The Police (Conduct) Regulations 1999, which tightened up procedures for dealing with police misconduct and introduced a new code of conduct. The code stipulates among other matters that officers should treat members of the public and colleagues with courtesy and respect, avoiding abusive or deriding attitudes or behaviour. In particular, officers must avoid all forms of harassment, victimisation or unreasonable discrimination. This provision applies to all forms of unreasonable discrimination, including on the grounds of sexual orientation.

There is a range of sanctions which are available to deal with breaches of the code, including dismissal or the requirement to resign. Decisions about which sanction to apply will depend upon the merits of the case.

This is a partial response to point 8: “Will you now bring forward legally obligatory regulations to root out homophobia in the police and other services, with the same vigour that racism is now to be eradicated?”. OutRage! will be seeking details of this “code of conduct”, including to what extent it may be practicably enforceable. — Cf. the European Court of Human Rights ruling in February 1998 that the South West Trains were under no legal obligation to enforce their own policy of nondiscrimination.

The same week as this letter arrived we also received reports of a case where one or more maverick police officers are believed to have taken unofficial action against a minor offender which has resulted in his eviction, assault, and a break-in where his partner was attacked, bound, robbed, and threatened with murder.

Yours sincerely,

Jack Straw.

No response was included to point 9, which requested information about three specific instances of police homophobia:

  • against fellow officers at Soho’s West End Central police station;
  • the seemingly malicious arrest of Ian Farmer at London’s Pride March, July 1998;
  • the lack of any warning in April 1999 through the national media that bombs might target L/G/B/T communities.

Mugabe Arrest: GALZ Response to “Pink Paper” Article

Gay and Lesbian Community in Zimbabwe Delighted at Developments

Following the Pink Paper’s leading front page article, (Friday, 12th Nov.), GALZ, Gays and Lesbians in Zimbabwe, have written the following letter to remove any doubt about their position on the attempted arrest of President Mugabe on the 30th October and the resultant positive developments.

Note, as just one example, that: “Zimbabwe television (ZTV) is inviting representatives from GALZ to appear as panelists on a discussion programme next Tuesday. The topic is the incident in London and other issues. This is a first and it is a major opportunity for us to be heard. The invitation comes in direct response to the OutRage! incident.”

GALZ LETTER TO PINK PAPER

THE EDITOR,
The Pink Paper

12th November, 1999.

The article “Gays attacked in Zimbabwe after OutRage! stunt” dangerously misrepresents the situation it sparked in Zimbabwe. Gross distortions of this nature, especially by the foreign press, play straight into the hands of our persecutors who delight in painting gays and lesbians as liars and alarmists. It is difficult enough to be lesbian and gay in this country without the foreign press feeding fuel to our enemies.

The GALZ ’state of emergency’ was called in reponse to a single incident involving attacks on two gay men, not ‘a number of gay men’. It was isolated and not part of ‘a series of attacks,’ as the Pink Paper claims. The statement that “there were other reports of attacks on gay men by the police across Zimbabwe” is a total fabrication and certainly did not emanate from this office. Furthermore, nobody was sexually assaulted.

Our state of emergency meant that those who were in the public eye were asked to stay in phone contact with each other until the temperature cooled down. The emergency was called off when it was understood that this incident did not constitute the start of another gay-bashing campaign.

Violence against lesbians and gay men is increasing in urban areas as a general trend. But the ‘damage’ to the lesbian and gay community in this country stems directly from President Mugabe’s antigay rhetoric which has had a devastating effect on us: the blame for the violence must rest squarely on the shoulders of Mugabe and his lackeys, not on the independent actions of foreign groups.

Human Rights defenders tire of being blamed for violence which they have not committed. The OutRage! incident simply brought into sharp focus the human rights abuses of the Harare regime. Just because it would be dangerous for such style of action to take place in Zimbabwe does not mean that it is not allowable in an open and democratic society. Remember too that GALZ was blamed by the authorities and the state-controlled media for causing the violence during the 1995 and 1996 Zimbabwe International Book Fairs even though it was this organisation that was the victim of threats, and thugs trashed the GALZ stand. People who speak out against direct action and plead for gradual change talk the language of the abuser. Generally, people do not give over social space unless forced or if they see it is in their own self interest to do so.

A black lesbian was beaten up a couple of days ago not as a result of the OutRage! ’stunt’ but because she had been seen on television giving evidence to the constitutional commission. Gay men are sometimes beaten up outside nightclubs because people here have been taught to hate gays and gangsters have been given licence to taunt and harass us.

The white gay community would have been the least affected by the action of OutRage!. White gay men are not the target of gay bashers; they are targets of blackmailers. GALZ is unaware of the human rights activities of Paranoid ‘Rufus’.

Many Zimbabweans have relished the humiliation of the president in London. They have derived immense satisfaction from seeing the Almighty on high brought low. The President’s cage was seriously rattled and he is still smarting with indignation. His subsequent rantings that it was a plot orchestrated by Gay Gangster Blair and MI5 have been met with appropriate scorn and ridicule.

The OutRage! incident sparked a diplomatic row but only in the sense of helping a smouldering situation burst into flames. It put into perspective the abuse of lesbians and gay men within the context of broader human rights abuses in this country. For too long, our government has dined out on international declarations and covenants to which it is a signatory. The chickens have come home to roost and the Commonwealth and other international bodies are now calling for genuine compliance with human rights treaties and not mere rhetorical compliance. If our political leaders do not make a genuine effort to uphold the liberties of our people, they can only expect local and international pressure to intensify. Torture and genocide are serious matters for the attention of the international community; they are not minor domestic matters.

As I pointed out in my telephone conversation with David Northmore, the London incident has led to a number of positive outcomes. Even as I write, Zimbabwe television (ZTV) is inviting representatives from GALZ to appear as panelists on a discussion programme next Tuesday. The topic is the incident in London and other issues. This is a first and it is a major opportunity for us to be heard. The invitation comes in direct response to the OutRage! incident.

A reporter from the Daily Mail is here at the moment interviewing three black members of GALZ as part of her research for an in-depth article about their lives. All the local newspapers, even the state-controlled media, are now falling over themselves to print our stories. We are being heard for the first time and the old rhetoric of unAfrican, unBiblical is being drowned by a human rights chorus shouting accountability. In the Thursday, 11th November edition of the Financial Gazette, which normally passes over gay issues, there are no less than nine articles, letters and features on issues of gay and general human rights as well as the deteriorating relationship between Britain and Zimbabwe. In total, since Sunday, 31st October, GALZ has collected no less than 58 newspaper articles on the subject of lesbian and gay issues and the diplomatic incident in London. It has also sparked a heated debate – people are talking.

The action of OutRage! has strengthened our credibility within the general human rights movement in Zimbabwe. Tatchell mentioned the torture of the journalists and the genocide in Matabeleland. GALZ’s reaction to these comments have been heard, acknowledged and won us friends.

Publicity is our best secret weapon. The recent limelight comes directly in the wake of the OutRage! action and, for that, we thank Peter Tatchell and his crew.

Yours sincerely,

Keith Goddard,
Programmes Manager, GALZ.

PM urged to expell Zimbabwe from Commonwealth

The Prime Minister,
10, Downing Street.

9th November, 1999.

Dear Tony Blair,

COMMONWEALTH SUMMIT 1999
HOMOPHOBIC PERSECUTION & OTHER HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES IN ZIMBABWE

I am writing on behalf of the gay human rights group OutRage! to request that, during the Commonwealth Summit in South Africa, you initiate moves to expel Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth and to suspend British aid to Zimbabwe, until such time as Robert Mugabe’s government halts its attacks on the gay community and other abuses of human rights.

The expulsion of Zimbabwe is recommended by the prestigious London-based Foreign Policy Centre, of which you are a patron.

The Zimbabwean government has long flouted international human rights conventions: from the massacres in Matabeleland in the 1980s, to the ban on gay participation in the Zimbabwe International Book Fair in 1995 and the torture of journalists Ray Choto and Mark Chavunduka earlier this year.

President Mugabe’s government stands accused of murder, torture, censorship, detention without trial, bans on strikes and protests, and the violent suppression of peaceful dissent.

The President has denounced lesbians and gays as “sexual perverts” and “beasts”, who are “worse than dogs and pigs”. Rejecting calls for homosexual human rights, he said: “We don’t believe they have any rights at all”. He has warned gay people to leave Zimbabwe “voluntarily” or face “dire consequences”.

Since his inflammatory comments, homosexuals in Zimbabwe have been beaten, arrested, framed on trumped up charges, fire-bombed and threatened with death.

Your government is committed to an ethical foreign policy. We ask you to give this policy effect by cooperating with other Commonwealth leaders to isolate Zimbabwe and deny President Mugabe the trade and aid on which his government depends for its survival.

Yours sincerely,

Peter Tatchell.
OutRage!

Dr. Værnet – British Military Collusion?

What rôle did the British military authorities play in the escape from justice after WWII of Nazi war criminal Dr. Carl Peter Værnet, perpetrator of gruesome experiments on gay prisoners in the Buchenwald and Neuengamme concentration camps?

John Harding
HB (A) MOD
Historical Records Branch
MINISTRY OF DEFENCE
London SW1

19 August 1999

Dear John Harding,

NAZI WAR CRIMINAL – SS Sturmbannführer DR. VÆRNET
I am writing to request your help to discover how and why the Danish Nazi doctor, Carl Peter Værnet, was released from the jurisdiction of the British military authorities after the end of the Second World War, and the reason the British military authorities never sought to put him on trial for war crimes.

Dr. Værnet was a Danish citizen, born on 28 April 1893. He served in SS, with the rank of Sturmbannführer (variously listed as SS-Runen – SS 1792 and SS 1809). He is recorded as having worked under the personal directions of the head of Gestapo, Heinrich Himmler, conducting barbaric medical experiments -including castration and forced hormonal implants- on gay concentration camp prisoners at Buchenwald and Neuengamme.

Dr. Værnet’s role in the medical abuse and deaths of gay prisoners is documented in the archives at the International Tracing Service at Arolsen (example: ITS Arolsen, book 36, folder 405), and at the Berlin Document Centre.

Mention of his experiments is made in a report written soon after the liberation of Buchenwald by Eugen Kogon for the US Army Psychological Warfare Division.

His medical malpractices involving gay inmates are also cited in the books The Pink Triangle by Richard Plant (Mainstream Publishing, Edinburgh 1987) and Hidden Holocaust? by Dr. Günter Grau (Cassell, London 1995).

Dr. Værnet’s gruesome experiments on gay internees are further reported in the German documentary film Wir hatten ein grosses ‘A’ am Bein (We Were Marked With A Big ‘A’), directed by Elke Jeonrond and Joseph Weishaupt, and made for NDR. in 1991 by Mediengruppe Schwabing Filmproduktion.

According to my information, at the end of the war Dr. Værnet was captured by the British Army and interned in the British-run Alsgade Skole prisoner-of-war camp in Copenhagen.

On 29 May 1945, the chairman of the Danish Medical Association sent the Danish Ministry of Justice an affidavit signed by a Danish police officer who had been incarcerated in Buchenwald. This affidavit identified Værnet as having been a serving SS officer involved in war crimes. Were the British military authorities aware of this affidavit and other allegations of war crimes against Dr. Værnet?

In the autumn of 1945, the British military authorities handed over Dr. Værnet to the Danish authorities. Precisely what these authorities did with him is uncertain. Why was he handed over?

It is known that Dr. Værnet was eventually transferred to a hospital, on the grounds that he was allegedly suffering from a heart complaint (which may have been fictional in order to facilitate his release from detention). When did this transfer take place? Did the British military authorities agree the transfer?

Dr. Værnet is said to have told fellow doctors that his heart trouble could only be treated in Sweden. Astonishingly, despite being accused of war crimes, Dr. Værnet was allowed by the Danish (and British?) authorities to travel to Sweden.

In Sweden, he contacted the Nazi escape network, which spirited him away to Argentina, probably in late 1946 or early 1947.

On 19 November 1947, the Copenhagen newspaper, Berlingske Tidende, carried a letter from a Danish exile living in Argentina which reported that Dr. Værnet was working in the Buenos Aires health department. He remained living there openly until his death in 1965.

Could you please investigate:

  1. Why the British military authorities fail to put Dr. Værnet on trial on charges of war crimes, alongside other Nazi doctors?
  2. For what reason did the British military authorities release Dr. Værnet -a wanted war criminal- from their jurisdiction?
  3. Into whose custody, and under what conditions, did the British military authorities release Dr. Værnet?
  4. Did the British military authorities play any rôle in authorising Dr. Værnet’s transfer to a Danish hospital and his trip to Sweden?

Your help in answering these questions would be very much appreciated.

Yours with thanks,

Peter Tatchell

Dr. Værnet – Danish Correspondence

Recent correspondence between the Danish authorities (Department of Justice and National Archives) and OutRage! on tracing the Nazi war criminal Dr. Carl Peter Vaernet.

Letter from the Danish Ministry of Justice, 6-July-1999

MINISTRY OF JUSTICE
Civil and Police Department
Police Division
DK 1216 KØBENHAVN K., DENMARK

OutRage!

6 JULI 1999

Our ref. 1999-945-1188

By letter of 16 March 1998 OutRage! requested the help of the Danish Government to discover the fate of Carl Peter Værnet, a Nazi doctor who fled to Argentina after the Second World War. The Prime Minister forwarded the request by letter of 8 June 1999 to the Ministry of Justice.

The Ministry of Justice can inform you that the records from that period are kept in the Danish National Archives (Rigsarkivet) and in provincial archives and the ministry is therefore not in possession of any information about Carl Peter Værnet. The Ministry of Justice has today forwarded your letter to Rigsarkivet, Rigsdagsgården 9, 1218 København K., for its consideration.

Attention is drawn to the fact that in certain circumstances, inter alia regarding information relating to the private conditions of individual persons and to criminal justice cases, the expiry of the time-limit as to when access can be granted is 80 years. However, under certain circumstances this time-limit can be exempted from. Requests for exemption should be directed to the Archives concerned.

Best regards,

Mogens Kjærgaard Møller

Reply to the Danish Ministry of Justice, 9-July-1999

Mogens Kjærgaard Møller
Police Division
Civil & Police Department
MINISTRY OF JUSTICE
DK 1216 København K
Denmark

9 July 1999

HUB00244 Your Ref: 1999-945-1188

Dear Mogens Kjærgaard Møller

Greetings!

DR. CARL VÆRNET – WAR CRIMES & CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY
Thanks for your letter dated 6 July 1999. I appreciate your kindness in replying in English. My apologies for being unable to write to you in Danish.

While OutRage! is grateful for your response, we are very concerned at the length of time it has taken to reply to our letter of 16 March 1998 (more than a year!), and at the unsatisfactory nature of the reply.

With respect, it is not adequate to refer us to the Danish National Archives. Our request is not a matter for archivists or historians. It concerns the bringing to justice of a Nazi doctor who, on the known evidence, perpetrated war crimes and crimes against humanity, contrary to international law. Other Nazi doctors who committed similar barbarisms were put on trial at Nuremberg (Nürnberg) and either sentenced to death or to long periods of imprisonment.

The Danish government has a moral and legal obligation to investigate and uncover the full truth about Dr. Værnet’s alleged involvement in war crimes and crimes against humanity. It also has a duty to investigate how Dr. Værnet escaped trial and punishment at the end of the 1939-45 war, including how he managed to evade justice and who aided his escape to Argentina.

None of these questions, raised in our letter of 16 March 1998 to the Danish Prime Minister, have been answered.

I would therefore ask you to reconsider our three-page letter of 16 March 1998 (a copy follows). Please reply to all 7 questions on page three. Thank you and best wishes.

Yours sincerely,

Peter Tatchell

Letter from the Danish National Archives, 15-July-1999

Statens Arkiver Rigsarkivet

Lokaltelefon Reference Journalnummer Dato
MM-JPN 1999-6131.1331 1999-07-15

OutRage!

The Danish National Archives (the Rigsarkivet) has 6 July 1999 received your letter of 16 March 1998 concerning information on the Nazi doctor Carl Peter Væmet. As you will know from the reply by the Ministry of Justice your letter was forwarded to the Rigsarkivet.

In reply we can inform you that the Rigsarkivet cannot undertake investigation of the kind involved. Normally people visit our reading room, where the staff help to examine the records. But in this case, according to the Danish Archival Act, an exemption from the 80 years limit of access, is a first condition for any examination of the documents on Væmet.

However, we have identified relevant files among the records delivered from the Ministry of Justice, the Rigsadvokaten (the Danish State’s solicitor) and the the Rigspolitiet (the State Police), but -still according to the Archival Act- the Rigsarkivet is not allowed to grant an exemption from the limit of access without permission from the mentioned authorities. Before we ask these authorities for consent as to an exemption, we need some more information on your purpose of the investigation.

For further information on the Rigsarkivet we suggest you to visit our website (http://www.sa.dk) which also includes an English version. [It appears that the only English on this site is the title. -- 18th August, OutRage!]

Yours sincerely,

Margit Mogensen
Archivist
The Public Department

Reply to the Danish National Archives, 17-July-1999

Archivist
The Public Department
Statens Arkiver Rigsarkivet

17 July 1999

Your Ref: MM-JPN Journalnummer 1999-6131.1331

Dear Margit Mogensen,

DR. CARL VÆRNET — WAR CRIMES & CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY
Thanks for your letter dated 15 July 1999. I appreciate your kindness in replying in English. My apologies for being unable to write to you in Danish.

While OutRage! is grateful for your response, the investigation of the Nazi doctor, Carl Værnet, is not my responsibility or that of the Rigsarkivet. It is the responsibility of the Ministry of Justice to investigate criminal acts.

It is alleged that Dr. Værnet, a Danish citizen, perpetrated war crimes and crimes against humanity in violation of international law, during the Nazi era.

He stands accused of medically abusing, torturing and murdering homosexual prisoners interned in Nazi-run concentration camps. Other Nazi doctors who committed similar barbarisms were put on trial at Nuremberg and sentenced to death or imprisonment.

My request is for the opening of a criminal investigation, with a view to the prosecution of Dr. Værnet (if he is still alive).

The Ministry of Justice has a moral and legal obligation to investigate and uncover the full truth about Dr. Værnet’s alleged involvement in war crimes and crimes against humanity.

It also has a duty to investigate and explain how Dr. Værnet escaped Danish jurisdiction after the war, and to bring to trial those Danish citizens who aided the escape of this alleged war criminal.

I would therefore respectfully request that you refer my letter back to the Ministry of Justice, and that it replies in full to the 7 questions set out on page three of my letter of 16 March 1998 to the Danish Prime Minister. Thank you.

Yours sincerely,

Peter Tatchell.

Letter to the Danish Ministry of Justice, 17-July-1999

Police Division
Civil and Police Department
MINISTRY OF JUSTICE
Denmark

17 July 1999

Your Ref: HUB00244 1999-945-1188

Dear Mogens Kjærgaard Møller,

Further to my fax of 9 July 1999, there follows a copy of the letter I have faxed today to Margit Mogensen at the Statens Arkiver Rigsarkivet.

I would take this opportunity to reiterate that what I am seeking is a criminal investigation into:

allegations that Dr. Værnet committed war crimes and crimes against humanity, with a view to his prosecution (if he is still alive);
allegations that Danish citizens aided and abetted Dr. Værnet’s escape to Argentina, with a view to those responsible being prosecuted (if they are still alive).
These are matters that can only be dealt with by the Ministry of Justice.

I would be grateful to receive your assurance that a criminal investigation will now be opened, and that you will give me a copy of its findings and decisions in due course.

Thank you for your continuing assistance.

Warmest wishes,

Peter Tatchell.

OutRage! invites Blair to “kick ass”

Following receipt of lacklustre replies from the Home Office and the Department of Education to letters sent in the wake of the Soho bombing, OutRage! has written to the Prime Minister, inviting him to effect coordination and instill a sense of urgency by assigning responsibility to a competent, dynamic and committed individual, who is empowered to ‘kick ass’ and get things moving.

For the personal attention of:

The Rt. Hon. Tony Blair, MP,
10, Downing Street.
CC: Hilary Armstrong, Min. for Local Gov.t and Housing;
Tony Banks, Minister for Sport;
David Blunkett, S.S. for Education & Employment;
Dr. Jack Cunningham, Minister for the Cabinet Office;
Dr. Mo Mowlam, S.S. for Northern Ireland;
Clare Short, S.S. for International Development;
Chris Smith, S.S. for Culture, Media & Sport;
Jack Straw, Home Secretary.
Date: 21st July, 1999.

Dear Mr. Blair,

Government Action for Freedom from Discrimination

Following the Soho bombing, OutRage! wrote to Jack Straw (3rd May) and David Blunkett (25th May), appealing for urgent Government action to eradicate homophobic discrimination.

You may recall your own message to London’s Pride celebrations in 1997, read by Chris Smith and televised, in which you stated: “The New Labour Government wants to build a New Britain, free from discrimination. I want to assure you of my commitment to achieving such a free society. … Let us be proud of what we are, of who we are, and of what we can achieve in the months to come for equality and justice for us all”. — I was therefore greatly surprised to be told by your office last week that, since your “message of support” to this year’s Pride was classed as a personal communication, the text could not be released! However, I have since learned with dismay that, despite asserting that “all decent-minded people believe … that members of Britain’s minority communities have the right to live full lives, free from prejudice, and without fear of attack”, it makes no mention of legislative reform in any area.

1 — What legislative reforms on gay issues is the Government currently prepared to support?

Reply from the DfEE

Of the two replies, that from the DfEE (6th July) has the greater cosmetic comfort factor: reaffirming that Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988 has never applied to the governing bodies or staff of schools and that schools can cover gay and lesbian issues if they choose to do so, (as stated in the previous administration’s guidance document to schools, circular number 5/94, Education Act 1993: Sex Education in Schools); and stating that, since “equality of opportunity in employment is imperative and all discrimination is unacceptable”, L/G/B/T (lesbian, gay, bisexual & transgender) teachers should feel free to be seen as positive rôle models and disclose their sexuality.

Sadly it appears that David Blunkett does not yet feel able to issue a public proclamation of encouragement to all school governors and staff, (following the exemplary initiative by Tony Banks in May for gay football players to come out); there is currently no requirement (or even encouragement) for schools to offer a complete, balanced, nonjudgemental syllabus to ensure that all their pupils have the opportunity to fulfil their potential and become well-informed and well-adjusted citizens; and “the issue of homophobic bullying and its unacceptability in schools” has got no further than a consultation document for guidance, (a copy of which the DfEE omitted to consider enclosing).

2 — By what legislative mechanism and in what timescale does the Government expect to honour its pledge to repeal Section 28?

3 — What is the Government’s intention with regard to placing a legal obligation on schools to provide honest, nonjudgemental information about gay issues (including but not limited to gay sexuality and gay ’safer sex’), rather than leaving these to the arbitrary whim of individual schools?

Reply from the Home Office

The reply from the Home Office (23rd June) was somewhat less impressive, failing even to refer to a number of the points we raised, and shamelessly evading others. -

The Sunday after the Soho bomb you demanded tougher sentences for racially motivated violence. OutRage! cannot see any difference between hatred fuelled by racial prejudice and hatred fuelled by prejudice based on differing sexuality: yet the Home Office stated “the Government does not accept the need for specific legislative measures to deal with homophobic attacks”. Tellingly, they did not attempt to offer any justification of the unequal treatment.

4 — Why is the Government promoting antigay violence by avoiding equal action against it?

While the DfEE mentioned that Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988 was the responsibility of the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, the Home Office reply (which was delayed several weeks, allegedly to coordinate responses from other Departments) omitted even to cite the much repeated mantra that it will be repealed “as soon as a suitable legislative opportunity occurs”.

5 — Why is there no effective coordination between Government Departments at Ministerial level?

Curiously, although the DfEE did not refer to Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE), which includes broader moral and cultural issues as well as sex education, the Home Office acknowledge that this can be used to promote respect for the diversity of and differences between people and state that the “Government is committed to raising the profile and status of PSHE and set up a National Advisory Group to develop a coherent framework, building on good practice and spreading it to all schools”. OutRage! is pleased to hear these good intentions, and would welcome the opportunity to provide constructive input. We should also like to receive a copy of the Advisory Group’s report to which the Home Office refer, when it is published shortly. — We note, however, that the consultation document QCA/99/405, “The review of the national curriculum in England: The Secretary of State’s proposals”, refers on p.21 to non-statutory guidelines that pupils should be taught “to understand that differences and similarities between people arise from a number of factors including cultural, ethnic/racial and religious diversity. gender and disability”, but makes no explicit mention of sexuality. In addition, although various reports at the end of June quoted Clare Short as advising the United Nations (in the context of AIDS prevention) that we should start telling children what they need to know, i.e. delivering sensible, pragmatic, unembarrassed sex education –whilst another (Pink Paper, 25th June) stated that “Officials in Brazil’s Department of Health are advising government ministers that sex education should start as young as four, to prevent the spread of HIV later in life [and] unwanted pregnancies”, and that the proposal was overwhelmingly endorsed by a conference of teachers and education officials– none of this advice had apparently worked its way through to either the Home Office or the DfEE.

6 — Can you confirm that Clare Short’s sound advice will be taken up by the Home Office and the DfEE, and be incorporated in future legislation?

The Home Office completely ignored our concern that there was no consultation between the Government and the wider L/G/B/T community, but only with Stonewall: an organisation which I have personally supported for a number of years but which neither consults nor is accountable either to its own supporters, nor to the rest of the L/G/B/T community, and hence cannot claim to be in any way representative. — Any consultation of significance must be within a larger, democratic, representative and accountable forum, (such as the Equality Alliance is striving to be).

7 — Could we please have your agreement that a broad cross-section of the L/G/B/T community will in future be included in all Government consultations on issues relating to sexuality and sexual equality?

The Home Office states that it has “been working with the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) to develop guidelines for police forces in dealing with incidents involving the lesbian and gay community and in order to ensure that they are policed in a fair and equitable manner”: but we are concerned that these are only voluntary guidelines.

8 — Will you now bring forward legally obligatory regulations to root out homophobia in the police and other services, with the same vigour that racism is now to be eradicated?

  • homophobia within the police force, including serious allegations of harassment and intimidation of lesbian and gay officers at Soho’s West End Central police station;
  • the seemingly malicious arrest last year of Ian Farmer at the annual Pride March in London on 4th July 1998, and the subsequent gross mishandling of his complaint, (which bears disquieting parallels with the mishandling of the case of Stephen Lawrence);
  • and the lack of any warning in April through the national media to the general public by the Home Secretary and the Police Commissioner that bombs might be directed at other, nonethnic, minority groups.

9 — Your explanation on these three points would be appreciated.

Action, not Words

While it is apparent from various sources that a number of Ministers display a significant degree of goodwill with regard to building an inclusive, nondiscriminatory society with respect for all, it is patently obvious that there is no coordination and no sense of urgency. Given your stated commitment two years ago to achieving a society free of discrimination and with equality and justice for all, within the coming months, we would urge you as a priority to address this disastrous deficiency by assigning responsibility to a competent, dynamic and committed individual, who is empowered to “kick ass” and get things moving. — Despite social progress in some areas since the 1967 Sexual Offences Act, there has been only isolated legislative tinkering. How much untold human misery will be caused (including deaths through suicide, self-neglect, queer-bashing, or bombing) if we have to wait another generation (or even for another General Election) before legislation on gay rights is improved? Other countries can do this: what is stopping Britain?

Yours sincerely,

John Hunt.

Letter from Home Office on Government Action after Soho bombing

Annotated reply from the Home Office to OutRage!’s letter to the Home Secretary, Jack Straw, following the bombing of the ‘Admiral Duncan’ pub.

Home Office,
Queen Anne’s Gate,
London SW1H 9AT.

23rd June, 1999.

Thank you for your letter of 3 May following the Soho bombing. I apologise for the delay in sending this reply and thank you for your patience.

As you know the Government has good relations with representatives from the gay and lesbian community.

This is presumably intended as a reply to point 4, demanding broader consultation with the L/G/B/T community, not just with Stonewall to the exclusion of all other organisations and interest groups.

With regard to your specific points:

Dealing with violence and harassment

First, let me say that the Government wants to stop attacks and harassment upon lesbians and gay men. The Government believes that everyone is entitled to the peaceful enjoyment of their lives without fear of harassment or violent crime. The Government considers such behaviour to be totally unacceptable whether the motivation for the attack is because of the victim’s perceived sexual orientation or for any other reason.

The Government’s view is that the law must be able to offer everyone in society the best possible protection from violence, whatever the motivation of the aggressor. There are many groups in society, which for one reason or another are particularly victimised and it is important that the law protects them all.

I have set out the relevant law below. However, the way in which the law is implemented is also important. When considering a custodial sentence, judges are already required to take into account all available information about the circumstances of the offence, including any aggravating factors, which can include the motivation of the perpetrator in committing the offence.

While the Government does not accept the need for specific legislative measures to deal with homophobic attacks, and is determined to deal with the problem of homophobic crime. [sic]

This is a reply to point 1, demanding tougher sentences for violence and harassment against lesbians and gay men, in precisely the same way that Tony Blair proposed (after the Soho bomb) for racially motivated attacks. OutRage! cannot see any difference between hatred fuelled by racial prejudice and hatred fuelled by prejudice based on differing sexuality.

For example we have been working with the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) to develop guidelines for police forces in dealing with incidents involving the lesbian and gay community and in order to ensure that they are policed in a fair and equitable manner. The guidelines include a definition of what should be regarded as a homophobic incident: “any incident which appears either to the victim or to any other person including the reporting or investigating officer to be motivated by homophobia”.

Increasingly, the police are working with the gay and lesbian community to deal with this problem – not only on a local, individual basis but also through liaison with the National Advisory Group on Policing the Lesbian and Gay Communities. The group includes lesbians and gay men who have experience of working with the police, together with police officers who work in this area. The National Advisory Group has worked with ACPO in developing the guidelines mentioned above.

The Government considers that there are particular problems associated with racial violence and harassment that justify specific legislation. Racially motivated crime harms not only the victim but the wider community as well, and has implications for public order more generally. The trust and understanding built up between communities can be eroded by the climate of fear and anxiety that follows such incidents. This is why the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 introduced new racially aggravated offences. The aim is to protect everyone from the consequences of racial crime and we would not wish to dilute the message that this Act sends to the victims of racial violence and harassment.

The Law

The criminal law already contains a wide range of powers to deal with violent behaviour or harassment. The main non-fatal violent offences include:

  • assault which attracts a maximum penalty of six months’ imprisonment and or a fine of £ 5,000;
  • assault occasioning actual bodily harm (section 47 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861) and malicious wounding (section 20 of the 1861 Act) with a maximum five years’ imprisonment;
  • wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm under section 18 of the 1861 Act which attracts a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

Where an attack results in death the offender may be charged with murder, for which the only sentence is life imprisonment, or with manslaughter where the maximum penalty is also life imprisonment. There is also a range of powers under the Public Order Act 1986 and the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 to deal with non-violent offences.

Education

Sex education is rarely taught in isolation, but is normally part of broader programmes of Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE). In this way there is an opportunity for teachers to address children’s spiritual, moral and cultural development to complement what they are learning about sex and relationships, and thereby better prepare them for adult life. PSHE can provide the vital building blocks from which young people can develop the self-respect and emotional well-being to help form and maintain worthwhile and fulfilling relationships. It promotes respect for the diversity of and differences between people. The Government is committed to raising the profile and status of PSHE and set up a National Advisory Group to develop a coherent framework, building on good practice and spreading it to all schools. The recommendations from the Advisory Group were fed into the review of the National Curriculum as carried out by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority. The Advisory Group’s report is due to be published shortly.

This relates to the final part of point 3, on the provision of balanced sex education for all age groups.

The Pink Paper carried a report on 25-June-1999, (page 7), stating that “Officials in Brazil’s Department of Health are advising government ministers that sex education should start as young as four, to prevent the spread of HIV later in life … [and] unwanted pregnancies”, and that the proposal was overwhelmingly endorsed by a conference of teachers and education officials.

An item on BBC Ceefax, (28-June-1999, page 120), quoted U.K. Government Minister Clare Short as advising the United Nations in the context of AIDS prevention that we should start telling children what they need to know. — However, that message is not reflected by the current reply from the Home Office.

The Secretary of State for Education, David Blunkett, recently announced his proposals for the review of the National Curriculwm which include a non-statutory framework for PSHE in both primary and secondary schools. In addition to PSHE, the Secretary of State’s proposals also include a new foundation subject for citizenship in secondary schools. A key element of the knowledge and understanding young people are expected to gain through citizenship education is the diversity of national, regional, religious and ethnic identities within the United Kingdom and the need for mutual respect and understanding. Provision for citizenship and PSHE will complement one another and help pupils to make sense of the world in which they live.

This relates to the first two parts of point 3, on promoting integration and eradicating bullying. Notably, the citizenship education makes no explicit mention of diversity of sexuality.

The effect that bullying can have both on the emotional well-being and educational achievement of children cannot be underestimated. We are concerned that all schools should treat the issue of bullying seriously and take steps to combat it promptly and firmly whenever and wherever it occurs. This is reflected in new legislation. The School Standards and Framework Act 1998 includes a section requiring headteachers, from September at the latest, to determine measures which encourage good behaviour and respect for others by pupils, and, in particular, to prevent all forms of bullying among pupils.

A school’s headteacher is already responsible for securing discipline on a day-to-day basis subject to any general principles laid down in writing by the school governors. Also, a headteacher has a duty to determine measures that encourage good behaviour and respect for others on the part of pupils.

When parents find that their child is being bullied, they should not hesitate to complain. Leaflets are available from the Department for Education and Employment.

There is no mention of point 2, viz. repeal of Section 28 of the 1988 Local Government Act.

Police Action

Complaint of Malicious arrest by lan Farmer: The procedures for dealing with complaints against the police are laid down under Part IV of the Police Act 1996. The Act makes the police and the Police Complaints Authority responsible for the investigation of complaints and there is no authority for Ministers to intervene in the process.

The Government are concerned to build public confidence in the police complaints system. The Home Affairs Select Committee made some important recommendations in its report last year on the police disciplinary and complaints procedures to increase the independence and openness of the process.

We have accepted the Select Committee’s recommendation to conduct detailed feasibility studies into arrangements for a fully independent complaints investigation process. This work will be completed by April 2000. We will consider in the light of that research whether legislation should be brought forward to establish a new independent complaints investigation body.

This relates to point 5(2). Sorry, Ian, the Home Secretary cannot help you: or not until any legislation which may be recommended next year has worked its way through the parliamentary process.

Police action in light of the nail bombings: All Metropolitan Police divisions throughout London were tasked with identifying vulnerable communities and focusing police activity, including high visibility policing to reassure and protect potentially vulnerable communities. As a consequence, Gay and Lesbian groups were identified as potentially vulnerable and Stonewall, Galop and other Gay and Lesbian businesses were contacted. This was followed by a letter from the police which was issued on 27 April and the Pink Paper led with a warning in its edition dated 30 April and circulated on 29 April. All the premises in Wardour Street and Old Compton Street, including the Admiral Duncan pub, were visited by two Crime Prevention Officers on 28 April.

The Metropolitan Police responded very positively to the threat to the safety of all people in London, talking to a wide range of community organisations and many businesses in a major crime prevention effort. That effort has rightly won widespread praise. The police in their turn have thanked the public for their support and vigilance, and have emphasised the importance of partnership.

This refers to point 5(3): but without even alluding to the OutRage! suggestion of a high-profile public announcement in the national media.

The events of recent weeks have shown that when communities and the police work together towards one aim success can be achieved. The new Task Group which has been established by the police to provide reassurance to all members of the public affected by hate in all its forms by seeking to prevent, deter and disrupt the criminal activities of violent extremists, will continue with this alliance.

Point 5(1) on homophobia within the police force is not addressed by this reply.

I hope this is helpful. Once again apologies for the delay in sending you this reply.

Yours sincerely,

Clare Sumner.

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