Peter Tatchell has announced plans to issue a witness summons to require the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. George Carey, to testify as a defence witness. This will be the first time in modern history that an Archbishop of Canterbury has been summonsed to court.
Tatchell has been charged wlth “violent behaviour”, following OutRage!’s Easter Sunday protest in Canterbury Cathedral, when he interrupted Dr. Carey’s sermon to condemn the Archbishop’s support for discrimination against lesbians and gay men. Tatchell will plead not guilty in Canterbury Magistrates Court on 15th May. “I am certain Dr. Carey will confirm that I remained totally non-violent”, said Tatchell.
Tatchell also intends to call as defence witnesses three other Cathedral officials, six members of OutRage!, and seven journalists, photographers and film crew.
Tatchell is pressing charges of assault against a Cathedral official who repeatedly punched him, as recorded and televised on BBC and ITN news on Easter Sunday, 12th April. The Cathedral official involved has been interviewed already by the police, and is likely to be charged soon with “common assault”.
Tatchell has offered to drop the charge of assault against the Cathedral official if the charge against him is also dropped.
The charge of “violent behaviour” against Tatchell is under Section 2 of the Ecclesiastical Courts Jurisdiction Act of 1860, which was originally part of the Brawling Act of 1551. The maximum penalty is £ 100 or two months’ jail.
Under the 1551 Act, Church Courts had the power to try lay people for offences relating to Church property. This right was abolished by the Act of 1860, which transferred legal powers in this area to the civil courts.
The last recorded prosecution under the 1860 Act for disrupting a church service was in 1966. Eight protesters interrupted the Sunday morning service at the start of the Labour Party Conference in Brighton. Opposed to the Labour Government’s support for the American invasion of Vietnam, they heckled the then Labour Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, as he read the lesson in Brighton’s Methodist Church. Charged with violent behaviour, two of the protesters were jailed for two months.
FURTHER INFORMATION: Peter Tatchell, +(44) 20-74.03.17.90
DEFENCE FUND APPEAL
OutRage! is appealing for contributions to the Peter Tatchell Defence Fund.
Cheques should be made payable to “OutRage!” and sent to:
OutRage!, P.O. Box 17816, London. SW14 8WT
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. George Carey, was surrounded in his pulpit by gay rights protesters as he was delivering his Easter Sunday sermon in Canterbury Cathedral at 11:20 a.m. today, (Sunday, 12th April).
Shortly after Dr. Carey began his address, seven members of OutRage!, who had been seated in the congregation, climbed the stairs into the pulpit, and displayed placards deploring his support of antigay discrimination: in particular, his opposition to an equal age of consent and to gay marriage.
Cathedral security staff rapidly manhandled the demonstrators down the steps, cutting the hands of two activists in the process. Peter Tatchell was wrested violently from the microphones as he explained the reason for the demonstration to the congregation, and was handed over to the police. After being detained for nearly seven hours, he was charged under Section 2 of the Ecclesiastical Courts Jurisdiction Act of 1860 with behaviour that is “riotous, violent, or indecent” in a church. He is on bail to appear at Canterbury Magistrates’ Court on the 15th May.
Dr. Carey opposes an equal age of consent and legal rights for gay couples. He supports discrimination against homosexuals in employment and in the fostering of children.
The Archbishop backs a discriminatory age of consent of 18 for gay men and endorses the ban on lesbian and gay foster parents by the Church of England Children’s Society, (the only major adoption agency which continues to discriminate).
He is against legislation to guarantee equal treatment for gay people in the workplace and he condemns gay marriage.
The Archbishop preaches the denial of lesbian and gay human rights. His opposition to gay civil rights is a perversion of Christ’s gospel of love and compassion.
There is nothing in the teachings of Jesus that condones antigay discrimination. By opposing homosexual equality, Dr. Carey is proclaiming himself a greater moral authority than Jesus Christ.
Ironically, the Church has launched a “Millennium Challenge”, in a bid to make itself ‘relevant’ to the lives of ordinary people in modern society. Dr. Carey preached love and mutual understanding when he resumed the sermon: but not for us. Can he accept the “OutRage! Challenge”, and attempt to include the L/G/B/T population in his pious thoughts?
FURTHER INFORMATION: Peter Tatchell +(44) 20-74.03.17.90
PHOTOS OF PROTEST: Adrian Arbib (ISF photographer) +(44) 411-090 544
Simon Bebbington (ISF reporter) +(44) 378-307 636
ISF News Agency +(44) 1628-54.25.54 / 0836-64.45.75
David Hoffman +(44) 20-18.104.22.168
Gaze Photographic Agency +(44) 20-76.02.11.62 / firstname.lastname@example.org
DEFENCE FUND APPEAL
OutRage! is appealing for contributions to the Peter Tatchell Defence Fund.
Cheques should be made payable to “OutRage!” and sent to:
OutRage!, P.O. Box 17816, London. SW14 8WT
When the Sunday Mirror last year outed Eastenders heart-throb, Michael French, there was no dispproval or rebuke from the rest of the media. Not a single newspaper denounced outing or defended French’s right to privacy.
This silence contrasts sharply with the media’s universal, violent condemnation of outing in 1994, when OutRage! named 10 homophobic Bishops at the General Synod of the Church of England and urged them to “Tell The Truth”.
The outing of Michael French by the Sunday Mirror was homophobic and sensationalist, exposing his sexual orientation in a way that suggested gayness was sordid and shameful.
OutRage!’s naming of the 10 Bishops had entirely different motives. It was not an attack anyone’s homosexuality. The aim was to expose church hypocrisy and defend the homosexual community against Bishops who endorse antigay discrimination. The Bishops’ homophobia and double standards impacted on the lives of other people, and were therefore matters of legitimate public interest.
Journalists had other ideas. The media furore over OutRage!’s outing campaign went ballistic not long afterwards. In January 1995, I delivered a “private and confidential” letter to the then Bishop of London, Dr. David Hope (now Archbishop of York), urging him to “come out”. We later had an amicable meeting and exchange of letters. There were no threats or ultimata from me. The idea was to persuade the Bishop that coming out was the right thing to do.
Suddenly, three months later, in March 1995, the Bishop called a press conference and outed himself, saying his sexuality was a “grey area”. Most of the media –including the Guardian, Times and Mail– reported that Dr. Hope had been “outed” by OutRage!. He hadn’t. We had no intention of outing him. If we had wanted to expose his sexuality, we would have done so the previous November when we named the other 10 Bishops. This very obvious point was never mentioned by the journalistic pack.
At his press conference, the Bishop alleged that he had been forced to make his confession by “intimidatory” pressure from OutRage!. This ridiculous allegation was reported, even though journalists saw the friendly correspondence between myself and the Bishop, which clearly suggested otherwise.
A month later, when probed by Lesley White of the Sunday Times, Dr. Hope changed his story. He admitted that he went public not in response to my letter, but following an approach from a Telegraph reporter who gave him the impression he was about to be exposed by OutRage!. We had no such plans. David Hope was, it seems, bounced into coming out by a journalist who gave him false information.
A shrewd politician, the Bishop used his press conference to present himself as a persecuted innocent. Although Church lawyers agreed my letter was not blackmail, Dr. Hope allowed journalists to portray it as such without rebuke.
The media accepted the Bishop’s version of events without asking a single critical question. There was praise for his “candour” (Times) and “extraordinary openness” (Telegraph). Yet by even the most elastic definition, describing his sexuality as a “grey area” was neither candid nor open.
There are only three possible sexual orientations, and grey isn’t one of them. Instead of hiding behind euphemisms, why didn’t the Bishop practise the honesty he preaches by saying whether he was gay, straight or bisexual? And why did no journalist press him on this point?
Grey is, of course, a mixture of black and white. Some people therefore interpreted the Bishop’s statement as a roundabout admission that his sexuality is a mixture of heterosexual and homosexual. Such an interpretation was not, alas, even once mentioned in any of the media coverage.
This illustrates the way everything Dr. Hope said was taken at face value by the press. There was no querying of his carefully crafted statement that he had “sought” to lead a “single, celibate life”. What one seeks to do and what one actually does are, as we all know, not necessarily the same thing. It is notable that he did not say: “I have never had sex with a man”.
And why, if the Bishop had nothing to hide, did his lawyer demand to know what information I had about his personal life? Such questions should have been asked by journalists, but they weren’t.
Instead, the media sought to demonise myself and undermine OutRage!’s credibility. Referring back to our naming of the 10 Bishops at the General Synod in November 1994, newspapers claimed we had admitted there was “no firm evidence” (Telegraph) and that the names were “based on rumour” (Guardian). What OutRage! actually said was the exact opposite. Our statement at the time was categoric: “These names are not based on gossip or rumour, but come from reliable, credible sources within the Church”. The press also failed to report the pertinent fact that none of the 10 Bishops denied being gay, and only one denied having gay sex.
OutRage! was vilified by the media with a savagery normally reserved for car-bombers and child-murderers. We were condemned as “thugs”, “gangsters”, “mafia” and “extortionists”. Our naming of hypocritical, homophobic Bishops was, according to the Mail, “homosexual terrorism” and “tactics of terror”. The Telegraph compared us to the Nazis, describing OutRage! as “fascistic” and “stormtroopers”.
Predictably, there was no similar outcry when, shortly beforehand, the People outed 12 gay vicars and the News of the World outed the Bishop of Durham. Nor did the press express a jot of concern about the Church-endorsed discrimination that damages the lives of lesbians and gays.
Much of the abuse was personal. The Sunday Times branded me “the enemy within” and “public enemy number one”. I was, according to the Evening Standard, “pure poison”. Others expressed violent sexual fantasies. “Tatchell … should be castrated”, wrote Sir Bernard Ingham in the Express.
After denouncing outing as a “brutality that is literally fascistic” and “an act of fascist terrorism”, Allan Massie warned in the Telegraph that I might be the target of an assassin which, he added, “many might think quite an honourable part to play”.
Massie’s ‘invitation’ to murder was helped when television news bulletins showed a close-up of my letter to Dr. Hope, with my address and telephone number clearly visible. The result: weeks of death threats, hate mail and attacks on my home. In addition, I was assaulted a dozen times in the street by hysterical homophobes who had been evidently influenced by the lurid, inflammatory coverage in the tabloids and broadsheets.
Getting myself accurately quoted was almost impossible. Journalists interviewed me with a predetermined news slant: outing was evil and so was I. To fit their prejudgement, they were not averse to rewriting quotes. While most newspapers liberally rephrased what I’d said, the Times printed total untruths. I did not comment on the coming out of Bishops Hope and Rawcliffe (Rawcliffe came out of his own free will in March 1995) with the words “Two down, three to go”. Nor did I say “I want to be a martyr”, or that my “ambition is to be thrown into prison for the gay cause”. The Times refused to publish a letter from me refuting these falsehoods. Letters correcting misrepresentations were also rejected by the Observer and Independent.
The BBC responded to the lynch-mob hysteria by banning live interviews with myself and other members of OutRage!. This meant we were often unable to defend ourselves against gross misrepresentation. The BBC radio show, Call Nick Ross, was a typical example. It devoted a whole programme to the outing controversey without allowing OutRage! any opportunity to defend itself against the distortions peddled by our critics. Despite being condemned by Liberty, the anti-censorship lobby Article 19, and the National Union of Journalists, this BBC ban received no newspaper, radio or television coverage.
One of the greatest travesties was the way the media gave the impression that OutRage! supports indiscriminate outing. We don’t. We only endorse the outing of hypocrites and homophobes who attack the gay community. This was rarely quoted. OutRage! would never out private individuals. We only out public figures if they condemn gay people and support the denial of gay human rights. That’s why we didn’t expose Michael Barrymore. He hadn’t harmed the gay community.
The Bishops are different. They demand honesty of others, yet they aren’t honest about their own gayness. Worse, they condemn homosexuality and advocate discriminatory laws.
Like most Anglican leaders, Dr. Hope opposes an equal age of consent for gay men, supports the ban on gay foster parents by the Children’s Society, endorses the sacking of clergy in loving gay relationships, and colludes with religious cults that attempt to “cure” gay people. His approval of discrimination, which is crucial to understanding our campaign, got precisely one column inch in one newspaper.
Equally unreported was the success of outing. Within a month of OutRage! naming the 10 Bishops, Anglican leaders began their first serious dialogue with the gay community and issued one of their strongest ever condemnations of antigay discrimination. A little later, Bishop Derek Rawcliffe voluntarily came out and the world conference of Anglican primates called on the Church to rethink its policy on homosexuality. Then the Archbishop of Canterbury, who for five years had refused to say a word about gay issues, spoke out against homophobia for the first time. To cap it off, the Bishop’s Sexuality Group was set up and is now consulting with lesbian and gay organisations. Because the media took a partisan stand against outing, these positive achievements were never reported. The much-vaunted freedom of press apparently includes freedom to suppress the truth and distort the facts.
Seven members of the gay rights group OutRage! staged a silent protest “against Anglican support for antigay discrimination” during Morning Eucharist at Southwark Cathedral today at 11 a.m.. The protest was directed at 60 leading Anglican primates from around the world, who were attending the service whilst in London for a fortnight to plan the 1998 Lambeth Conference.
Ten minutes after the service began, gay campaigners walked up to the altar of the cathedral and held up placards with the words:
“Lambeth 1998 Must Support Gay Equality”,
“Drop Church Ban on Gay Parents”,
and “Stop Sacking Gay Clergy”.
They knelt down in front of the altar in silence as the Provost and Verger attempted to remonstrate with them. After five minutes, Alastair Williams of OutRage! stood up and told the congregation that it was time the Anglican Church embraced homosexual equality. All the protesters then filed slowly out of the cathedral via the central nave.
“We are appalled by Anglican endorsement of discrimination against gay people and by the bishops’ refusal to put homosexual human rights on the agenda of the 1998 Lambeth Conference”, said Mr. Williams. “We want the Church to renounce its homophobia and the Lambeth Conference to give its backing to gay equality.
“The Anglican Church speaks out against racism: but it is shamefully silent about the worldwide violation of gay civil rights. The 1998 international conference must not ignore the prejudice and discrimination that blight the lives of lesbians and gay men.
“The Church of England actively discriminates against homosexuals. Clergy in loving gay relationships live in fear of dismissal. Bishops in the House of Lords refuse to vote for an equal age of consent for gay men. And the Church of England Children’s Society bans gay foster carers”, said Mr. Williams.
The Very Rev. Colin Slee said afterwards that he was “saddened” that the protesters had felt it necessary to interrupt an act of worship. “By disturbing worship in this way they are in danger of losing the understanding and sympathy of people who might otherwise listen.”
Within a week of this protest, the organisers of the Lambeth Conference wrote to the Church Times, announcing that homosexual issues will be on next year’s agenda. — Proof that direct action works!
Ten members of OutRage! scaled the walls of Lambeth Palace today at noon, confronting Archbishop George Carey and sixteen leading Anglican primates from around the world who were meeting at the Palace to plan the 1998 Lambeth Conference.
Brandishing placards with the words “STOP CRUCIFYING QUEERS”, they were protesting against Archbishop Carey’s prerecorded comments on ITV/Meridian Television which were being broadcast simultaneously, where he ruled out any rôle in the Church for clergy in homosexual relationships. (About a quarter of Anglican priests in Britain are believed to be gay, and most of these are sexually active.) Dr. Carey also said that the Church would never endorse same-sex marriage.
Reverting to a hardline position, Archbishop Carey said there were only two options for Christian: marriage or celibacy. This view endorses the continuing victimisation of gay people, both in the Church and in the wider society, says OutRage!.
The protest was also directed against Dr. Carey’s insistence that the issues of gay clergy and homosexual human rights will not be on the agenda of the 1998 Lambeth Conference: a worldwide gathering of the Anglican Church, which takes place every ten years.
Members of OutRage! remonstrated with George Carey for ten minutes, pointing out that, during the seven years since Carey became Archbishop of Canterbury and leader of the internation Anglican community:
George Carey refused to respond to any of these charges.
Shortly after the OutRage! invasion of Lambeth Palace, church officials spent an estimated £ 100,000 on erecting a 12-foot security fence on top of the Palace walls. No wonder the church has been in financial crisis!
In March 1995, the then Bishop of London, Dr. David Hope, called an impromptu press conference where he announced that his sexuality was a “grey area”. He claimed that he had been forced to make this announcement because he was being pressured and intimidated by Peter Tatchell of the gay rights group OutRage!, who had written to him in December 1994, urging him to be open and honest about his sexuality.
Later, however, a very different story emerged. In an April 1995 interview with the Sunday Times journalist, Lesley White, the Bishop of London admitted that he did not declare his sexuality in response to the OutRage! letter. He had, after all, received our letter two months prior to his decision to go public. What precipitated the Bishop’s sudden coming out was an approach from Clifford Longley, the Religious Affairs correspondent of the Daily Telegraph. Dr. Hope says that Clifford Longley gave him the impression that he was going to be exposed by OutRage! In fact, we had no plans to out the Bishop of London. Dr. Hope was effectively bounced into coming out by a journalist who gave him false information.
If we had wanted to reveal Dr. Hope’s sexuality, we would have done so last November at General Synod when we named the other 10 Bishops. We didn’t out him because we felt that it would be far more effective if Dr. Hope could be persuaded to come out of his own free will.
The final straw for Dr. Hope was possibly an article in the Independent On Sunday on 12 March, the day before he publicly declared his sexuality. Entitled “Why Gays Are Called To The Church”, this article by Andrew Brown referred to the large number of gay clergy in the London diocese. In the next sentence it cited the Bishop of London and his past rôle in running St Stephen’s House, Oxford, which it described as “the campest of all theological colleges, where he was known as Ena the Cruel”. The innuendo and insinuation was obvious. It seems the Bishop decided to jump before he was pushed.
The following extract from an article in the “Telegraph” dated 14-March-1995 by Clifford Longley and Ben Fenton serves to illustrate. —
Dr. David Hope said he had been “deeply distressed” by the group’s activities and the apparent attempt by Mr. Peter Tatchell, a spokesman, to persuade him to admit to being homosexual.
He described the atmosphere that had oppressed him since Mr. Tatchell had suggested three months ago that the group had detailed information about his personal life as “seriously intimidatory”.
The 54-year-old bishop denied absolutely that he was homosexual, but acknowledged there was more “ambiguity” about his sexual orientation than with some people.
He said: “With regard to the question ‘Are you a gay bishop?’, the answer to this is that I have from the beginning chosen to live a single celibate life. This is a positive way of life for me.”
Dr. Hope’s extraordinary openness followed a series of conflicts involving leading clerics and homosexual issues.
OutRage! named 10 bishops as alleged homosexuals during last November’s General Synod. The Bishop of London was not one of them. Then at a private meeting on Jan 4, Mr. Tatchell handed him a letter urging him to “come out”.
Mr. Tatchell, 43, denied yesterday that the letter had been threatening. He said: “It was a friendly and amicable meeting.” He said he later received an answer to his letter which was also published by the bishop yesterday.