Goods & Services

Religious SORS Protest

Fundamentalist Christians and Muslims protesting outside the House of Lords, London, January 9, 2007, against the inclusion of gays and lesbians in anti-discrimination legislation for the provision of goods and services. Faith groups are already protected by law but do not want LGBT people included. Nevertheless, despite the protest by the religious bigots, the Lords voted 199-68 in favour of protecting gays and lesbians from discrimination in the provision of goods and services.

 OutRage! 1990-2010. You are free to use this photo to illustrate news stories and articles about OutRage!, the lesbian and gay human rights group, with credit to the group and photographer. For all other uses, please inquire. Photos: Brett Lock, OutRage!

Outcast’s Printers Intimidated

The latest edition of Outcast, a small but well-respected gay magazine, has had to be cancelled because the company that usually prints it say their staff have been intimidated and fear reprisal attacks if they go ahead with the printing.

The February edition of Outcast contained an editorial and a half-page article detailing irregularities in the registration at Companies House of Mardi Gras 2000 Ltd.: a commercial enterprise owned in part by gay press barons Kelvin Sollis, David Bridle, and Tony Claffey.

Following the appearance of this article, solicitors Mischon de Reya acting for Chronos Publishing Limited, publishers of the Pink Paper and Boyz, wrote to Outcast’s Internet Service Provider, NetBenefit PLC, fearing that Outcast might publish something defamatory in a future article that might be published on their website.

On the 29th March at 4 p.m., Outcast received a letter from NetBenefit, warning that: “we advise you that we will suspend your website with effect from 6 p.m. today unless we receive from your solicitors written assurance that the entire content of your website does not contain any defamatory material”. After such impossibly short notice, NetBenefit then shut Outcast’s website down at 7 p.m..

Outcast has now been forced to move the content onto a server in America, (operating via the original URL of www.outcastmagazine.co.uk).

Outcast has traditionally printed provocative articles that challenge the ‘gay scene’ and the ‘pink pound’ economy. It has published controversial articles by writers including Ken Livingstone MP, Peter Tatchell, Mark Simpson, Emma Butcher, and Paul Burston. This originality and independence have led to it being attacked by mainstream gay titles, most of which print only a narrow, highly commercial and ‘London-centric’ view of gay life.

OutRage! condemns the bullying tactics that have been used to gag Outcast and censor free speech. It would be serious enough if these tactics were being used by homophobes to silence a gay magazine: but for a powerful gay company like Chronos to be resorting to these depths indicates very strongly that they have something to hide.

We don’t believe that Outcast has done anything wrong. Their articles are checked by David Price (a leading libel lawyer who defended Scallywag magazine against John Major): and they have never been taken to court over any issue in the past. If they are guilty of anything, it is of knowing too much about how the gay establishment works ‘behind the scenes’, and daring to tell their readers the truth about it.

Statement by NetBenefit, 6-April-2000

Outcast, a customer of NetBenefit’s web hosting services, recently claimed that NetBenefit had attempted to censor Outcast. NetBenefit rejects this.

NetBenefit does not censor any web site it hosts. NetBenefit is happy to host a web site such as Outcast – Outcast was accepted as a NetBenefit customer without question. NetBenefit will continue to support customers who seek to use the web to publish their views, whatever views they espouse, provided they keep within the law and do not expose NetBenefit to unacceptable risks which are clearly spelled out in NetBenefit’s terms of business.

NetBenefit has been advised, following the case involving Demon and Laurence Godfrey, that we are obliged to review the content of a web site once we have received a warning that potential defamatory material is expected to appear on it and to act very quickly if potentially defamatory material is found. This applies to all Internet hosting companies operating under English law. We received advice that Outcast actually had on their web site material that was potentially defamatory. NetBenefit had no choice but to take action to avoid an unacceptable risk of being drawn into one or more costly legal disputes which were not of its own making but in which NetBenefit, merely a provider of web space, could be held liable to the same extent as someone who uses that web space to publish a defamatory statement. The Demon case has shown this to be a real risk for providers of web space and ISPs in the UK.

NetBenefit was entitled under the terms of business Outcast accepted, to suspend Outcast’s web site without notice, but instead NetBenefit gave notice before suspending Outcast’s web site and sought strong assurances from Outcast: specifically an assurance from a lawyer about the then current content of the site and Outcast’s assurances about its arrangements for future content. Outcast responded to NetBenefit, acknowledging NetBenefit may be liable for any defamatory content Outcast publishes. Outcast failed to confirm its existing content was not defamatory, and indicated Outcast is not in a position financially to have its content checked by a lawyer but gave no assurance that future content would not be defamatory. Outcast alleged the suspension of their web site was censorship and gave an ultimatum demanding the lifting of the suspension. Outcast’s response therefore contained no assurances whatever and NetBenefit declined to reinstate access to the web space, which Outcast since decided to relocate.

We recognise Outcast is in the business of publishing and so understands these issues. We would invite Outcast to campaign on the real issue: the need for a change in the law to allow Internet hosting companies, like NetBenefit, to provide the service Outcast and others are seeking.

Advising Gay and Lesbian Clients – A Guide for Lawyers

Review of “Advising Gay and Lesbian Clients – A Guide for Lawyers”

David Allison reviews a new textbook which covers all the issues on which a client may need advice, including discrimination and employment issues, arranging financial affairs and making wills, the family home, custody disputes, adopting children or otherwise creating them, access to social services such as housing and welfare benefits and the criminal law as it affects gay men.

A team of barristers, lawyers and experts in specific areas of the law that affect gays and lesbians have assembled a reference book that is likely to prove invaluable to all members of the legal profession who handle gay casework, criminal and civil.

This is no weighty volume destined to slumber indefinitely on the shelves of a law library. Into its 226 pages the compilers have packed a phenomenal amount of data that is eminently readable, even by those of us who have no legal training. Interpretation, though, should be left to professionals.

Eight chapters cover the history of the law since 1967, criminal law, employment rights, discrimination and many other facets of the law that impinge on our lives. Domestic and property matters are also covered as are parenting, fostering etc.. Details of how to ensure that your partner inherits when you die are provided, as are frameworks for cohabitation agreements for owner-occupiers. Little seems to have been left uncovered. One little nugget of information is that the Ecclesiastical Courts Jurisdiction Act 1860, recently used against Peter Tatchell in consequence of his temporarily sharing the Archbishop of Canterbury’s pulpit, can be used also against anyone found cruising in a churchyard.

The book is copiously annotated, fully sourced and cross-referenced, and takes a practical, non-political, advice-centred approach. At £ 35 it is hardly a snip, but considering the time that it will save lawyers in researching information, the cost will be quickly recovered. There is a thirty-day approval option for prospective purchasers in the EU.

The foreword (below) is attributed to The Rt. Hon Lord Justice Sedley Royal Courts of Justice, London, January 1999.

“The two chief claims of any system of law are –or ought to be– that it is certain and that it is just. The law affecting gay men and lesbians in Britain at present is neither. It is struggling to keep abreast of radically changing public and private moralities, sometimes accommodating change, sometimes resisting it.

“In this labile situation the present volume is not only a handbook of much- needed guidance to lawyers with gay or lesbian clients. It is a living record of how we are coping as a society with a legacy of prejudice and discrimination in a nascent culture of human rights. It makes this book a special kind of practice manual: one which openly sets out to steer the development of law and practice in a humane and non-discriminatory direction.

“The authors share a record of professional distinction and commitment which gives the book both breadth and depth. As well as affording practical guidance which cuts helpfully across the traditional categories of legal learning, their book makes an important addition to the legal literature of human rights.”

Published by Butterworth’s, ISBN: 0-406-90303-4, £ 34.95

Authors:

  • Martin Bowley, QC, President of the Bar Lesbian and Gay Group;
  • Laura Cox, QC;
  • Gill Butler, Evans, Butler and Wade, Vice-Chair of Stonewall;
  • Anne Barlow, Solicitor and Lecturer in Law, University of Aberystwyth;
  • Matthew Davies, Solicitor, Wilson & Co;
  • Wesley Gryk, Solicitor, Wesley Gryk;
  • Angus Hamilton, Solicitor, Hamiltons;
  • Peter Smith, Solicitor, Smith Braithwaite;
  • Mark Watson, Stonewall

Orders may be sent to: Butterworth’s,
35 Chancery Lane,
London.
WC2A 1EL
Tel. Customer services: 020-86.62.20.00
Fax: 020-86.62.20.12
(There are no postal charges to addresses within the UK.)

Bank of Scotland stand zapped at Ideal Home Exhibition

Protesters with placards at Bank of Scotland stand. ©1999 John Hunt/OutRage! London

 N.B. The Bank of Scotland should not be confused with the Royal Bank of Scotland.

At 2:50 today, Saturday, 10th April, 8 gay activists from OutRage! descended upon the Bank of Scotland stand at London’s Daily Mail Ideal Home Exhibition, challenging staff to explain the massive joint business venture with the notorious US right-wing fundamentalist Dr. Pat Robertson, handing out leaflets to exhibition visitors, and displaying placards with the slogans:

  • Bank of Scotland in Bed with American Fascist
  • Stop Bank funding anti-women evangelist
  • No credit to bank that joins racist Robertson
  • Stop multi-billion deal with American homophobe
  • Under the deal, announced by the Bank of Scotland on 2nd March, a new direct banking subsidiary of the Bank of Scotland will be set up in the United States, 65% owned by the Bank of Scotland, and 25% owned by Robertson.

Robertson, founder of an organisation which calls itself the Christian Coalition, (which he describes as “people of faith working together to become the unified voice of families with children in middle-class America”), is on record as opposing almost every other group: women, Moslems, Hindus, gay men and lesbians, … Twenty-five percent of the profits of the new subsidiary will go straight to the campaign coffers of his fundamentalist fanatics.

The Bank acknowledge that “Robertson is well known for his personal views, particularly on abortion and homosexuality”, but initially attempted to maintain that “these views do not reflect in any way on our continuing commitment to providing the highest levels of service to all members of the community”. However, BoS Treasurer Gavin Masterton conceded in the Scottish Sunday Herald, (28th March), that profits from Robertson’s involvement in the venture will end up funding his ultra-right-wing campaigns.

The Church of Scotland has condemned the deal in very strong terms; and Action for Churches Together in Scotland (ACTS), representing nearly all Scotland’s 1.5 million church members and including all main denominations, was widely reported to have advised all member churches to withdraw accounts, (although their official position as of 17th April is that they have not yet taken this action, but neither have they ruled it out). Edinburgh City Council has passed a censure motion; and other Scottish local authorities, including Shetland Islands and East Lothian are expected to follow.

Despite this well-documented background, which led to £1 billion being wiped off BoS share values in March, staff at the stand denied all details of the scandal.

Robertson has shown in the past that he has little respect for regulations. His Christian Broadcasting Network was fined a large sum last year by the U.S. tax authorities for illegally funding his U.S. Presidential bid to the tune of 8.5 million dollars.

“People should know what their money is funding. Robertson is a politician who actively promotes racism, sexism and homophobia in a national political campaign”, said Gordon Lee, one of the protesters.

PRESS COPY: Simon Bebbington (ISF reporter) 0378-30.76.36
PHOTOS OF PROTEST: Jack Bagha (ISF photographer) 0370-48.29.09

Quotes from Robertson

“The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practise witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians.” — Fundraising letter, 1992.

“When I said during my presidential bid that I would only bring Christians and Jews into the government, I hit a firestorm. ‘What do you mean?’ the media challenged me. ‘You’re not going to bring atheists into the government? How dare you maintain that those who believe in the Judeo-Christian values are better qualified to govern America than Hindus and Muslims?’ My simple answer is, ‘Yes, they are.’” — Pat Robertson’s “The New World Order”, page 218.

(talking about apartheid South Africa) “I think ‘one man, one vote,’ just unrestricted democracy, would not be wise. There needs to be some kind of protection for the minority which the white people represent now, a minority, and they need and have a right to demand a protection of their rights.” — Pat Robertson, “The 700 Club”, 18-March-1992

To complain to the Bank of Scotland

To complain to the Bank to complain about this alliance with Pat Robertson ring their Head Office on 0131-442 7777, or Freephone 0500-31.31.11, (or 0800-43.52.14 for Bank of Scotland Freeway – a motor vehicle contract purchase scheme). Note that telephone calls may be recorded for security purposes and may be monitored under the Bank’s Quality Control procedures.

If you are not a BoS customer, insist on having your complaint registered as a concerned person or group. If you are a BoS customer, consider taking your business elsewhere and let the Head Office and your branch know you are considering this.

Note that on 22nd March the BoS appointed Jack Irvine, former Sun editor, and now a PR consultant specialising in crisis management, to defend the deal publicly for them. Irvine is well-known for his homophobic views. Writing last year in the Scottish Daily Mirror in response to the House of Commons vote to equalise the age of consent, he described gay men as “Slobbering queers who want to get their hands on 16 year-old boys’ bottoms”.

(more…)

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


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