Bolton 7 – Protests grow louder

Seven Gay Men convicted for consenting sex in private

Protests are escalating against the conviction of seven men in Bolton, Greater Manchester, for consenting sex in the privacy of their own homes. The men will be sentenced on 20th February. The judge has warned that some may be jailed.

The Bolton 7 were convicted under the arcane ban on gay sex involving the presence of more than two persons, and three were found guilty of age-of-consent violations with a 17½-year-old.

These men have been prosecuted for victimless offences that apply only to gay men. None would have been arrested if their partners had been women.

The latest developments in the defence campaign are:

  • Dr. Evan Harris, MP, (Lib. Dem.), has tabled an Early Day Motion condemning the prosecution and calling for gay law reform;
  • the Bishops of Worcester and Edinburgh are urging that the men should not be jailed;
  • Brian Iddon, MP, (Lab., Bolton S.E.), has written to the judge asking for clemency and deploring the fact that two of the men have been forced to sign the Sex Offenders’ Register for victimless acts with a 17½-year-old;
  • the prosecution was referred to the highest level, and went ahead with the knowledge of the office of the Lord Chancellor, Lord Irvine, and the endorsement of the Director of the Crown Prosecution Service, Dame Barbara Mills;
  • since the Bolton 7 case received publicity, there has been a slanderous whispering campaign (by the police ???) to discredit the men and to justify police/CPS zealousness, with false allegations of pædophilia and mutilation;
  • the anger in the gay community has forced Greater Manchester police to abandon a new initiative against homophobic violence, which was due to have been launched in Bolton;
  • the prosecution of these men is seriously undermining police attempts to build better relations with the gay community, with many Manchester gay campaigners urging a withdrawal from the police liaison forum;
  • Amnesty International is investigating the case, with a view to adopting the men as ‘prisoners of conscience’ if they are imprisoned;
  • the men’s solicitor has received 300 letters, from human rights groups all over the world, condemning the trial.

Over 200 people attended a protest meeting at Manchester Town Hall on 26th January; and 150 joined a candlelit “Vigil for Justice” outside Bolton Crown Court on 31st January.

The prosecution is in defiance of last October’s ruling by the European Commission of Human Rights that Britain’s unequal age of consent is unlawful.

OutRage! is urging that letters of support, donations, and offers to help organise the Bolton 7 Defence Campaign be sent to the men’s solicitor:

Janet Cragg,
Robert Lizar Solicitors,
159, Princess Road,
Moss Side,
M14 4RE

Tel. 0161-226 2319
Fax. 0161-226 7985