Correspondence

Letter from Department for Education and Employment

Annotated response from DfEE to OutRage!’s letter to David Blunkett after the Soho bombing, pregnant with promise, but with unstated gestation.

Department for Education and Employment,
Sanctuary Buildings,
Great Smith Street,
Westminster,
London. SW1P 3BT

6th July, 1999.

Thank you for your letter of 25 May addressed to the Secretary of State for Education and Employment concerning Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988. I hope you will understand that due to the volume of correspondence received by the Secretary of State, it is not possible for him to answer all of it personally. On this occasion, I have been asked to reply on Mr Blunkett’s behalf. I apologise for the delay in doing so.

The lead Department with responsibility for Section 28 is, of course, the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR), and it is the Government’s intention to repeal Section 28 as soon as a suitable legislative opportunity occurs. However, I can indeed reaffirm that Section 28 applies to the activities of local authorities and has never applied to the governing bodies or staff of schools. Schools can cover gay and lesbian issues if they choose to do so and indeed our guidance document to schools, circular number 5/94, ‘Education Act 1993: Sex Education in Schools’, makes it clear that Section 28 does not bar them from doing so.

This is a response to point 1, reaffirming (as requested) that Section 28 of the 1988 Local Government Act neither applies to schools, nor restricts the supportive teaching and counselling that schools should offer on lesbian and gay issues. It is, however, regrettable:

  • that no indication is given of how many years we are expected to have to wait for the repeal of § 28;
  • that, while schools are free to “cover gay and lesbian issues if they choose”, there is currently no requirement (or even encouragement) for them 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.

Ministers do not underestimate the effect that homophobic bullying can have, both on the emotional well-being and educational achievement of children. We are concerned that all schools should treat the issue of bullying seriously, in whatever form it takes, and take steps to combat it promptly and firmly. Indeed, recent guidance that the Social Inclusion Pupil Support Division within DfEE issued for consultation, includes the issue of homophobic bullying and its unacceptability in schools.

This is a response to point 2, for schools to take firm action to halt all forms of homophobic bullying, whether directed at pupils or at staff, and regardless of the suspected sexuality of the victims.

While the statement that ministers do not underestimate the effect of homophobic bullying is presumably intended to sound reassuring, this reply suggests that no policy is actually in place. OutRage! has not received the consultation document on guidance as to the unacceptability of homophobic bullying: so we cannot comment on the content. There is no indication of how long it will take before even the mildest guidance is issued as DfEE policy. — The fiasco this month at the Passport Office is causing travellers to miss holidays: but delay here can cost lives.

Headteachers are already responsible for securing discipline on a day-to-day basis subject to any general principles laid down in writing by the school governors. They also have a duty to determine measures that encourage good behaviour and respect for others on the part of pupils.

It is for individual teachers to decide whether they wish to disclose their sexuality, but equality of opportunity in employment is imperative and all discrimination is unacceptable. [Emphasis added.] If a teacher feels he/she has been unfairly treated, they may wish to take their case to an Employment Tribunal.

This is a response to point 3, (confirming that being lesbian or gay is no bar to being a teacher) and to point 4, (on encouraging lesbians and gay men throughout the teaching profession to “come out”, and to advise schools and local education authorities that no teacher who does come out should be dismissed or in any other way disadvantaged for being honest and open about their sexuality).

We welcome the DfEE’s assurance that “equality of opportunity in employment is imperative and all discrimination is unacceptable”: but are saddened and dismayed that David Blunkett does not feel able to issue a public proclamation of encouragement to all school governors and staff, (following the lead of the call in May by Sports Minister Tony Banks for gay football players to come out).

Yours sincerely,

Lindsey Baker,
Personal, Social & Health Education Team.

Letter to David Blunkett – Call to encourage LGBT teachers to come out

The Rt. Hon. David Blunkett, MP,
Secretary of State for Education and Employment.

25th May, 1999.

Dear Mr. Blunkett,

Promoting Lesbian and Gay Equality of Opportunity in Schools
Following the sickening London bombings in April which targeted minority groups, OutRage! has been encouraged by some of the reported pronouncements by Tony Blair and Jack Straw on the need to promote equality, inclusivity and integration of ethnic groups, lesbians, and gay men, proactively; by your own statement ten days ago on proposals to “help young people develop a full understanding of their duties and responsibilities as citizens in a civilised and mature democracy”; and by the more recent explicit call by Sports Minister Tony Banks for gay football players to “come out”, to help combat homophobia in sport.

Although the Government has repeatedly affirmed its commitment to repealing Section 28 of the 1988 Local Government Act, it is recognised throughout the teaching profession and elsewhere that the continued existence of this deplorable legislation on the Statute Books promotes and maintains an atmosphere of fear and self-censorship, so that lesbian and gay pupils are all too effectively denied any form of support; whilst their heterosexual peers receive no encouragement to accept individuals whose sexuality is different from their own. — The need for this was underlined during the House of Lords debate last month on the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill, where it was revealed that the NSPCC, Save the Children, Barnado’s, NCH Action for Children, the BMA, Royal College of Nursing, Family Welfare Association, and the National Union of Teachers all supported equality and integration.

You will be aware of the tragic suicide last autumn of Darren Steele, who, after enduring years of homophobic bullying, committed suicide at the age of 15. You may also be aware of the 1998 GALOP survey of lesbian, gay and bisexual youth, “Telling it like it is”, which found:

  • 54% had suffered repeated verbal abuse
  • 35% physical abuse in school
  • 33% verbal abuse at school
  • 9% repeated hate communications
  • 8% repeated intimidation
  • 7% sexual abuse at school
  • 4% hate communications & property damage/theft

A 1992 survey by the Lesbian Youth Support Group and Information Service concluded that, of the young lesbians questioned, a staggering 70% of those who had experienced homophobic abuse had attempted suicide. — Given that many young lesbian, gay and bisexual people feel unable to be open about their sexuality, these statistics must represent just the tip of the iceberg.

On behalf of OutRage!, I am writing to urge you publicly:

  1. to reaffirm that Section 28 of the 1988 Local Government Act neither applies to schools, nor restricts the supportive teaching and counselling that schools should offer on lesbian and gay issues;
  2. to call on schools to take firm action to halt all forms of homophobic bullying, whether directed at pupils or at staff, and regardless of the suspected sexuality of the victims;
  3. to confirm that being lesbian or gay is no bar to being a teacher;
  4. to encourage lesbians and gay men throughout the teaching profession to “come out”, and to advise schools and local education authorities that no teacher who does come out should be dismissed or in any other way disadvantaged for being honest and open about their sexuality.

Your leadership on these matters would do much to help support gay pupils and teachers, and would be greatly appreciated.

Yours sincerely,

John Hunt.

Letter to Jack Straw – Call for Public Enquiry after Soho bombing

The Rt. Hon. Jack Straw, MP,
Home Secretary.

14th May, 1999.

I am writing on behalf of the lesbian and gay human rights group OutRage! to call for a public inquiry into the police failure to warn the lesbian and gay population that Old Compton Street and other gay districts were potential bomb targets.

Some gay businesses in Old Compton Street, and one gay organisation (Stonewall), were alerted. But there was no general warning to the wider lesbian and gay population. They had a right to know that their community was at risk, and the police were wrong to not make them aware of that danger.

A public inquiry is needed to ensure that the policing mistakes in the days leading up to the Soho bomb are identified, and that remedial action is taken to ensure they are not repeated in the future.

The police response after the Soho bombing was, in our view, praiseworthy. It does, however, need to recognised that their failure to forewarn the homosexual public that gay venues could be attacked was a serious and tragic misjudgement. This failure is a legitimate and necessary subject for a public enquiry.

Soon after the Brixton bomb, and most definitely following the Brick Lane explosion, officers suspected that right-wing extremists were behind the blast — and they admitted publicly this likely far-right connection.

From past experience, the police were aware that these neo-Nazi groups do not confine their hatred and violence to racial minorities. As well as being racist and anti-Semitic, they are also notoriously homophobic. It was obvious to anyone with even a passing acquaintance with the far right that the gay community was a potential bomb target. Nevertheless, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Paul Condon, and other senior officers, continued to publicly promote –without any proof– a solely-racist motive for the bombings.

In addition to the easily-arrived-at deduction that the bomber was likely to be homophobic as well as racist, there is cast-iron proof that, about a week before the Soho bomb exploded, officers on the case suspected that Old Compton Street might be a target. We know this because police were dispatched to alert gay businesses in Old Compton Street from Monday, 26th April, which suggests that the decision to warn these businesses was probably taken the Friday before or earlier.

There is further concrete evidence that the police feared the lesbian and gay community could be targeted. The gay rights group, Stonewall, was posted a police warning dated Tuesday, 27th April, but this letter did not arrive until Friday, 30th April, (the day of the bombing). Since the police had serious concerns about the lesbian and gay community being attacked, why was this warning not phoned, faxed or couriered to Stonewall, and to other gay rights organisations? Who made the decision to send the warning by second class post? These questions require answers.

It was also a grave mistake for the police not use their own community consultation structures to alert the most obvious and important gay groups: those that are involved in police liaison, through the London Lesbian & Gay Policing Initiative (LLGPI). None of these organisations received any warning about the bomb danger.

For nearly two years, the LLPGI has been urging the police to set up a data base of lesbian and gay groups in London, to ensure swift communication with the homosexual community in the event of an emergency, such as the recent bombing campaign. This recommendation was also made by OutRage! six years ago, after the delayed police warning to the gay community when serial killer, Colin Ireland, was on the rampage.

During the recent bombings, the failure of the police to establish this data base meant that, even if they had decided to alert all lesbian and gay groups that gay venues might be targeted, officers had no way of disseminating their fears to these groups.

The most serious police misjudgement was, by far, the decision to warn some gay bars, but not the wider gay public. This lulled many lesbians and gay men into a false sense of security. Because the police did not issue a public alert about the possibility of gay venues being bombed, most homosexuals did not take the threat seriously. They heard Sir Paul Condon suggesting an exclusively racist motive for the bombings, and assumed that the gay community was not at risk.

As soon as his officers realised tbat the lesbian and gay community was a potential target –which was Tuesday, 27th April at the latest and probably several days earlier– the Metropolitan Police Commissioner should have gone on national television to advise the homosexual population that gay areas and venues were at risk. He should have also announced publicly that Old Compton Street and other gay districts were under heavy police surveillance. This might have deterred the bomber. On hearing of the police surveillance of gay districts, he may have concluded there was a risk of detection and abandoned his plans. London and the gay community could, perhaps, have been spared the carnage of Friday, 30th April.

I hope you will agree that police decison-making in the run-up to the Soho bomb blast was flawed, and that in the interests of avoiding any repetition of those errors of judgement there needs to be a full and independent public enquiry.

Yours sincerely,

Peter Tatchell.

Letter to Jack Straw — Call for Government Action after Soho bombing

The Rt. Hon. Jack Straw, MP,
Home Secretary.

3rd May, 1999.

Dear Mr. Straw,

Government Action following Friday’s Soho bombing
Given your hospital visits to those injured by the bomb, it is plain that your weekend, like that of so many of us, has been disrupted by the blast, (albeit not in the devasting way that the survivors, their families, and those of the deceased will be affected for years to come).

I note that you have been reported this weekend as saying “there has, happily, been a huge change in the attitudes of society as a whole towards gay people. There is, of course, much more progress needed”: and I would agree with this on both counts.

From the extracts which I have seen reported, it would appear that the remainder of your comments have been limited to bringing the perpetrator(s) to justice, and on the sterling work of the police.

On behalf of OutRage! I am writing to ask you to consider and reply to the following additional points.

  1. To introduce an amendment to the 1998 Crime & Disorder Act, to impose tougher sentences for violence and harassment against lesbians and gay men, (in accordance with the spirit of the amendment tabled on 8th May last year by Richard Allan, MP).
  2. To repeal Section 28 of the 1988 Local Government Act, which, despite various Government pronouncements, in practice still exercises a severely inhibitory effect upon schools and other organisations which work with young people.
  3. In accordance with Tony Blair’s 1997 election slogan “Education! Education! Education!”, to ensure that both primary and secondary schools do their utmost to:
    • promote integration (of all segments of society) and eliminate intolerance;
    • eradicate racism, homophobia, and other forms of bullying;
    • introduce balanced sex education, addressing at all levels of the curriculum and in all relevant subjects appropriate awareness of acceptable and unacceptable variations of behaviour within personal relationships, for the practical, long-term benefit of all pupils, whatever their sexuality.
  4. In the context of the reported statement that you “value the close working relationship which I have with Stonewall and the gay community”: with which L/G/B/T (lesbian, gay, bisexual & transgender) organisations do you have any relationship, apart from Stonewall? Although I have personally supported Stonewall financially for a number of years -and still do- it is only fair to state that they neither consult nor are accountable either to their own supporters, nor to the rest of the L/G/B/T community. As such their point of view is by no means representative. Moreover, despite their wealth (relative to other community bodies), their still limited resources do not enable them to address all the issues which they might like to: to say nothing of other issues which they prefer to ignore. — Any consultation of significance must be within a larger, democratic, representative and accountable forum: for example, through the Equality Alliance, (which has performed a useful coordinating and information-sharing rôle this weekend). You will be aware that OutRage! is most desirous to have serious input into the legislative process: as, indeed, are other groups.
  5. On the subject of the police, it is indeed right and proper that the good work which they do should be acknowledged and appropriately rewarded. However, as the MacPherson Report has demonstrated (in the different but very closely related area of racism), there are regrettably still shortcomings. In the context of homophobia, I mention the following selection. –
    • The May issue of “Gay Times” carries a report, pp. 14 + 48, on homophobia within the police force: at a number of stations, but, in particular, at Soho’s West End Central. Indeed, after Saturday’s protest rally, a fellow marcher stated that a friend of his, a lesbian police officer there, was very distressed about the working environment. — There is little point in encouraging the police to hunt for bomb-planting terrorists whilst they allow hotbeds of homophobia and racism to flourish within their midst.
    • At last year’s Gay Pride March, a member of the Equality Alliance, Ian Farmer, was maliciously arrested. He subsequently complained: only to discover earlier this year that his complaint had been misrecorded. The mishandling of this case reflects a number of the issues which were recognised in the Stephen Lawrence scandal.
    • Although the police visited and warned selected gay businesses of the possible danger of a bomb, (not, I am informed, with due diligence), the warning was by no means high-profile. Since they had suspicions, tragically confirmed, that bombs might be directed at other, nonethnic, minority groups, it would surely have been appropriate to announce this to the general public through the national media. That this was neglected reminds me of the “Don’t die of ignorance” advertisements warning the nation of the danger of icebergs. This was another warning that dare not speak its name in public. — Why are the British as a nation so shamefully coy? It is truly disastrous: as has tragically been proved on both occasions.

We also hereby invite you to attend a brief commemorative Vigil of Remembrance at 6:30 p.m., Friday, 7th May, Old Compton Street, outside the Admiral Duncan.

Yours sincerely,

John Hunt.

Submission to the Home Office Sex Offences Review Team

Su McLean-Tooke,
Sex Offence Review Team,
Room 253,
Home Office,
50, Queen Anne’s Gate,
LONDON. SW1H 9AT

19th March 1999

Dear Ms. McLean-Tooke,

Herewith our contribution to the Home Office Review of Sex Offences. Please do not hesitate to contact us via any of the addresses above if we can be of further assistance.

We understand the review will take some time, after which there will be a further consultation period. We anticipate taking a further part during this when we will be very happy to explain the proposals, whatever their form, to audiences throughout the land.

Although prostitution is excluded by the terms of reference from the current review, nothing in our submission should be interpreted as condoning the continued criminalisation of prostitution per se.

Yours truly,

John Beeson (for OutRage!)

SUBMISSION TO THE SEX OFFENCES REVIEW TEAM

INTRODUCTION

Our Statement of Aims is as follows:

OutRage! is a broad-based group of queers, committed to radical, non-violent direct action and civil disobedience to:

ASSERT the dignity and human rights of queers;
FIGHT homophobia, discrimination and violence directed against us;
AFFIRM our rights to sexual freedom, choice and self determination.
Any organisation with these aims must welcome a chance to review the law on homosexual crime and ‘make recommendations that will provide coherent and clear sex offences which will protect individuals, especially children and the more vulnerable, from abuse and exploitation’.

We believe the present laws against gay men, and to a lesser extent lesbians, are unjust, blatantly homophobic and, compared to similar laws controlling heterosexual behaviour, totally unequal. This inequality extends to the protection of minors, enforcement, penalties, charges and sentences.

We do not believe that consensual actions between adults, no matter how bizarre they might appear to the majority, are any concern of the law, or its agents. Thus we seek to legitimise consenting actions in bath-houses and saunas, ‘backrooms’ in pubs, and all group sex in private, including sadomasochistic games. We would also like to extend the concept of private to include public lavatory cubicles and after-dark ‘cruising’ areas.

Where activities such as ‘cruising’ and ‘cottaging’ are the subject of complaint from a member of the general public, the complainant should be required to appear at any subsequent trial and the offence, if any, should be regarded as a misdemeanour.

This group believes that, since recreational sex is a natural activity and popular pursuit, all laws which seek to control it should be abolished. However, abuse of trust and sex by adults with minors should remain punishable as at present: though there may be a case for the review group to give sensitive consideration to examples of experimentation between those just above and just below a fixed age of consent.

The whole basis of the current homosexual control laws is moralistic and based on a largely medieval concept of Christianity which we believe has no place in a pluralistic democratic society. Terms such as immoral, indecent, unnatural, sodomy and buggery have no place in a modern legal code.

Sex Offenders’ Register

While we are anxious to ensure that the vulnerable are protected from assault and abuse, we are greatly concerned about the implementation of the Register, the ease with which names may unnecessarily be added, and the difficulty in removing names no longer appropriate, (e.g. where the offence for which a person was added is subsequently decriminalised).

We also believe that the best way to promote protection of the vulnerable is through education, in schools and in the workplace, to inculcate the notion of respect for self and for others. Criminalising behaviour is at best a second string to the bow.

HOW OUTRAGE! BELIEVES THE LAWS SHOULD BE CHANGED

The Sexual Offences Act, 1956

This act could be reformed by simply making all sections gender neutral, that is persons instead of man, woman, boy or girl, adding ‘whether anal or vaginal’ to references to sexual intercourse and then repealing sections which no longer apply.

Thus Sections 1 to 10 could be reformed, Sections 11 and 12 and 13 repealed, and the reference to bestiality with an animal in Section 12 transferred to animal cruelty legislation. Section 14 should be reformed and Sections 15 and 16 repealed. Section 17 should be reformed and Section 19 repealed.

Sections 20 to 30 could be reformed and Sections 31 and 32 repealed. Sections 33 to 38 reformed and Section 41 repealed. This only leaves Sections 42 to 48 to be reformed.

Public Order Act 1986

We would endorse Martin Bowley’s group’s proposal that this Act should have Sections 4a and 5 modified to allow it to be used to regulate sex acts in public. They suggest that Section 5 should be modified as follows:

A person is guilty of an offence if he uses threatening words or behaviour, or disorderly or indecent behaviour within hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress thereby.

A similar modification should be made to Section 4a to cover intentional harassment.

Vagrancy Act 1824
Section 4. Repeal.

Street Offences Act 1959
Section 1 and 2. Modify to gender neutral.

Sexual Offences Act 1967.
Repeal the whole Act.

Criminal Law Act 1977
Section 54 part 1 and 2. Modify to gender neutral.

Sexual Offences Act 1985
Section 1 and 2. Modify to gender neutral.
Section 4 part 1. Modify to gender neutral. Repeal parts 2 and 3.

Common Law

  1. No proceedings shall take place against any person for any actual or pretended common law offence of sodomy or buggery with mankind, of any attempt solicitation or assault with intent to do the same, or of committing diverse, unlawful, unnatural, and sodomitical practices.
  2. The offences at common law of conspiracy to corrupt public morals or outrage public decency should be abolished except in so far as they relate to any substantive criminal offence.
  3. The offences at common law of outraging public decency and the keeping of a disorderly house should be abolished.

Virgin Insurance – Letter to Richard Branson

Is ‘gay-friendly’ company loading insurance premiums?

Richard Branson
Virgin Communications Ltd
186 Campden Hill Road
London W8 7CH

23 February 1999

Dear Sir,

Some weeks ago I applied for Virgin life insurance. During a telephone conversation I was asked questions about my sexuality that I feel were intrusive and discriminatory. Your agent conducted the interview in a professional and friendly manner, and I have no complaint whatsoever with him. The questions themselves were the problem.

Virgin has a long record of support for gay community events, consequently, it seems incongruous that you should include questions in your life insurance interview that imply that gay people will be discriminated against by higher premiums, if their application is accepted in the first place. Unlike smoking, for instance, being gay is a given, not a choice.

As your actuaries will be aware, there are other means of covering you against loss resulting from lifestyle risk that are used by other companies. If a company with the reputation of Virgin would set the example by removing discriminatory questions from your insurance applications, I am certain that others will follow. You will thus gain the further gratitude of the gay community and send out the message that you treat all your customers equally.

Thank you for your time.

Yours sincerely,

David Allison


Dear Mr Allison

Thank you for your letter, dated 23rd February 1999, giving your concerns regarding the questions you were asked in order to obtain a quotation.

I appreciate that all of the questions we ask are of a personal nature, however we do need to ask these to ensure that we are assessing any application fully. To enable us to give a fair cost to all of our customers we need to assess a number of areas that could potentially pose a risk to us, and therefore our customers. The areas that need to be specifically evaluated are our customer’s health, lifestyle, occupation and hobbies, and questions are asked about all of these areas.

Unlike insurance cover provided by many other insurance companies, Virgin Life and Serious Illness insurance does not have an HIV exclusion clause as we aim to provide as much cover as possible for our customers. Any possible risk factors must therefore be assessed when considering individual costs.

While we do not have any immediate plans to alter the questions we ask, our customer’s views are very important to us and are considered when making changes. Thank you, once again, for taking the time to write to us.

Yours sincerely

Judy Gregory

Virgin Direct
Virgin Direct Personal Financial Service Ltd
Virgin Direct Personal Financial Service Ltd is regulated by
the Personal Investment Authority for life insurance,
pension and unit trust business and represents
only the Virgin Direct marketing group.
Registered office: Discovery House,
Whiting Road. Norwich NR4 6EJ
Registered in England no. 3072766
CS6-12.97

Zimbabwe: Trumped-up Prosecution of GALZ President on Sodomy Charges

OutRage! urges activists concerned about the persecution in Zimbabwe of Keith Goddard of GALZ on trumped-up charges to send letters of protest to:

Zimbabwe High Commission, 429, Strand, London WC2.
Tel. 020-78.36.77.55

President of Zimbabwe,
The President’s Office,
Post Bag 7700,
Causeway,
Harare,
ZIMBABWE.

Dear Robert Mugabe,

You will recall that we met over coffee at the “Africa At 40” conference at Central Hall Westminster last October. During the 1970’s, I was involved in fund-raising and political campaigning on behalf of ZANU. You thanked me for my efforts in support of the War of Liberation.

I raised with you the issue of lesbian and gay human rights, expressing my concern that homosexual people in Zimbabwe were being harassed and threatened, and that your own past antigay comments had fuelled the atmosphere of intolerance.

When I asked you to reconsider your public hostility to lesbian and gay people and their human rights, you said that homosexuals in Zimbabwe would not be persecuted. You even said, in response to my questioning, that you “may” be willing to meet with lesbian and gay organisations to discuss their concerns.

These responses were, to my pleasant surprise, much more conciliatory than your earlier public pronouncements. I had hoped that you might eventually commence a dialogue with lesbian and gay Zimbabweans.

It is therefore with great sadness that I learn of the continuing harassment of the human rights group, Gays & Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ): in particular the arrest of GALZ leader, Keith Goddard, on charges of forced sodomy – despite the police possession of evidence that the alleged “victim” had been attempting to blackmail and extort money from Goddard.

Knowing Keith Goddard personally, it is inconceivable that he would ever use sexual force or pressure. He is a most gentle, considerate man, to whom any form of coercive sex would be abhorrent.

Personally, and on behalf of the lesbian and gay human rights group OutRage!, I urge you to intervene to ensure that these absurd, unjust and uncorroborated charges against Keith Goddard are dropped.

Yours sincerely,

Peter Tatchell.

Mugabe launched yet another attack on homosexuals on 22-April-1998, and criticised the World Council of Churches which, he claimed, intended to discuss homosexuality during its international assembly in Harare in December this year.

In an emotional eulogy at the home of Charles Chikerema, the late editor of a Government newspaper, The Herald, who died on 21 April, President Mugabe said that homosexuality was evil and was not justifiable by any means.

“Animals in the jungle are better than these people because at least they know how to distinguish between a male and a female,” said Mugabe, speaking in the Shona language. He repeated his views –which caused international controversy several years ago– that homosexuality was completely unacceptable and neither African nor Christian.

Same-Sex Partners in the 2001 Census

Recording of same-sex partnerships in 1991 and 2001 Censuses

Graham Jones,
Director of Census Division,
Office of National Statistics,
Sedgenworth Road,
Tichfield,
Fareham.
PO15 5RR

Dear Mr. Jones,

In the 1991 census, there were questions designed to establish the relationship between members of the household. The design of the form inadvertently allowed same-sex couples to identify their partnership. A significant number of lesbian and gay couples took advantage of this opportunity and indicated in the relevant section on the form that they were living together as partners.

This record of same-sex relationships, which was not intended by the Census Division, was regarded as “anomalous” and the information provided by these couples was “corrected” to erase any record of homosexual partners. The end result was that same-sex lovers who wished to record their partnership were falsely recorded as “unrelated” in the 1991 Census.

I am writing to request your official acknowledgement that these “corrections” to the data took place, and that it was the official policy of the Census Division at that time to expunge any record of same-sex partnerships.

I further wish to seek your reassurance that the 2001 Census form will be designed so that those homosexual couples who wish to record their partnership will be able to do so, and that same-sex partnerships will be included in the final Census statistics.

Yours sincerely,

Peter Tatchell.

cc: Dr. Tim Holt, Head of the Government Statistical Office
Helen Lidell MP

Letter to President Menen of Argentina

Barbaric ‘Experiments’ by Nazi Dr. Værnet, War Criminal

The President,
Republic of Argentina,
Balcarce 50,
1064 Buenos Aires,
Argentina.

12th March, 1998

Dear President Carlos Menen,

We are writing to request the help of your government to discover the fate of the Nazi doctor, Carl Værnet, who fled to Argentina after the war and was last known to be working in the Buenos Aires public health department in late 1947.

Dr. Værnet was a pro-Nazi Danish citizen who served in the SS, conducting barbaric medical experiments –including castration and forced hormonal implants– on gay concentration camp prisoners at Buchenwald and Neuengamme.

Unlike other Nazi doctors, he was never put on trial at Nuremberg, and was allowed to flee to Argentina soon after the war was over.

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

It is our formal request that the Argentine government conduct an investigation to determine what happened to Dr. Værnet. Is he dead or alive? Could you please furnish us with this information? A good place to start looking would be the records of his employers, the Buenos Aires health service.

OutRage! is an organisation dedicated to the promotion of lesbian, gay and bisexual human rights worldwide.

Dr. Værnet committed acts which are, according to our understanding of international law, crimes against humanity.

We would greatly appreciate your government’s assistance in discovering Dr. Værnet’s fate. Thank you.

Yours sincerely,

Peter Tatchell

Letter to Prime Minister Rasmussen of Denmark

Barbaric ‘Experiments’ by Nazi Dr. Værnet, War Criminal

The Prime Minister,
Statsministeriet,
Christinsborg,
Prins Jorgens Gaard 11,
Copenhagen 1218,
Denmark.

16th March, 1998

Dear Prime Minister Poul Nyrup Rasmussen,

We are writing to request the help of your government to discover the fate of the Nazi doctor, Carl Værnet, who fled to Argentina after the war and was last known to be working in the Buenos Aires public health department in late 1947.

Dr. Værnet was a pro-Nazi Danish citizen who served in the SS, conducting barbaric medical experiments –including castration and forced hormonal implants– on gay concentration camp prisoners at Buchenwald and Neuengamme.

Unlike other Nazi doctors, he was never put on trial at Nuremberg (Nürnberg), and was allowed to flee to Argentina soon after the war was over.

Dr. Værnet’s role in the medical abuse of gay prisoners is documented in the archives at the International Tracing Service at Arolsen (example: ITS Arolsen, book 36, folder 405). It is 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 also cited 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 our information, which remains incomplete, at the end of the war Dr. Værnet was interned in the British-run Alsgade Skole prisoner-of-war camp in Copenhagen.

On 29th May 1945, the chairman of the Danish Medical Association sent the 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. The report from the chairman of the Danish Medical Association was, apparently, ignored by the Justice Ministry in Copenhagen.

In the autumn of 1945, the British handed over Dr. Værnet to the Danish authorities. What these authorities did with him at this stage remains unknown. Was he placed in a Danish prison? Or was he moved to hospital for the treatment of his alleged heart problem? This, too, demands an investigation and an answer.

On 2nd January 1946, the Danish Medical Association received a letter from Dr. Værnet’s lawyer, informing them that he had resigned — apparently in a bid to preempt the Association’s plan to have him struck off for his wartime activities,

It is known that Dr. Værnet was eventually transferred to hospital, on the grounds that he was allegedly suffering from a heart complaint, (which may well have been fictional in order to facilitate his release from detention). When did this transfer take place? Who authorised it? What independent medical report, if any, confirmed his heart condition?

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

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

On 19th 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.

It is our formal request that the Danish government explain:

  • Why was Dr. Værnet never put on trial on charges of war crimes, alongside other Nazi doctors?
  • What explanation is there for the way the Ministry of Justice ignored the serious allegations made by the Danish Medical Association concerning Dr. Værnet’s wartime activities?
  • Who authorised him to leave prison unguarded and attend hospital for treatment without supervision?
  • How did Dr. Værnet –a former Nazi SS officer accused of war crimes– get official permission to travel to Sweden for medical treatment?
  • Was there any disciplinary action taken against those who allowed him to leave prison and go to hospital and, later, to leave Denmark for Sweden?
  • What action has been taken by the Danish government over the last 50 years to track down Dr. Værnet and bring him to trial on charges of crimes against humanity?
  • Is he now dead or alive? If he is still living, what action does the Danish government propose to take to put him on trial?

OutRage! is an organisation dedicated to the promotion of lesbian, gay and bisexual human rights in Britain and worldwide.

Dr. Værnet committed acts which are, according to our understanding of international law, crimes against humanity.

We would greatly appreciate your government’s assistance in discovering Dr. Værnet’s fate. Thank you.

Yours sincerely,

Peter Tatchell