On 10th February ,almost exactly a year after its publication on 17th February 2015, Nikki Morgan finally published the governments response to the report of the all-party Education Select Committee on Life Lessons;PSHE and SRE in Schools.life-lessons1

The cross-party committee recommended that PSHE/SRE be a statutory subject .it also suggested that SRE [sex and relationships] be retitled ‘relationships and sex’—-although perhaps its own title of ‘life lessons’ would be a lot snappier and descriptive
On page 53 of the report, it said,
“We recommend that the DfE develop a workplan for introducing age-appropriate PSHE and RSE as statutory subjects in primary and secondary schools ,setting out its strategy for improving the supply of teachers able to deliver this subject and a time table for achieving this .”

More than 100 organisations ,including Hull and East Riding Labour LGBT+Network and Hull and East Riding LGBT Forum, submitted evidence to the inquiry—-the vast majority of them calling for statutory provision. The vast majority of them welcomed the report—–albeit with reservations—-perhaps inevitably, In June 2015 the newly elected government come up with a response that the Tory Chair of the Select Committee, Neil Carmichael , described as ‘feeble’ The letter to from Nikki Morgan to Neil Carmichael came only after considerable pressure not only from him but from the chairs of three other select committees. And here the nub of it is


This response might fairly be summed up as ‘fair words and no action’ Across the political parties and in just about every organisation voluntary and statutory in the field there is almost unanimous agreement that unless the subject is given statutory status the subject will not be given proper status, teachers will not be properly trained and supported and it will not be properly resourced.

And, of course, there will be many youngsters who will not do the subject at all.

Whether the governments fundamental objection is a ideological neo-liberal objection to an education secretary daring to tell schools what to do—-and helping them to do it—or Scrooge economics have asserted themselves again—it is clear that Nikki Morgan has FAILED her own life lesson—-that without statutory provision millions of youngsters will be left in ignorance and in danger. Since when was it the job of an education secretary to keep kids in ignorance rather than educate them?
We will join with all the other organisations in pushing for proper statutory provision rather than fine words and no meaningful action
Unless it is done the bullying,the mental distress, the violence and suicides will continue

No young person should be left in ignorance. The price they pay is far too great

Colin Livett 21/2/16

We feel no child should be left in fear and ignorance just because of the school they went to.
We feel no child should be left in fear and ignorance just because of the school they went to.

Scandal at Sculcoates Workhouse May 1896


Sculcoates Workhouse in the !890s
The Workhouse was built in 1843-4 on Beverley Road in Hull. It housed 500 destitute people and had an infirmary attached. Male and female residents–even married ones–were strictly segregated. On the setting up of the NHS in 1948 it became the Western General Hospital until its demolition in 2002 when the site was used for the ill-fated Endeavour High School
The Hull Daily Mail of 1896 was, in most respects , a very different newspaper from that of today. It was the main source—-apart from gossip—of local news. It was a broadsheet——often of only 4 pages .There were two editions a day so that the second actually contained some of todays rather than yesterdays news. The front page was given over to small ads—-and the print was VERY small.In one respect ,however, it was remarkably similar to todays paper—much of it was given over to cases—-especially the more scandalous ones—that had come before the local courts.Then as now there was assumed to be an insatiable appetite for scandal—–provided of course that it was other people who were involved! Therefore although the following report in the second edition of 5th May only appeared in small print on an inside page it would doubtless have attracted the attention of many local people.It read as follows

Gross Indecency at Sculcoates Workhouse
“At the Hull Police Court this morning Robert Peacock .a young man, and William Joseph Tomlinson. a youth, were charged with gross indecency at the Sculcoates Workhouse. Deputy Chief Constable Jones prosecuted.
The defendants were inmates of the workhouse and were seen together committing the offence with which they are charged.
Yesterday the Master [of the workhouse] was informed of what had taken place ,hence the prisoners arrest. Remanded eight days.

It is interesting to note that the blushes of the readers were spared by not going into more detail. In a similar case in Grimsby the year before hen three young shipping apprentices had been accused of the same offence the court had been ordered cleared of all females before the details of the charges were givenOne might also reflect that ,given the fact that even married couples were segregated it was perhaps surprising that more such incidents had not taken place!

Helen Smith, of Lincoln University, in her recent study “Masculinity ,Class and Same Sex Desires in Industrial England 1895-1959” observed that ‘men in the north seemed to come before judge and jury due to misfortune or stupidity’ Surely Robert and William must be counted among the unfortunate. Where else were they to make love?

There does appear, however, to be no evidence that the local police went on any of the organised persecutions of the 1950’s for example. Of course there were no ‘gay’ bars—-indeed even the word was not in use in the modern sense. But that did not mean that many men did not know where to go to meet other men in the hope of sex. There would have been the insulubrious public urinals and other places—-but also there would have been the public houses where some men went to look for women and others for other men. In a major port such as Hull there would have been no lack of such pubs.It was when they were trying to find some private place that there was likely to be difficulty—and danger!
It was almost exactly a year after Oscar Wilde had been sentenced to two years hard labour and the judge had bemoaned the fact that he could not hand down a harsher sentence. Oscar Wilde made his famous comment about ‘the love that dare not speak its name’ Meanwhile ,on the Derbyshire moors , Socialist and LGBt pioneer Edward Carpenter had set up his love nest with another man—-and was very willing to speak its name—-even if the word ‘homosexual’ had not yet been coined.

Sex, Liberty and Socialism at Millthorpe

---In A Free Society
—In A Free Society

Edward Carpenter [1844-1929] was a pioneer not only of the English Socialist movement but of sexual freedom and the fight against the subjection of women and colonial peoples. To Carpenter [most of whose works are sadly out of print] he argued that personal liberty, including same sex love was an integral part of socialism. Homogenic or Urania or the love between comrades , was innate and could not and should not be suppressed. Socialism without liberty was no socialism worthy of the name.Carpenter had bought Milthorpe with money inherited from his father in 1890. He had already been living openly with another man and in 1898 George Merrill—a young man from the Sheffield slums moved in with him and stayed together until Merrills death in 1928—-although not entirely monogomosly. Millthorpe became a centre or visiting young men from Sheffield, travelling socialists and literati. There is a story told by closet homosexual novelist E.M. Forster that he was so delighted at having his backside fondled by Merrill on a visit to Millthorpe in 1912 that he was inspired to pen one of the very earliest ‘gay’ novels—‘Maurice’ the following year. Typically though it was not published until after his death in 1970.
But there is no doubt whatsoever that George was the love of Edwards life. And he did not hide it. Or refrain from advocating it for others —as part pf a wider socialist liberationmerrill

Carpenter and Merrill at Millthorpe

This is not the place to write a detailed account of Carpenters contribution to the Socialist and Labour movement.In brief as early as 1880 he had set up the Sheffield Socialist Society, in 1893 he was a founder member of the ILP [see poster below] In 1896 he penned the once famous socialist anthem ‘England Arise’In 1924 he was honoured on the occasion of his 80th.birthday by the TUC -meeting in Hull- for the huge contribution that he had made to socialist thought and the labour movement

Poster from 1893 for meeting in Atterciffe , Sheffield to set up a branch of the ILP . The subject of his lecture—the future of labour-has a decidedly topical ring to it

Sex and Socialism in Poetry and Song

Finally—-to give an idea of the breadth of Carpenters achievements his homoerotic poem Summer Love and a very relevant verse from ‘England Arise’

Summer Heat by Edward Carpenter [extract]

Sun burning down on back and loins,penetrating the
skin,bathing their flanks in sweat,
Where they lie naked on the warm ground,and the
ferns arch over them,
Out in the woods, and the sweet scent of fir needles
Blends with the fragrant nearness of their bodies;

In-armed together ,murmuring,talking
Drunk with wine of Eros’ lips
Hourlong,while the great wind rushes in the branches,
And the blue above lies deep beyond the fern-fronds
and fir-tips;
Till,with the midday sun,fierce scorching,smiting
Up from their woodland lair they leap,and smite.
And strike with wands,and wrestle,and bruise each other,
In savage play and amorous despite

And from ‘England Arise’


“Across Your Face a Web of Lies is Woven
Laws that are falsehoods pin you to the ground
Labour is mocked—its just reward is stolen
On its bent back sits idleness encrowned
How long while you sleep
Your harvest shall it reap?
Arise, oh England—for the day is hear”

There can be little doubt that some of the lies and laws that are falsehoods that Carpenter was referring to were those on sexuality. There can be little doubt either that—-to an extent–in this respect England has indeed arise. But we still have a way to go. And many ,in an age of neo-liberalism-and ever increasing inequality–would recognise our just rewards being stolen.
Edward Carpenter wanted a society in which EVERYONE —regardless of gender,race or sexuality lived and worked together in Freedom ,Liberty and Equality. Some of Carpenters language may appear archaic but the essential message of no freedom without socialism and no socialism without freedom is absolutely bang up to date


Colin Livett Feb. 2016


We honour all the victims—–including the often forgotten LGBT victims of the holocaust and subsequent genocides.
In todays world bigotry and hatred still target our community. In several countries homosexuality carries the death sentence
In Britain hate crimes against people because of their ethnicity, religion ,disability or sexuality are illegal. Serving soldiers such as those who liberated the death camps no longer go to prison for loving someone of the same sex.
Yet still the hatred which allowed these crimes to happen—-and still happen -goes on . Hate crime rates are soaring. Officialdom thought it was acceptable to tag some refugees with a red wrist band—–and some became victims of the hate merchants whipped up by the shameless scapegoating by some of the popular press. Yellow Star or Red Wrist Band. What is the difference?
So let us resolve to honour ALL the victims by stopping the hatred that allowed it to happen in the first place and which is—sadly–still with us 71 years after the first liberation

In February 2015 the all-party Education Select Committee ,under the chairmanship of Graham Stuart published its report on PSHE [Personal,Social and Health Education} and SRE [Sex and Relationship Education } in schools. Just about every organisation concerned with the education and welfare of young people submitted evidence. These included Hull and East Riding Labour LGBT+ Network and Hull and East Riding LGBT Forum .The overwhelming majority of these favoured some form of mandatory PSHE anD SRE education in schools.
The report -supporting mandatory provision- when it appeared-was broadly welcomed-including by us—–although inevitably it did not cover ALL of the points that we would have liked it to have done {See previous blogs for details].
There was to be no government response until July 2015 [well in mitigation there HAD been an election]
This is what the new chair of the Education Committee,Tory MP Neil Carmichael said of the eventual response [16th July]

“The response made by the Government today is disappointing.

Ministers entirely sidestep the call made by MPs in the closing months of the last parliament to give statutory status to PSHE.

They also reject or brush over nearly every other recommendation made by the previous Select Committee in their key report published five months ago.

It is unclear why it should have taken the government so long to publish such a feeble response .
The inquiry found the Governments strategy for improving PSHE and SRE in schools to be weak .Yet there is nothing in this response to reassure Parliament-or young people-that the situation will now improve.

Ministers know that PSHE requires improvement in 40% of schools ,yet they appear to see no urgency in tackling this.

I am confident that the new Committee will pursue this matter with ministers making use of any new evidence and questioning the Secretary of State further in due course

Well—-perhaps it all depends on what you mean by ‘due course. but there is no evidence of even a bleat from the Select
Meanwhile young people continue to suffer the consequences of being left in ignorance such as bullying,mental illness,drug addiction ,STIs sexual abuse and—-in a few tragic cases suicides.The government is failing in its duty to protect its young people from harm. It is as simple and as tragic as that.
Schools need to be properly resourced and given proper guidance. Teachers must be trained and supported. And local councils must have the backing of mandatory powers .At present the government is making it almost impossible for local council education portfolio holders and schools to do a proper job in ensuring the welfare of their young people.

Here is Councillor Rosie Nicola Hull City Council’sPortfolio Holder for Learning,Skills and Safeguarding Children as reported in the Hull Daily Mail on 27th November

“I am disappointed that the Government seems to be ignoring the expert advice currently available on this matter ”

In effect the government is preventing her from her prime duty of protecting children

Hull and East Riding Labour LGBT launched their petition for mandatory SRE/PSHE in all schools at Hull Pride in 2013—but this was aimed only at our local authorities when it was presented in 2014

Diana Johnson MP,and Cllr Rosie Nicola receive our petition from Danny Norton of Hull and East Riding Labour LGBT+ Network
Diana Johnson MP,and Cllr Rosie Nicola receive our petition from Danny Norton of Hull and East Riding Labour LGBT+ Network

The time has come for more action

We could start by trying to prod the members of the Select Committee to get the government to act.

The four Labour Members—-who should surely be pushing this are
Ian Austin [Dudley North] Kate Hullern {Blackburn] Ian Mearns {Gateshead] and Kate Osamor {Edmonton]
And the Shadow Education Secretary is Lucy Powell[Manchester Central
Please remind them of their duty on PSHE—and make a bit of a noise

Colin Livett 21st Jan 206



On tuesday 1st December, World Aids Day,there will be a candlelit vigil on the theme of ‘getting’ to zero’ This will be held at BricWorks ,22-23 Story Street Hull between 6 and 8 pm. All are welcome and refreshments will be availble.

On the previous evening, Monday 30th. November at 6.00pm for a 6.30 start there will be a screening of the highly acclaimed film “The Normal Heart’ at Kardomah 94 on Alfred Gelder Street. This film is a timely reminder of the onset of the HIV-AIDS crisis in New York City in the early 1980s and is billed as ‘taking an unflinching look at the USAs sexual politics at the time as gay activists and their allies in the medical community fought to expose the truth about the burgeoning epidemic to a city and nation in denial.’

‘Don’t die of ignorance’ was the governments slogan in the UK when they launched their Aids Awareness Campaign—–and then introduced Section 28 to ensure that it was made very difficult to talk about in schools.It was ignorantly seen as something that only affected the gay community and schools were not allowed to ‘promote’ homosexuality by talking about it. So it was stigmatised and people stayed ignorant. And many died. And across the world HIV rates are on the rise again


A report published this week by the Human Dignity Trust on HIV in Commonwealth Countries in advance of the Heads of Commonwealth meeting in Malta next weekend.
The shameful fact is that in 40 0f the 53 Commonwealth Countries Homosexuality is—to greater or lesser extent–criminalised -and in several it is getting worse rather than better. It cocludes
1. That Criminalisation of Homosexuality is a Commonwealth Problem. In many cases anti-gay laws were imposed by the colonial power [Britain]-and in many cases the independent countries have made this even harsher. The Commonwealth
accounts for about 305 of the worlds population ,but around 60% of HIV infections.
2 That there is a direct link between criminalisation and soaring infection rates
As Jonathan Cooper,Chief Executive of the Human Dignity Trust has commented ‘You will never get the AIDS crisis under control while gay men are criminalised. It’s literally not possible where gay men are shamed and stigmatised.’
Which sounds remarkably like New York in the early 1980s!
3. Global funding to tackle the worldwide AIDS crisis is in serious decline

The British Government MUST do whatever it can to promote decriminalisation.
It is not only denying a fundamental human right by not doing so but is—–quite literally —a death sentence

In Britain

Rates of infection in the UK—among ALL communities are also on the rise again

And here too the government is culpable.

1.George Osborne has announced—in advance of the Spending Review that £200,000,000 will be cut from local councils public health budgets . This matters because they are the deliverers of many specialist sexual health services. Cuts would be inevitable and affect patient access and limit the range of treatment. They would also limit educational and awareness programmes helping to boost infection rates. Again people will be dying of ignorance.

2 The government has failed to respond to the Education Select Committee Report supporting mandatory Personal Social and Health Education [PSHE] —including meaningful education on HIV for our young people





Jeremy Corbyn. Long term LGBT Champion
Jeremy Corbyn. Long term LGBT Champion

Jeremy Corbyn’s new Shadow Cabinet has attracted much publicity; not all of it favourable. But two very welcome aspects are that for the first time ever there is a majority of women members. It also has the most LGBT – friendly credentials. Not only did all 33 members vote in favour of Equal Marriage , but the personal records of those who will be dealing with LGBT rights are also excellent. They auger well for translating promises into action. Some promises, as outlined in the election manifesto, need working on. But the hopeful thing is that many of them have strong cross party support and, with our active campaigning, actually stand a chance of being realised. Of course Labour must lead the way. But we will need allies as we always have to bring promises to fruition. We simply cannot wait for the next Labour Government to act. More importantly neither can the victims of discrimination in the UK and throughout the world. We look first at the record of members of the shadow cabinet, a couple of front bench spokespeople and then at the campaigns, some of which we have been involved in, such as those against conversion therapy and for the exoneration of the victims of the inhuman gross indecency laws as well as for LGBT friendly RSE [relationsips and sex education] in ALL schools. Firstly the personal.

Jeremy Corbyn

Corbyn has had a consistently excellent record of supporting LGBT rights since he first entered parliament in 1983, right at the height of Thatcher’s ignorant homophobia when it was anything but fashionable to be pressing for the rights of LGBT people. He opposed the infamous Clause 28. He supported Equal Marriage. He advocates LISTENING to the trans communities to see what action they want taking. He fully supports tackling homophobia in all schools by a compulsory fully LGBT inclusive Relationships and Sex Education. He has also pointed out that austerity has had a disproportionately adverse affect on LGBT people; for example homeless young LGBT people for whom charities such as the Albert Kennedy Trust have found it increasingly difficult to meet the desperate and increasing needs of.
Corbyn has also advocated that the UK take a much more proactive stand in support of LGBT rights around the world. He has fully supported (and confirmed) the appointment of Lord (Michael) Cashman as International Human Rights Envoy [see below]. He has spoken up in favour of better treatment of LGBT Asylum Seekers; and promised to try to put pressure on the devolved Northern Ireland Assembly to place LGBT Rights there on an equal footing to those in the rest of the UK.

Kate Green MP

Kate Green, newly appointed shadow for Women and Equalities, has been MP for Urmston and Stretford in Greater Manchester since 2010. In 2013 she was appointed an ‘ambassador’ for the excellent LGBT Charity the Albert Kennedy Trust, which has done so much to help homeless LGBT youngsters. She has a 100% voting record of supporting LGBT rights since entering parliament. Her deputy will be the newly elected MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood Cat Smith, who may well take over a large chunk of responsibility for LGBT Rights

Kate Green MP Shadow Equalities Minister
Kate Green MP
Shadow Equalities Minister

Angela Eagle MP

Although Angela does not hold any direct responsibility for LGBT Rights in the shadow cabinet she is still a strong ally. She had responsibility for drawing up Labour’s recent LGBT Manifesto, which whilst not perfect of course was nevertheless one of the most progressive and far reaching ever put before the British electorate. It can still be worked for even in opposition, because many of the proposals had cross-party support. The manifesto stated that it wanted to transform legal equality into actual equality. Well we would question whether we, especially trans people, entirely have the former, but we can hardly quibble with the latter noble aim. That must be our next objective.
Angela is one of the very few ‘out ‘ Lesbian MPs, and is MP for Wallasey, she is in fact an East Riding lass (born in Bridlington), and sent a very warm welcoming message to us when our group was set up in 2012. We hope her influence is fully felt on LGBT matters in Jeremy Corbyn’s Shadow CabinetLCfEM

Michael Cashman
Lord Cashman, Labour’s LGBT Envoy, occupies potentially one of the most important posts of all. Speaking on international LGBT Rights in the House of Lords on 17th September, Cashman spoke of the importance of showing solidarity with LGBT people in those countries were they face anything from discrimination to death. Even the flying of the Rainbow Flag on British Embassies on appropriate occasions could offer encouragement and hope; solidarity is vitally important. The recent decision of the British Government to stop this should be reversed. There is much that governments could do, and this includes the UK in Northern Ireland, and indeed in the UK where it is high time that conversion therapy was finally banned.


All of which of course has to be translated into action, after (in some cases) careful consideration of existing policy is carried out. In each of the cases listed below, Labour has already advocated to greater or lesser degree. There is cross party support, so there is a chance of success even under a Tory government. But we are going to have to campaign even harder than we have already, both inside and outside the Labour movement. The list is NOT meant to be an exhaustive one, but should keep us busy for a while! I start with those campaigns our group has been most involved with:

1. Make Conversion Therapy not only unavailable on the NHS but illegal, as Cashman said, “we need a new campaign” and as Black said, “sometimes words are sometimes not enough against the bigots”. We need action too. Politicians of all parties have condemned the practice. It is high time they stopped it.
2. LGBT inclusive Relationships and Sex Education mandatory in ALL schools-including faith schools, private schools, academies and all others. No child anywhere, at any school, should be left in ignorance and in danger.
3. Exoneration for all those convicted of gross indecency ‘offences’ before the law was changed in 2003. Victims are still being denied justice. Previous pledges by Ed Miliband to introduce a ‘Turings Law’, and a recent similar one by Andy Burnham in his leadership campaign are welcome. But please, please shadow cabinet members, look at a dictionary and learn the difference between a pardon and exoneration. Better still, look at the blog on this website and sign the petition. And promote it
4. Meaningful action on international LGBT rights
5. Full legal equality to trans people
6. A review of the hate crime law, whilst excellent in intention, is it working as intended?

There are others. Start or help a campaign. The above are, we believe, deliverable. We must ensure that the shadows are shadows of substance, and filled with fighting spirit. They will need it, and we must help to provide it

Colin Livett 21/9/15

IMG_20150718_213509The story of Hull’s Dan Billany [1913-43] has been posted previously in ‘A hero of his time and ours’ It is appropriate ,therefor, that in time for Hull Pride on July 18th, we have received this message of support from Dan’s niece ,Jodi Weston Brake,

“I wish I could be in Hull for the Pride event . Dan would have been so PROUD. How times have changed.”

How indeed

Writing in the late 193os ,when any expression of male homosexuality was illegal, in one of his detective novels ,Dan writes of the reality of gay love then .

“it was a kind of love which,in te world as we know it,could not be made public. Rather commit suicide..Many have.”
And a little later,writing of the very real risks that gay men were at from blackmailers [the anti-gay laws were accurately described as a ‘blackmailers charter’ ]
“Unhappy devil ,Mrs. Valentine [the blackmailer] had found a way to make the very honey of his life into poison to buy her brandy and run her Daimler.”

Turning honey into poison —-that was the reality of the effect of the cruel prejudices and discriminatory laws of numerous gay men of Dan’s and later generations Without their sacrifices we would not have such freedoms as we do today.
And that is why it is so important that those convicted under gross indecency and other anti-homosexual laws should be exonerated–and why we are launching our petition at this years Hull Pride.

Who can doubt that Dan would have been Proud to be marching with us on July 18th? And he would have been utterly amazed to tune in to West Hull FM at 8 on a tuesday evening to hear Danny Norton announce ‘This is ‘Loud and Proud’-for West Hulls’ LGBT Community; being beamed out over his birthplace on Hessle Road. The ‘love which in this world could not be made public’ is now very public indeed!

Yes—-Dan would have been proud of his native city of Hull and its LGBT Community. t

On Hull Pride Day on 18th July a wreath will be laid at Hulls Cenotaph in Hull in honour of all those LGBT servicemen and women who gave their lives defending our freedoms. As Dan’s niece says in a message to Hull Pride, “Their bravery needs to be acknowledged.Caught between the devil and the deep,and so much to fight for-what Hitler would have done to the Gay Community ,given the chance, does not bear thinking about . His track record gives us a terrifying insight
“What a different world we would be living in if it wasn’t for the selfless bravery of all who fought.”
All the braver one might add when they would have been denied the most basic freedom to give expression to the love that they felt for their own sex had they survived and returned home. And which they would have been discharged from the services for until the year 2000. Despite all that they gave their lives for us.
We are PROUD of all of them

And We Are Proud of Our Dan

Within his short life Dan never lived to see a world more understanding of his true nature. Had he done so I believe that he would, in his writings, been as great a champion of Gay Rights as he had been of other oppressed groups. Because of the harsh times that he lived in, however, he ended up fighting for everybody but himself.
Within his short life Dan never lived to see a world more understanding of his true nature. Had he done so I believe that he would, in his writings, been as great a champion of Gay Rights as he had been of other oppressed groups. Because of the harsh times that he lived in, however, he ended up fighting for everybody but himself.

A court decision by the United States Supreme Court on 26th June ,albeit by the narrowest of margins,ruled that same sex marriage should be a legal right in all 50 states. The news was greeted ecstatically by LGBT campaigners as is shownunnamed (3)

This decision was the first ruling by the Supreme Court on marriage since 1967 when it declared it unconstitutional for any of the states to make inter-racial marriage illegal.

In both cases individuals had brought their quest for justice to the court.

In welcoming the decision President Obama praised the vital part that had been played by individuals and small groups in advancing LGBT equality.

He acknowledged the long road to equality and recocgnized “the countless small acts of courage of millions of people across decades who stood up ,who came out, who came out to parents,who endured bullying and taunts and stayed strong and came to believe in themselves and who they are.’
Seldom has the recognition of the contribution made—often at huge-personal sacrifice-by LGBT activists towards achieving greater equality been better stated.

And what is true of the USA is equally true of the UK. We too have our unsung heroes and victims without whom no advance would have been made.

But their task is not yet over. Even if LGBT people had complete legal equality in the USA and elsewhere that has not been translated into actual equality i peoples everyday lives. The parallel with the positions of Afro-Americans who have had legal equality in the US for the last 50 years yet as recent events have shown they sometimes still seem to be as far away from translating legal equality into actual equality as ever is striking if not encouraging. The hatred and fear in peoples hearts lives on.
In the USA there is neither total legal nor real equality for LGBT people. For example the evil quackery of conversion therapy continues to be legal in the vast majority of states. Legalised torture continues. Young people in particular are driven to seek a ‘cure’ for their homosexuality out of desperation at the hostility they face—often from their own families.However,this week also brought another decision in a US Court which may in the longterm be as much a landmark victory in promoting LGBT Rights as the Supreme Court Ruling. This was the finding of the court in New Jersey that Conversion Therapy Organisation J.O.N.A.H. had been guilty of fraud in promising a cure for homosexuality. Again a case had been brought by individuals who had suffered at the hands of JONAH. They were awarded damages of $72,000.Their Attorney,David Dinielli said “The same lies that motivate gay conversion therapy motivate homophobia,that gay people are broken and need to be fixed. The strength of our plaintiffs brought that to light”.Obamas theme again. At the time of writing the judge in the case has not yet made a decision on whether to withdraw JONAH’s licence to operate. Conversion Therapy in the USA is not only driven by religious homophobia but also a desire to make a quick buck. So hitting the quacks in the pocket could be a very effective means of battling conversion therapy.In the UK ,although the campaign led by Hull and East Riding Labour LGBT+ Network succeeded in patients no longer being funded by the NHS for such treatment, the battle has still to be won to achieve an outright ban.

An indication of the extent of continuing LGBT inequality in the USA [and indeed the UK] lies in the statistic that in the USA 40% of homeless youth declare themselves to be LGBT. Many of them have fled their family homes because of rejection,hostility and even abuse. Others are rejected and thrown out. All these things fuel the number seeking [or being forced to] conversion therapy in desperation.Whilst homeless they will be in great danger, of sexual exploitation and other crimes,, engaging in risky sex [often to survive]. of drug use and impaired mental health.
As so often the prejudices of society create more problems and more victims and society fails to solve the problems it has created in the first place.In Britain the problem is barely recognised-let alone dealt with-on an official level.

But let us rejoice with our American sisters and brothers at this great move towards equality. A ‘victory for love’ indeed—–but all those individual sacrifices and acts of courage which made it possible will be needed for a long while yet. And of course in many countries that will place not only their wellbeing but their very lives at risk

Celebrate and Agitate!

Colin Livett 28/6/2015


The Referendum in the Republic of Ireland on legalising Gay Marriage has resulted in a stunning victory for the Yes campaign, by a margin of nearly 2-1 on a turnout of over 60%. Ireland thus became the first country in the world to introduce gay marriage as a result of direct democracy. A majority voted in favour of protecting the equal rights of a minority.
This victory was all the more remarkable given that Ireland was one of the last countries in western Europe to legalise homosexuality, back in 1993; A full quarter of a century after England. This had been the first breaking of the stranglehold of the Irish Catholic Church over the democracy, whereby what the church declared to be a sin the state declared to be a crime. At that point, for the first time ‘Ta na gays ag teacht abhaile’;the gays were coming home without fear of persecution. Now they can come home and look forward to legal equality.
One middle aged gay man was quoted as saying “I love seeing young people happy and relaxed and not scared the way members of my generation were”

What we must remember is that generations of gay men DID live their lives in fear, denied the most fundamental of human rights; to consensually love whom they chose.

And let us not forget that in the UK prior to 2003, generations of gay men lived their lives in fear of Gross Indecency Laws andtthey are still to be exonerated. And let us not forget those LGBT people in the six countries where homosexuality remains a capital offence,or the seventy or so where it remains a criminal offence. Nor the poor folk in places like Russia, where although legal there is rampant discrimination and people still live their lives in secrecy and fear.

But a generation ago, Ireland was the most backward country in Western Europe on LGBT rights (apart perhaps from Northern Ireland!) Now it is a beacon of hope. As Churchill commented on VE Day in 1945, we can allow ourselves a moment of celebration. But the war is not yet won. There remain many inequalities especially as far as trans people are concerned. But we should celebrate and then continue the battle for full legal and social equality—-in the UK as in Ireland