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It’s 2017, Jeremy ~ not 1975

aaa-acorbyn

Does he choose to be a doddering old fart?

Watched too much of It Ain’t Half Hot, Mum?

Jeremy Corbyn (67) is leader of the Labour Party, leader of what is (allegedly) the official opposition in the UK parliament, and appears to be stuck firmly in the 1970s.

Speaking from his offices at the start of LGBT History Month – because Labour exploit everything and everybody to get themselves noticed – in a rambling and waffling speech, the Labour leader spoke of people who “chose to be gay, chose to be lesbian”, quickly wrapped up his speech, and disappeared without taking any questions.

In the video of the speech, posted on the Pink News Facebook page, distinct murmers are heard amongst the invited guests as he comes out with the gaffe.

The Labour Party have since given a statement to Pink News, saying that “Jeremy clearly doesn’t believe that being gay is a choice. He obviously meant people should be able to choose how they live their lives.”

I have problems with that. The first of them is that Jeremy Corbyn was not talking off the top of his head; he was reading from a prepared speech, typewritten on four (yes, four, told you he was waffling) sheets of A4 paper. As the leader of the opposition and one of Britain’s largest political parties, one would imagine that Mr Corbyn has a press office and advisors. So did he run the speech past them first, and if so, if he did not spot his gaffe, how come they did not? If he did not ask anyone to proofread his speech, then I would equally ask why not?

But my main issue comes with the Labour Party response to complaints about his mistake, and that is the magic word is missing; “sorry”. Jeremy Corbyn did not comment on his speech himself, but instead a spokesperson did so on his behalf, saying he did not mean what he said. Neither Corbyn nor that spokesperson have actually said “sorry”.

I am not for one moment accusing Jeremy Corbyn of being a homophobe ~ well, not an intentional one at least. But he is a straight man of the older generation, and as much as he would hate to admit it, I suspect that his views on sexuality have been somewhat coloured by the culture and times of his younger days. I personally am old enough to recall (just ~ shaddup you lot) television and movies in the 1970s, with the likes of Frankie Howerd, Kenneth Williams, Charles Hawtry, John Inman, Dick Emery, Danny La Rue, etc, playing camp “mincing poofs” ~ the BBC sitcom “It Ain’t Half Hot, Mum” even had Windsor Davies calling the concert party “poofs” every episode ~ and we were all supposed to, and did, laugh at that. Even that odious fucking Nazi and very unfunny ‘comedian’ Jim Davidson had a go at it.

Okay, okay, so I am one of the biggest camp mincing poofs going. But that’s just me, darlings. I can’t help being FABULOUS!!!.

But all the same, those TV shows and movies did a great deal of harm by ingraining inaccurate stereotypes about gay men and others within the LGBT community, which we still live with unto this day.   And know what?  That was 40 years ago.

Anyone can make a mistake, particularly if they have been brought up in that kind of culture. But see when they do make such a mistake? I expect them to put their hands up, admit they made a glaring mistake, say “sorry”, mean it, and endeavour not to do it again.

What I do not expect is for the leader of a major political party to make such a mistake in a carefully-written speech, for such an auspicious occasion, with neither themselves nor anyone else in their party picking up on it and correcting it, or after having made that mistake, not having the guts to actually say “sorry”.

Speaking of LGBT activism overseas, Jeremy Corbyn stated “After all, an injury to one is an injury to all.”  Quite so, Jeremy ~ so learn from your own words.

I also question one claim that Jeremy Corbyn made in his speech, that he was instrumental in ‘saving’ a gay centre from the neo-Nazi National Front. Corbyn claimed that in the 1970s there were derelict buildings, one of which was taken over by gay activists as the “North London Gay Centre”. He went on to claim that the National Front were going to attack the centre, and he and other community councillors gathered the local community to chase the NF off.

I had never heard this story, but it did ring a bell of the reports I have read about the courageous “Brixton Faeries” and such a centre in south London. The South London Gay Community Centre started life when some gay men broke into a boarded-up shop on 78 Railton Road, Brixton, London in 1974. They remained there for the next two years before being forcibly evicted in 1976. During that time they highlighted not only LGBT rights, but the poverty and rampant racism (including a great deal of which came at the hands of the Metropolitan Police) which existed in Brixton at the time.  A group from the centre – the Brixton Faeries – took activism against homophobic and racist pubs.  They stood by their community, and their community stood by them. When the NF did indeed come a-marching down Railton Road to picket the centre, it was the local Union Place Community Resource Centre who supported the gay centre, and sent the NF packing.

Far be from me to ever call Jeremy Corbyn a liar, but a search of the internet turned up nothing for a North London Gay Centre, and I would suggest that his memory is playing tricks on him. If that is the case, and he made no attempt to check his facts on that first, then I would seriously suggest his suitability for the leader of the opposition, or even (“Shudder!!!”) a future British Prime Minister.

Of course, it may well be I who is mistaken. And if either Mr Corbyn or anyone else can enlighten me as to this north London centre, then I will admit I was wrong, and I’ll say sorry, and mean it ~ because that’s what nice people do when they are in the wrong, Jeremy.

I do not for one moment attempt to hide my antipathy towards the Labour Party, collectively or Jeremy Corbyn as their leader. Labour have betrayed their working class support and roots ~ particularly true here in Scotland ~ and Jeremy Corbyn has made so many u-turns that he is now spinning erratically in the road, he wouldn’t know a socialist if one bit him on the bum, and enforcing a three-line whip on his own MPs to vote in favour of the Tory government taking the UK out of the EU was nothing short of cowardly and hypocritical in my opinion.

But when the leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition in 2017 can make comments about people choosing their sexuality ~ and fails to say sorry, and whose memory appears to be failing them, then they are either an out-of-date anachronism, or they are just simply past it. Either way, their suitability for any public office has to seriously be called into question.


The story in Pink News and the video can be found here:

http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2017/02/02/labour-obviously-jeremy-corbyn-does-not-believe-being-gay-is-a-choice/

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“Turing’s Law” Passed in England and Wales

_0000TuringGood – but not good enough.

Thousands of deceased gay and bisexual men in England and Wales convicted of sexual offences for partaking in gay sex when it was still illegal were pardoned posthumously when the Policing and Crime Bill received Royal Assent on 31 January 2017.

The Act is known as Turing’s Law, recognising the ill-treatment of the gay computer scientist Alan Turing, who committed suicide in 1954 after his conviction for Gross Indecency. Turing was given a posthumous Royal Pardon in 2013, but the new Act pardons 50,000 to 100,000 men convicted of Gross Indecency with Another Man or Buggery before 1967.

Justice minister Sam Gyimah said it was a “truly momentous day… …We can never undo the hurt caused, but we have apologised and taken action to right these wrongs.” This is the same Sam Gyimah who last year infamously ‘filibustered’ a Bill in the Westminster Parliament; speaking out its alloted time and thereby preventing a vote being taken upon it.

There are some however who do not think the Act goes far enough Scottish National Party (SNP) MP John Nicholson, who tabled the Bill filibustered by Sam Gyimah, asked what provision there will be for those men still living. The Prime Minister, Theresa May, replied that men still living could make applications for pardons. In 2016 Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced that the SNP administration in the devolved Scottish Government is about to introduce their own legislation, under which men still living will be automatically pardoned, along with those deceased, which Mr Nicholson was very quick to point out.

There are very good reasons for doing this. Many of the men convicted are now very elderly and simply physically unable to go and get the forms and fill them out, or indeed fill them out online. A caller to LBC Radio on 1 February 2017 also highlighted another potential problem. He stated he was a gay man who had been convicted, served time in prison, and had subsequently changed his identity. Should he have to apply for a pardon, that would mean having to use his original identity. If the pardon was automatic for living persons, there would be no need for him to run this risk of being exposed.

The Act must be welcomed, as must the upcoming legislation in Scotland, but there is still fault on both sides of the border. Many, myself included, feel that a ‘pardon’ is insufficient, as it still assumes guilt. What is needed is for all convictions completely quashed and a clear apology given, to both the deceased and the living.

There may even be an argument for monetary compensation for those living. After all, many of them faced imprisonment, violence from police officers/prison officers/fellow inmates (including rape in many cases), some fines, most lost their jobs, and were ostracised by family, friends, and society in general.

Those are lost lives, stolen by the state, and those men affected and still alive deserve a HUGE sorry – preferably along with a big, fat cheque.

And while LGBT rights campaigner Peter Tatchell maintains that the Act will pardon men convicted of sexual offences “under discriminatory anti-gay laws between 1885 and 2003”, I question if that is actually the case. I cannot find anything in the Act which mentions men convicted of “underage” gay sex between 1967 and 2001. To explain, the gay age of consent was set at 21 in 1967. It was not until 1994 that it was lowered to 18, and in 2001 it was lowered again to 16, to bring it into line with the age of consent for heterosexuals. This means that there are a great many men still alive today who were convicted of having sex with a “minor”, with all of the attendant stigma that carries. Are they to be pardoned? And if not, why not?

We should never forget the words of Tom Robinson:

Have you heard the story about Peter Wells,
who one day was arrested and dragged to the cells?
For being in love with a man of eighteen;
the vicar found out they’d been having a scene.
The magistrates sent him for trial by the Crown;
he even appealed but they still sent him down.
He was only mistreated a couple of years ~
cos even in prison they “look after” the queers.
(Tom Robinson, “Glad to be Gay”, original version)

All in all, the Act is a step in the right direction, but with all the deaths, the heartache, the loss of liberty, loss of family and friends, ostracisation, violence from the authorities, prison inmates and members of the public alike, loss of livelihoods and much, much more which anti-gay UK laws produced, neither the new Act nor the upcoming legislation in the devolved Scottish Government go nearly far enough to addressing past wrongs.

Get the cheque books out, Theresa and Nicola.

Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes

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John Nicolson MP (SNP)

Or, never trust a Tory.

I have never for the life of me ever understood how any LGBT+ person in the UK can be a member of or support the Conservative Party. It really seems like turkeys voting for Christmas, and this is not personal on my part. Okay, so it is. I make no bones about the fact that I think all Tories are scum who need to meet with an accident down a dark close. But the fact is I could never support the Conservative Party, on the grounds that I am evolved way beyond the primordial soup and qualify as a human being.

But people of all sexualities and gender do exist within the Tories. Even the leader of the Scottish Conservatives (a rare and endangered species, on a par with porcine birds), Ruth Davidson, is openly lesbian and has been in a relationship with her partner for many years.

Therefore, with such diversity, the Tories can be trusted with LGBT+ legislation, right? Wrong. Dead wrong.

On Thursday, 20 October, John Nicolson, openly gay Scottish National Party (SNP) MP for East Dunbartonshire, tried to introduce a Private Member’s Bill in the House of Commons for legislation which would give wide-ranging pardons to gay and bisexual men still alive who were convicted of having sex with underage men when the gay age of consent was still 21. The Bill had previously received support from Conservative and Labour Party MPs, as well as Mr Nicolson’s own fellow SNP MPs. The Tories even promised not to block the Bill.

The Bill was touted as a “Turing Bill” or “Turing’s Law”, after the gay computer scientist Alan Turing, who was convicted of offences of gay sex with minors, underwent voluntary chemical castration, and subsequently took his own life. He was pardoned in 2012.

When the Bill was introduced in the House of Commons however, Conservative Justice Minister Sam Gyimah spoke on the government’s opposition to the bill. And he spoke on, and spoke on, and spoke on; eventually taking up the full 25 minutes of debate, when the Bill should have gone to the vote. There were cries of “shame” from supporters as it became clear that the government were deliberately setting out to scupper the Bill.

Mr Nicolson’s Sexual Offences (Pardons) Bill proposed a blanket pardon for all dead and living men convicted of sex with minors when gay age of consent was 21. The government opposition quite insidiously concentrated upon men convicted of sex with boys under 16, and victims of rape. This is wholly disingenious, as John Nicolson’s Bill had already taken such men into consideration and they would not be covered by the Bill.

Instead, the day before the Bill was to be read, the Tories did a deal with the Liberal-Democrat Party, accepting an amendment to the 2012 Policing and Crime Bill by (unelected) Lib-Dem Lord Sharkey, whereby those convicted but since deceased would be granted an automatic pardon, and those living could apply to the Home Office for a “disregard process” to clear their names. The all-too-obvious elephant in the room here is that the Sharkey amendment would automatically clear the names of dead men who did prey upon little boys and under-16 teens.  Former Liberal leader Cyril Smith about to have his name cleared, anyone?

Besides which of course, many of the men convicted and still alive are very elderly, some in their 80s and 90s. Their lives already ruined, to ask them to go through the trauma of applying to have their names cleared is despicable and thoughtless beyond belief.

Lyn Brown, Labour MP for West Ham, stated “The living would have to apply for a disregard and only then would they be granted a pardon. The onus would be placed right back on the victims of injustice, which, I worry, rather reduces the quality of the apology being offered.”

I partially agree, except for one point; the planned amendment is not even an apology. It is a pardon, which still presumes guilt. Some Tory wets stand by this. Former Tory MP Harvey Proctor, himself once convicted of having sex with a young man of under 21, stated on LBC Radio that as it was a crime when he was convicted, then there’s no need to apologise to him.

John Nicolson’s Bill would have set aside nearly 50,000 convictions, of which approximately 15,000 apply to men still alive today. It was a brilliant opportunity, which the government pretended to support, and then pulled that support at the last minute, then completely abused the procedures of the Westminster parliament to bury it.

John Nicolson later stated “I’m very disappointed that the Tory government decided to filibuster and talk out the Turing Bill.

“The bill was intended to be kind and bring closure to generations of gay and bisexual men found guilty of homophobic crimes no longer on the statute book.

“Many of these men are now elderly and have lived with unjust convictions for years – my bill would have given them an automatic pardon.

“I was delighted to receive cross party support from Conservative, Labour and SNP MPs so I was sad on their behalf as well as on behalf of the men that would have been pardoned to see the Tory Justice Minister use political manoeuvring to see off a popular bill.

“As MPs of all parties made clear today there was no good reason for the government to block this Bill. The compromise amendment being suggested instead does not go far enough to right the wrongs committed against these men and their families.

“The Tory whips promised that there would be ‘no tricks and no games’ on their side but it is to their shame that they broke their word.”

Really John? And what else do you expect from a heterosexual Tory Prime Minister, Theresa May, who “changed her mind” on equal marriage and stood against adoption of children by gay parents, from heterosexual Sam Gyimah, and from equally heterosexual John Sharkey – whose own party leader, Tim Farron, is a God-botherer who abstained on the equal marriage vote?

Ain’t it amazing how all these straights seem to think they know what is best for us queers? Ever been patronised? You have now.

And of course, we all know what the real opposition to John Nicolson’s Bill was: “SNP BAD!”; to the government’s mind, if it’s an SNP idea, it must be opposed, simple as that.


Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes; “I fear the Greeks, even when they bear gifts.” (Virgil, Aeneid; alluding to the legend of the wooden horse of Troy)