by Sue Learner
‘I’ve had pupils say ‘Miss, you are trying to turn us gay’ and I ask them, ‘do you turn black during Black History Month or Turkish during Turkish month?’” Elly Barnes, a music teacher at Stoke Newington school in north London, is used to tackling such questions. Prompted by seeing homophobia around her in school on many occasions, she now runs Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) History Month here every February.
LGBT History Month was launched nationally by the lobby group SchoolsOut five years ago, and Stoke Newington school was one of the first to celebrate the event by integrating it into the curriculum. But the school has now gone one step further and become a diversity training centre, training teachers from both primary and secondary schools on equal opportunity policies, giving advice on resources and demonstrating LGBT practice lessons.
“My focus is eradicating homophobia from all schools and educational establishments by giving staff the confidence and resources to do it, along with demonstrating good practice and changing opinions under the banner of ‘educate and celebrate’,” says Barnes, who is the diversity course leader.
At the first session, Barnes briefs teachers, PGCE students and an educational psychologist on current policy and equal opportunities. Then she moves on to the part many teachers dread and fear – teaching children about LGBT.
“Many teachers are scared of celebrating LGBT as they are worried pupils will judge them and will assume they are gay,” she says. “In fact, to them, we are just a blob giving them information. Over the five years, I’ve only had three pupils ask whether I am gay.”
The teachers on the training day are keen to watch the practice lesson. A group of year 7 pupils troop into the classroom. Barnes plays a clip from the film Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, and asks them what they have seen. The children happily discuss transvestites and transsexuals and what they know. “There is a man at my auntie’s work who wears a skirt and has really hairy legs,” says one child. “Crisscross is where you like both men and women,” offers another.
Florence, aged 12, tells the class about the first wedding she went to. “It was a gay wedding and they were called Andrew and Eric, and I wanted to be a bridesmaid, but I had only known them for two years.”
Barnes asks them what they know about the words lesbian, gay and bisexual. Josiah, aged 11, brings up the issue of religion, saying: “The pope opposes homosexuality, but I don’t know why, as I think everyone should have free will.”
Barnes finishes the class saying: “The message I want to leave you with is that when you are giggling with your friends and your friend falls over and you say that is gay, think about the language you’re using.”
Afterwards, Florence says the lesson “was really valuable, as before this, we didn’t know much about gays and lesbians apart from what our parents told us”.
Josiah thinks “it is good to learn about it and people shouldn’t feel disgusted by it as lesbians and gays have the same feelings as everyone else”.
Jaden, aged 11, recounts how at his last school, “some children told another boy he shouldn’t be gay and it was kind of sad and I stuck up for him”.
Sefkan, aged 11, says the lesson was an eye-opener. “It changed my ideas about gays and lesbians as I thought it was something wrong. But it is not something wrong. In our primary school, a lot of people got bullied for being gay even though they weren’t.”
Schools often worry about how parents will react to lessons and assemblies on LGBT, and Barnes says: “It is vital we keep coming back to that word, educating not influencing.”
Over the five years, she has had only a handful of complaints. “A parent complained after her son told her he had seen a film at the school that showed two men kissing. I told her we are an inclusive school and it is part of the curriculum,” says Barnes.
On one occasion, she says, a pupil shouted abuse at her in assembly. “He was promptly removed by the head of year, and the student later came to apologise to me after talking through the issues with a behaviour mentor. A celebration of this kind is only possible with the help and support of colleagues,” she says.
Anna Gluckstein, head of ICT, relates how she once had a boy standing at the back of the class chanting “batty man, batty man” (a Jamaican term for a gay man). The lesson was on Alan Turing, a mathematician, pioneer of computer science and war-time code-breaker. “I was telling them how in the 1950s, he was arrested and tried for homosexuality and given the option of going to prison or taking injections of female hormones. He chose the injections. Two years later he committed suicide.
“When I do this lesson,” says Gluckstein, “it is to a class of children from different cultures and religions and they all tend to say that is not right, he was being oppressed. There are, of course, ones like this boy, who shout out batty man, but even he came round in the end.”
Barnes says homophobic bullying has more or less been eradicated in the school in the last five years. One key factor has been empowering pupils to report bullying.
She says: “By exploring the definitions of LGBT and looking at famous LGBT people in history, we’ve managed to change opinions and we have had a number of pupils come out during their time at school here. We have also changed the language used in the school. I used to hear the word gay being used all the time, as a derogatory term. Now we hardly hear that.”
A recent report by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission into fairness in the UK found that two-thirds of lesbian, gay and transgender students have suffered homophobic bullying and 17% have received death threats. Nearly half of secondary school teachers in England say homophobic bullying is common and only one in six believe their school is very active in promoting the rights of gay pupils.
“Every school celebrates Black History Month. Why don’t they all celebrate LGBT History Month?” says Barnes. “My dream is to take this celebration into every school and make it a statutory requirement of the curriculum.”
Patrick Strudwick has presented figures from a survey which on first glance take apart the conventional wisdom that gay men are inherently more promiscuous than their straight counterparts:
Last week one of the world’s largest dating websites, OkCupid, collated and published the results of their user “match” questions, which are designed to find out as much as they can about their 4 million members in order to help them find dates. The statistics are startling.
There is only a one percentage point difference between heterosexuals and homosexuals in their promiscuity: 98% of gay people have had 20 or fewer sexual partners; 99% of straight people have had the same number. Tellingly, OkCupid found that it is just 2% of gay people that are having 23% of the total reported gay sex.
Of course, as with all statistics, there are flaws. This sample is largely North Americans who use the internet to find dates. How, therefore, can it be representative of the general population? But are those people – gay or straight – who go online looking for love and sex really going to be less promiscuous than those that don’t? I doubt it.
For the first time we have a statistical glimpse into an unreported truth: that your average gay person’s sex life is every bit as dreary and unremarkable as a heterosexual’s. But that a tiny proportion of them are freakishly promiscuous. Sex, it would seem, is distributed as unevenly as money.
The only gay lives many people know are the loud, visible ones on the gay ‘scene’ or on Gay Pride marches, and the conventional wisdom that gay men are more promiscuous than straight men is regularly accepted, by gay and straight alike. I’ve never conflated the gay scene with the experience of gay people in the wider community though, and this survey (despite its flaws) appears to confirm that these 2% really are having that 23% of the total reported gay sex. Or does it? Commentator DazedNConfused suggests:
It doesn’t suprise me that 98% of gay men who use OKcupid have had less than 20 sexual partners.
Try conducting the same survey with Gaydar, Manhunt or Grindr users for a much more realistic figure.
(for the record I’m a very promiscuous gay man)
It’s an excellent point and addresses the larger issue under the banner of gay promiscuity: if it’s conducted safely and respectfully, what is the problem with it? Even if gay men were inherently more promiscuous than straight men, there are very sound reasons why that should legitimately be the case (absence of marriage, lower prevalence of religion, more advanced partnership agreements than in the straight world). As DazedNConfused rightly points out – the survey Strudwick uses is fundamentally flawed when it comes to online behaviour, and the results of a similar survey conducted across straight and gay dating (and sex) websites may indeed deliver a completely different result. Strudwick has a bias against promiscuous sexual behaviour, which he’s entitled to, but it’s not one we all share.
So maybe he’s wrong and that’s a good thing, or maybe he’s right. Unless you actually dig into the realities of who in the wider gay community is shagging whom, you just can’t be sure. And whatever the truth, we should be challenging what all of us (straight and gay) should be looking for in our relationships.
It turns out the Metropolitan Police are a bunch of no-nonsense Tories:
A man who placed a poster of David Cameron containing the word “wanker” in his window has described how police handcuffed him in his home on election day, threatened him with arrest, and forcibly removed what they said was offensive campaign literature.
David Hoffman, 63, said police went “completely over the top” when they visited his home in Bow, east London, and demanded he take down the poster, which had been fixed to his window for weeks.
After he expressed concern at his treatment, Hoffman says, a local inspector told him over the phone that “any reasonable person” would find his poster “alarming, harassing or distressful”. The visit from police followed a complaint from a neighbour, who told Hoffman she found the poster offensive. The word “wanker” was printed beneath a photograph of a smiling Cameron.
Apparently he was handcuffed to ‘prevent a breach of the peace’ in his own home. Wankers.
Don’t believe me? Check this out from The Sun:
Bungling officials have labelled 15,000 innocent people as criminals in the past six years.
The blunders by the Criminal Records Bureau, a Home Office agency, amount to around seven smears every day.
The victims discovered they had been branded sex offenders, violent thugs or fraudsters when they had a CRB check before a new job. Many went through lengthy appeals to clear their names.
Our Freedom Of Information probe found the CRB coughed up an incredible £290,000 last year alone in “apology payments” to the worst-affected victims.
Most of the bungles involved CRB checks being mixed up, or incorrect details being given out by staff.Others involved police releasing information which was recorded wrongly when an offence was committed.
This is the effect of large-scale state bureaucracy on society. It’s being reflected by the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA), it would be reflected through the National Identity Register, and it’s downright sinister. Supporters of the government’s authoritarian agenda insist ‘if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to worry about’, but evidence such as this keeps coming up to prove otherwise. Using a contracted-out agency to determine for employers and voluntary organisations who’s worthy and who’s not worthy in society will inevitably skew the entire basis of human relationships, and make what might otherwise be minor administrative errors catastrophies for those affected by them. It’s shameful how prepared this government has been to reduce people down to mere statistics on databases, when the evidence has been that the databases are inevitably incompetently managed and frequently abused. Far worse though has been the extent to which people have bought into the database state in the name of convenience, given the extent of the misery it’s responsible for.
Not content with putting together a legislative framework to rescind free speech and trample on due process, New Labour has now decided to embark on plans allowing your post to be intercepted in secret:
The government is now drawing up plans to amend the Postal Services Act to allow tax inspectors to intercept and open people’s mail before it is delivered. Given the state’s ambitions to collect all communications data this is hardly surprising, but we must ask ourselves how many more rights are seized by government and its agencies before Britain becomes the GDR‘s most obvious European imitator.
Currently postal workers have the right to intercept suspicious letters and packages and pass them to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) and then at an agreed moment the item is opened in front of the addressee. The change in the law will mean that HMRC will be able to open whatever it likes without the addressee being present or being made aware of the interception.
I’m sorry but this is not the behaviour of a democracy in the understood meaning of the word. But it fits precisely into their plans to redefine the relationship between the individual and state for the 21st century. Since the Enlightenment the state has been answerable to the people; New Labour’s ID strategy aims for government to moderate all interactions between individuals by controlling their identity. What then is so surprising about wanting to access their mail before they do?
We’re talking about Delroy Smellie of course, but what about the unnamed officer who caused Ian Tomlinson’s death? What about the senior officers who gave the orders for such violent policing? What about their role in the attempt to cover up the cause of Tomlinson’s death, blaming the crowd rather than their own? Tomlinson’s wife, as the run-up to the first anniversary of his death approaches, has gone on the attack:
Last August the CPS was asked to consider whether the officer should be charged with manslaughter and, weeks later, Starmer promised swift action. “My view on these things is we should move quickly,” he said, adding that he hoped for a decision “in a few months”. CPS officials later told the Tomlinson family they could expect a decision by Christmas.
“Keir Starmer has let us down personally,” said Julia Tomlinson. “Why did he say there would be a decision around Christmas? Why are we still waiting? My kids need to move on from this. They’re left without a dad now and their lives have been turned upside down over the last year, especially the four girls. He doesn’t seem to realise the pain we’re going through.”
She added: “We feel like there was a cover-up from day one, and we didn’t see it because we were nervous about the police. Now a year on it still feels like all of that is still going on. If it had been someone on the street, a civilian, who had pushed and hit Ian just before he died, and it was all caught on video, surely something would have happened by now. The officer needs to go before a jury. Let them decide what should happen to him.”
She’s right of course. It’s cut and dried what actually happened, so why are they still waiting? On the other hand I would also suggest that the TSG officer who attacked Tomlinson wasn’t the only one who deserves to face justice for causing his death that day. Putting just that officer on trial would entirely miss the point that the Met’s behaviour that day was entirely normal, and the smears against the protesters and lies about Tomlinson himself a familiar refrain when the Met’s policing has caused death or serious injury. I’m still disgusted at how long Jean Charles de Menezes was blamed for his own murder, and how effectively the system closed ranks ultimately to justify it; the same result is likely here. De Menezes’ shooter has never been charged with a crime, despite committing perjury and murder, whilst his commanding officer was promoted. Julia Tomlinson really ought not to expect much better.
Police have defended themselves against criticism by Denis O’Connor, the chief inspector of constabulary, by saying that ignoring crime problems in the vain hope that they will go away is a long established policing tactic.
O’Connor claimed that the failure to properly respond to anti-social incidents was undermining confidence in the police force, something which forces across the country have strongly refuted.
A spokesperson for Greater Manchester police explained, “Confidence comes from predictability, knowing exactly what will happen, and I assure you the people of Manchester are completely confident in predicting our response to a call about what is essentially just some noisy children.”
“Ignoring something until it goes away is a long established technique for dealing with problems – my father, an alcoholic who died at 39, swore by it.”
“There are lots of things that go away if you ignore them for long enough – things like Big Issue vendors, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and member of the public reporting anti-social behaviour.”
Chairman of the Association of Chief Police Officers, Sir Hugh Orde explained, “The placebo effect is well recognised in science, and all the police forces across the UK are doing is imitating its effects.”
“You could call it a policing placebo – we say all the right things on the phone so they feel like they’re getting actual police action, but they’re not. Not really.”
“They think someone’s coming, but they’re not, and they think someone is investigating the incident, when they aren’t.”
“In most cases people feel better for it – but I admit, that every now and again someone gets bothered by some pesky kids.”
“At the end of the day we must remember that it was Jesus who said to ‘turn the other cheek’ – and that’s what we’re doing. We’re turning it in the direction the TV in the station canteen and away from that gang burning a car at the end of your street.”
Todays press release by the Alzheimer’s Society has finally pointed out the giant elephant currently in the room of the UKs health system. Stating that the NHS currently does not have the training or resources in place to deal with the rising levels of patients with mental health issues this report is something that every single person in the country should be listening to, and getting angry about.
Please do not take this post to be anti-NHS as a whole, or an attempt to undermine the people working in it- far from it, I have been dealing with a close family member suffering from vascular dimensia (a very common form of Alzheimers) for the last 5 years – and have always found them to be beyond exceptional, working long and hard whilst being fustrated by lack of funding and assistance to go about their job to the best of their ability.
Alzheimers is one of the great unspoken diseases that is still (rather like most mental illness) hidden away, ignored and hoped to be avoided. In reality with a aging population this is a problem that will very soon be unavoidable, and out of control. In short (and I desperately hope this is a false prophesy for you) it is extremely likely that you will have to deal with the affects of Alzheimers to either yourself, or someone you hold dear.
So todays press release, a result of several months of research and investigation should worry us all- and whilst we are in a position to do something to make a difference, should be ringing every bell for it to become one of the major manifesto pledges of parties regarding the NHS in the forthcoming election.
I would like to make this a continuing story over the next few weeks, and would be really interested to hear your experiences and thoughts on the matter also. If you’d like to get involved feel free to drop a note below.
This is a repost from exactly a year ago about the government’s policing and crime bill, which contains provisions to outlaw the purchase of sex from ‘coerced’ prostitutes and should become law next year.
Whilst looking at the follow-up to the Guardian’s revelations about the government’s misinformation around the trafficking of women I thought I’d check to see if the impact on gay men had acquired any mentions following my year-old post. Bar a brief mention in an Iain Dale post I could not.
The woman from the ECP didnt defend the sex industry on Newsnight. She said the anti-trafficking crusade, premised on false statistics, has been used, first of all to justify raids, prosecutions and convictions of sex workers working together from flats. It seems that immigrant women have been particularly targeted as anti-trafficking laws have been used as an extension of immigration controls to get them deported. www.prostitutescollective.net. Secondly, she said that this crusade has been used to justify the Policing and Crime Bill which under the guise of targeting demand, that is clients, would push prostitution underground and sex workers into more danger.
Those who claim that the Policing and Crime Bill would somehow increase womens safety say nothing about the other measures which would: change the definition of soliciting on the street to make arrests easier, introduce forced rehabilitation of those arrested, and the targeting of brothels for raids and closure (It is well established that working from premises is much safer than working on the street, as women can work collectively and support each other), increase police powers to take sex workers hard won earnings.
Where are the expressions of concern or action to oppose this increased criminalization from those that claim to be concerned about victims? Did those women stop being victims when they decided to sell sex? What about the women working in Soho who were all raided a few months ago and were shouted at, called liars, threatened with prosecution. Or the women near Oxford Circus, one of whom had to lock herself in the toilet to stop the police taking (probably) illegal photos of them. Or the women in Baker Street who are raided three times in the last few months and who think they are being targeted because they are Black. Or the Black women from Leeds who was dragged out of her home in handcuffs where she worked ON HER OWN and prosecuted for running a disorderly house. Or the Brazilian woman who was convicted for trafficking for working with a few friends who she helped come over from Brazil, got imprisoned, nearly lost custody of her young son and is now facing deportation. Abuse of women doesnt seem to count with some people, who claim to care about victims, if the abusers are the police.
Convictions for offences like brothel-keeping (used against women working together with others) are soaring. More and more women are getting criminal records for what is essentially consenting sex, preventing those who may want to leave prostitution from getting other jobs, even when they are qualified for them. When New Zealand decriminalised prostitution five years ago the most dramatic change was that sex workers felt like they had more rights both to report violence but also to take action against harassment from employers. It seems that more women are saved from traffickers by other women in the sex industry than any government anti-trafficking crusade (especially if, when you look at how victims are treated, protecting vulnerable women doesnt seem to even be the aim.)
It is no accident that the Policing and Crime Bill is happening at the same time as the Welfare Reform Bill. That Bill abolishes Income Support, the only benefit single mothers and other carers have been able to rely on. Most prostitute women are mothers, especially single mothers. How many will be driven into prostitution by benefit cuts? So feminist ministers proud record will be to have driven women onto the streets with one bill, and arrest them with another.
Is this happening to gay male prostitutes, particularly migrant ones? I simply don’t know but there’s no reason to think it might well be. And, given the widespread disinterest, infact the frequent hostility, shown towards similarly marginalised LGBT asylum seekers, even those from places like Iran, there’s no reason to think that the ‘gay community’ would rush to defend them if it did.
News that Jacqui Smith – bless – has found a compromise and will outlaw hiring prossies who have pimps.
This is a somewhat watered down version of what was being pushed by various Labour ‘feminist’ MPs – the so-called Swedish model of ‘prostitution law reform’, which completely outlaws paying for sex.
I’m indebted to blogging colleague Cosmodaddy who has dug up research showing that this ain’t working:
Again it’s a seductive argument, but bear in mind (which Prostitution Reform do not) that although the criminalisation of men using female prostitutes in Sweden (the model being adopted by Jacqui Smith) was accompanied by legislation decriminalising the selling of sex, there have been undesirable outcomes:
When the prostitution market disappears underground it is harder for the authorities to intercept the persons that really need help. In Gothenburg many young women seek help to detoxify because of their addiction to heroin and almost all of them have sold sexual services. But the city’s prostitution group (social workers) seldom comes in contact with these women because they don’t show up on the streets today.
The risk of infection have gone up because if a sexseller gets infected with a sexually transmitted disease, and the authorities advise customers to the sexworker to contact them, many are afraid to do so.
If a client meets a sexworker that he/she suspects is in need of help the client is scared to contact for example the social services. Anf if a customer meets a sexworker that he/she suspects is the victim of sexual trafficking that person is today scared of going to the police. Before you could obtain evidence against traffickers and pimps based on customer’s testimony. These days they aren’t likely to participate in trials and if they are forced to testify as the same time they are prosecuted for buying sex their testimony are not credible in the same way.
I used to work in HIV prevention, OF COURSE driving sex underground isn’t a good idea! Any HIV worker worth their salt will tell you this.
If you want to stop trafficking of women the answer is policing of criminals. Full, stop. Anything else (‘let’s make a law!’) is showboating.
But further, I found the original proposals from Harman et al anti-gay. Yes, anti-gay. Not ‘good for the gays’ as the Jews might put it.
I immediately thought when the Labour ‘feminists’ trumped up this idea – they’re forgetting the gays. Again.
Gay male prostitution is not generally pimp-driven, it’s a small business. Of course there are issues (self esteem and body fascism to name but two) but just as with Andrea Dworkin and her 80s fantasies about what gay male porn was it’s not the equivalent of the heterosexual version.
Largely from my Australian experience, I had numerous friends who dabbled or supported themselves for a while or did it for a one-off. It didn’t make them community outlaws. The experience wasn’t damaging, as it might be with women. Yes, some guys on heroin do it but they weren’t even gay. Gay male prostitution is part of a sexualised culture which many feminists plain don’t like.
Just as with Dworkin the collateral oppression of gays passed Harman et al by. That they actually have ‘oppressive’ power – despite being supposedly power-less women, despite being cabinet members – passed them by.
Must be the gay=male thing.
And they were trusting that Laura Norder will play fair (if they were thinking of us at all, which I doubt). When experience tells us otherwise (just look at Terror law misapplication).
Feminists are not always the allies of gay men. Lesson.
Postscript: I note that this proposed law apparently has something about funding ‘drug dealers’ in it – that is. it’s not just about pimps. Laura Norder will make a meal of gay prossies using this ‘law’. Bless Ms. Harman + Smith et al for creating this … not.
Postscript: Harman and Smith’s incompetence gets more obvious:
Human trafficking police unit to close
Britain’s only specialist police human trafficking unit is to be shut down after two years because of a lack of funding, the government said today.
A Home Office spokeswoman confirmed that money for the Metropolitan police team, which totalled £1.8m in the first year and £700,000 in the second, would no longer be available after April.
Experts and campaigners reacted to the move with dismay. Denise Marshall, the chief executive of the Poppy Project, which helps trafficked women after they have been rescued, said she was appalled at the decision, which would have a “hugely detrimental impact”.
“This is at best foolhardy and at worst discriminatory,” she said.
Postscript: I shall be continuing this meme on pinknews. In the meantime, my friend Tania Hurst has a few thoughtful comments (nod, well worth quoting in full):
At the moment in this country it’s widely seen as socially acceptable for men to pay for sex (whether with women or other men). In current law it is the prostitute selling sex who is viewed as the criminal – not the person buying the sex.
Whether a prostitute has “freely chosen” a sex industry profession, or has been forced into it (by pimps or traffickers) is largely seen as irrelevant and unimportant by the customer.
The question is: how does one change the perception that having sex with a man or woman who has been “forced” into prostitution is wrong – and that this is effectively rape? One way is to make a law against it.
This law is making a distinction between prostitutes who’ve “chosen” to work in the sex industry from those who are being “forced” to have sex (by pimps or traffickers).* [see note below]
The new law isn’t criminialising everyone who pays for sex, but it is saying buying sex from women (or men) who have been “forced” to have sex (by pimps or traffickers) is not acceptable. This woman (or man) has not freely chosen to have sex with you – you are raping them. You have a responsibility to recognise this and to know the difference when you go out to purchase sex.
I’m in agreement with (what I think is) the motivation behind this law: 1) making it socially unacceptable to purchase sex from someone who’s been forced into it. 2) reducing the demand for and ultimately the numbers of prostitutes who are being forced to have sex.
The real question is whether this law is the right way to achieve the objectives? Can the negative impacts that your article has highlighted, be mitigated? For example, maybe customers could be exempt from prosecution if they report to police that they believe a woman they had paid-for-sex with was trafficked or pimped? Are there other ways of getting HIV and substance-abuse services to prostitutes?
Or are there other better forms or combinations of legislation? Closing down the Human Trafficking police unit doesn’t seem particularly helpful if you’re trying to reduce the numbers of trafficked women. But prosecuting traffickers alone hasn’t changed the perception that it doesn’t matter whether the prostitute you pay for has been “forced” to have sex with you or not.
I have a couple of issues with your original article:
1. The UK law appears to be different from the Swedish law: the Swedish law is criminialising everyone who pays for sex; the UK one criminalises the purchase of sex from a prostitute who’s been forced to have sex. This is very different – and you can’t assume that the negative impacts will be the same.
2. I don’t see how this law is prejudicial against gay prostitution (although I accept that the original proposals criminialising all paid-for sex may well have been). If a man buys sex from a male prostitute who isn’t being forced into having sex, then no criminal offence will have taken place. If gay male prostitution is not generally pimp-driven as you say, then this law doesn’t sound like it’s going to have any impact on gay prostitution and their customers at all!
* [I've put "chosen" and "forced" in quotes: I'm not going to get into a debate about whether a heroin addict and/or a previous victim of child abuse is really making a free choice when they sell themselves; nor am I going to discuss the varying levels of exploitation/protection that may occur in prostitute-pimp relationships]
As I said in discussion with Tania this, (my point) isn’t about heterosexual prostitution (which I may have an opinion about), it’s about the ‘collateral impact’ of law on the gay ‘community’. Tania’s point “it’s widely seen as socially acceptable for men to pay for sex” is worth quoting because I don’t think this is true and another example of something I don’t think is true in the gay community!
This idea underlines the gulf in understanding of how this issue relates in these two worlds.
And this community isn’t going to give much of a s**t about people like prostitutes – there is zero comment already on this proposed law. There are a lot of issues here, but it’s unlikely that many of them in relation to gay prostitutes are being even vaguely considered. That’s my point.
Last Friday Vote for a Change held a protest outside the Houses of Parliament in support of a more proportional voting system. The zombie theme was supposed to signify that our voting system is dead but going on anyway and destroying our democracy in the process. If you support a referendum for proportional representation to be introduced as the UK’s voting system click here.
Last night I attended a vigil in Trafalgar Square for Ian Baynham, the gay man recently murdered there. I’ve written recently about why gay hate might be so much in the ascendant once more, but last night was cause for optimism. Thousands of people – gay, straight, white, every ethnic minority under the sun, older, younger, you name it everyone was there to make a stand against hate. Friends and family of Ian’s were in attendance, some of them spoke and shared their private memories of a man lost because he dared to stand up for who he was.
The video is of TV personality Sue Perkins, reading out a list of people lost to homophobic hate in the last ten years. It was sobering to experience, and remains sobering to watch.
Join me at the vigil the week after next for Ian Baynham, the gay man murdered in Trafalgar Square:
A vigil has been organised to pay tribute to Ian Baynham, the gay man who died this week after being attacked in London’s Trafalgar Square.
The event was planned by members of a Facebook group called 17-24-30, which remembers those killed and injured by Soho bomber David Copeland. It was responsible for organising the London vigil after the Tel Aviv gay shooting in August.
It will be held between 8 and 10pm in Trafalgar Square on Friday, October 30th.
Reassuringly there have been arrests:
Police hunting for the killers of a 62-year-old gay man who was beaten to death in Trafalgar Square have arrested two 17-year-old girls and one 18-year-old boy.
Ian Baynham was attacked on September 25th. After suffering brain damage, his life support machine was switched off on Tuesday.
According to a Metropolitan Police spokesman, the girls were arrested at their homes in south-east London, as was the 18-year-old male.
They are being held at separate police stations and will be questioned.
Makes you wonder whether Jan Moir blames him for his own murder, doesn’t it?