We notice that recently we've been having a flush again of folk calling us who are in trouble with the police and potentially the courts. Maybe this is an accident. Maybe. Maybe this is just odd – when so much gay activity is now legalised and accepted – isn't it ? - just a blip mostly to do with the protection of children: now – but then we are very very old birds.
Wasn't it always so – we ask ourselves – don't we remember that around the time of almost every major liberalisation of British/ English laws on male homosexual activities – as the laws change there has been an upsurge in a mad way of persecutions and prosecutions. “They” let one thing be – but come down hard on another Is it as if homophobia can't stop – and “some one” sees/ reads that now gays can do X and Y – then by God they won't be letting the buggers do Z. Seeing what gays are now going to be allowed to do “by God enough is enough” and the homophobe is roused to register “no” to that and a spite lets forth – in venom – and a complaint is made and this time dealt with thoroughly – partly because of liberalisation of most things homosexual - because now they can do this and that “by God they won't be let do that other.” When sex between two men became legal in private in England and Wales – we saw a rash of actions against men having, or attempting to have some, or any kind of. sex in a park, in the woods, in a public toilet. And the penalties for such inappropriate behaviour increased. An Old Beak would have muttered – “Don't do that – again. Five pound fine and on your way. Next.” But now there were penalties and increased penalties and soon to be registers. It is as if “Society” said “now look you lot do your messing/ whatever you do do - it is your thing IN PRIVATE now it is legal – so ANY ANY hanky panky in the park and we'll be onto you lot like a ton of bricks: woof – we'll from now on stamp on all of that with a heaviness. So the law changes – it has: it does: it “improves” for the normality of gays and to eliminate gender discrimination – little by little in the 1970s/ 1980s - it “improves” and then the law reads that sex between men and lads over 18 it becomes legal (as long as it's two) “Ah,” it seems that an eagle eyed homophobe spots “Ah,” legal for two yes over 18 yes – but if the act were videoed you'd need a third person to do the videoing of it – wham bam – that is HIM AND HIM AND THE VIDEOER = 3 and that is illegal and so wham bam we have the full force of Justice at vast expenses descending upon the Bolton Seven for the Great Infamous Crown Court Trial of 1997. The law was shown to be an ass. That law was changed.
Compensation eventually – for all of the Bolton Seven but for Norman Williams
Compensation awarded for wrong was done – for by European law the Bolton Seven couldn't and shouldn't have been prosecuted at all. So – so – the law is changed for the same it must be for men and for women and if a bunch of women wanted to do and did the things sort of things the Bolton 7 did – fondling and sex and that and that - it wouldn't have been illegal – not for girls/ women: and to video it ? - no: not for private ? Think not - so OK – for females in groups (in private) and OK to video (for private purposes) OK OK – but children…phew…anything to do with “children”…all the alarm bells now – for “children” are now a big big To Be Protected species/ issue/ business/ charity/welfare interest. Children WILL be protected so new offences are introduced – grooming : inappropriate touching. ANY interference below “the age” and the person accused will have their life frozen – no matter what / however minor the allegation and full investigation will begin. Now to the Sex Offenders laws consultation process 1999 we gave evidence – and much is good that has come out of it - but one matter has been stiffened in law that we expressed worry on – even as it was. Indeed we recommended should be in normal or minor offence circumstances it should be abolished. That is - The allowing of THE HISTORICAL ALLEGATION We said that if you as an abused only remember to mention some 10 years on that 10 years ago when you were 15 so a Mr. X lightly messed with you – forget it. It shouldn't be prosecutable - in the sense of charges laid against a guy of previous good character that involve the freezing now of his life and the public trial of Mr. X. The government said no to that. Children are v v big – and the government said the law should not only stay but penalties be stiffened : the historical allegations could come out of children's mouths years later for with children it may take a lot of courage (and wits ?) to say this and that happened when I was 15 all those years ago.
AND WATCH YOUR COMPUTER
What happens in almost all recent cases is once an allegation is made and reaches the police and the police call – they will remove your computer. And what has happened is that everything that has been on – including stuff that's popped up and you've deleted – everything may be stored somewhere on the hard drive – and some naughties or illegals that came on and you thought you wiped instantly may now when found by the police be “proof”/ BE USED TO BRING ABOUT YOUR DOWNFALL – THAT BEGAN WITH THIS ALLEGATION THAT YEARS AND YEARS AGO YOU DID DO THIS MILD SEXUAL GESTURE TO THIS “CHILD” – IE WHEN HE WAS 15.
Of course the Ayatollahs of Britain have never liked it – and laws are against it – if a lavatory is a public place not a private place: three people because a third can see – all ruses have been used by the police and authorities to clamp down on it. Over the years. Over the years of our long lives. All have failed - until in some local authority conference some bright body said – just close them.
Over the years no matter what the law has said men who swing that way have often hung around and inside gentlemen's lavatories – if you read
PRICK UP YOUR EARS – the biography of the playwright Joe Orton (written by John Lahr) you will find a lot about - “cottaging” – in homie polari wasn't it called. ? Well – from many points of view – it was a very good activity in that those after – those on the hunt could see what was on offer in a way you can't with Internet dating: cruising zone, or person would like to meet person small ads in newspapers – the trolling round the toilets was “better” really ? – we wonder - it was certainly easily accessible to both gays – queers – and straights who just fancied a bit maybe – and there's a big big wodge of mankind who are like that in every culture in every time.
And they've been closed – from Piccadilly Circus – to Piccadilly Gardens
“Women don't do it” – lets have equality say the Reformers – and it's a danger to children
But I loved it – writes Ray – when I was a “child” and it never did me no harm.
There was the business though of mugging and The Portsmouth Defence
Nothing's ever good and nothing's ever evil
But toilets have gone – by and large.
However be aware – in the new Sex Offences law – to which we contributed and to which largely the “normal” gay demands for equality have been included – there is a little “just slipped in” extra.
That reads to us that from now – even wanking on your own in a cubicle locked – even with the door locked - will be a crime (NEW CRIME): an offence: new offence. Of course what's AGAINST THE LAW is not always and never has been always pursued – many of the police have been able to, like Old Sarge Dixon of Dock Green, often wink an eye – but – the point we're making is – there's a body of strong opinion now that gays have got their rights – BY GOLLY THEY'LL NOT HAVE “EXTRA RIGHTS” And strangely for an activity that's never been pleasant surely – keeping watch on public conveniences and gentlemen's lavatories – the police have had long track records of willingness to devote manpower and money to putting officers in plain clothes into the rafters above the stalls, armed with handcuffs and Polaroid . Often it has been an activity police will deny they do but we know we know they can do, have done : and sent to the loo the prettiest of their pretty young bobbies to stalk the stalls as agent provocateur. Well – as we have often said – if you were a policeman – wouldn't you rather go woofter patrol than tackling car jackers/ burglars/ mafia/ Islamic Militants.
BUT SERIOUSLY SERIOUSLY we say it again
Don't touch a “child” EVER EVER EVER – don't even look - Any any ex-“child” - …phew: PRAY.
RECENT CASE (ALL THE CASES THAT COME TO US WE TREAT WITH ABSOLUTELY CONFIDENTIALITY as to name and location)
This guy – “Y” - lives in a big city – and he is and always has been convivial, gregarious, on-town, fun-loving, outgoing, clubbing and busy, middle class, mobile, car driving, vibrant and open and welcoming to everyone. His job is in community work/ counselling type stuff in an inner city where he is (was) well regarded by clients and no shadow had crossed his career. He is in his mid 30s – but 10 years ago when he'd be about 25 a lad came round his house who'd be then 16 or 15 - and they befriended each other and “groomed” ? – and then one afternoon there was some sex – not fucking: not sucking: not even mutual masturbation – very very mild. And who would be the perpetrator? Grooming is a two way street. Who would be the instigator? Probably the lad. They were just friends and stayed friends – lad came round to dinners sometimes: attended parties sometimes. Lad grew up – went to college – found a girl friend and then married a lady slightly older than him. Our guy (the now accused Y) was invited to the wedding and after it the ex-lad and his wife came round to parties: dinner – all friends. The couple produce no children - and there are strains that the lad has talked of with “Y” – but the lad and “Y” have had no more sex apart from that one afternoon long long ago. The wife (and this may be coincidental) progresses in her career which is in social services and becomes fairly senior in a division that involves some investigations of sexual abuses. Compensation ? £££ in their sights ? Not sure. What happened – we don't know – and maybe never will know. Venom ? A friendship that twists in a tiff – maybe – because of no sex ? maybe – don't know. Was the lad/ ex-lad not up to performing well enough for his older wife ?
And one night blurted out he'd been “abused” by “Y” ?
But events transpired that one fine morning like a bolt out blue with no warning the police swooped and carted “Y” away – to the local police station – while other officers removed his computer. No charge – “just making investigations. An allegation's been made.”
“I need a solicitor”. “Granted” Solicitor attends. And then – he's released – “your computer'll be returned soon enough”. It isn't –
And then from the lad now ex-lad come abusive phone calls – “I'll get you,” but “Y” doesn't know what he's done.
Pressure is put on him and he feels unease at work – maybe he was ordered to give his work up or his project would be in the shit.
It's awful – his life is ruined. Frozen. He thinks he has to move to another city.
And the computer doesn't come back – the police say they don't know if they're going to charge or not: yet. Not yet.
Months after month – this has now gone on – five months of monthly reporting at the police station.
There just is a long queue of hard drives waiting to be forensically gone over.
THIS IS THE NEW WORLD 2004
IN OUR LIFETIME
We campaigned against the old laws – we did – pioneers before Stonewall, Outrage, The Net, Clubs, Contact ads, Gay Times – Clone Zone etc etc etc – we were there and we were queer then – people were then – it all went on then – everything almost everything happened then but everything was against the law. All illegals. And the law was wrong and when we began to campaign to change the law – for freedom from prosecution and persecution: for dignity and equality – the wise old ancient queens would say DON'T COME OUT, DON'T CAMPAIGN FOR LAW REFORM YOU'LL ROCK THE BOAT AND NO GOOD'LL COME OF THAT.
Of course the laws have changed in our lifetime and all gay activity is now legal in a way it wasn't – just children have to be protected. Everyone agrees.
And those old laws were wrong – yep: they were wrong.
They were discriminatory.
And even when not acted upon – just the existence of the old laws meant queers lived in fear of police, and fear of and actual blackmail on a scale unimaginable today.
But we wouldn't have that. And so began back in the 1960s The CAMPAIGN FOR HOMOSEXUAL EQUALITY.