Auth: Tom Wakefield

Pub: GMP

The story is about two men who meet on National Service. They are both passive characters – no fight, no bite, they failing, rather than create, a relationship. There is no real change in them or their relationship though it goes from the 1950’s until the mid-seventies.

About upstart Publishing?

Mission Statement:upstart publishing” is a Gay community publication which provides support across all ages, all social levels, all genders, all ethnic communitieSeand all faiths.


In 1982, Se n McGouran, and David (Terry) McFarlane took over as the editors of NIGRA (the Northern Ireland Gay rights Association)’s publication Gay Star, following in the foot steps of previous editor Peter Brooke and Brian Gilmore(who had produced a photocopied update’ for Belfast GLF, and edited NIGRA NewSeand Northern Gay). It was felt that the community had already outgrown the need for a news bulletin. They and many other creative Gay women and men in out (then) catchment area needed an outlet for their talents. These included memoirs, articles about every possible aspect of Gay life from leather’ to nudity to religion (and irreligion). There was much poetry, and a solid input over years of cartoonSeand illustrations, articles to free standing and distinguished graphic material.



A fair number of contributors rode their favoured hobbyhorses in both Gay Star and upstart, from the general superiority of human culture anywhere on mainland Europe to those of the Islands of the North Atlantic (in particular Ulster’) to the total lack of anything like a Gay culture’. There was also nudism and leather’ (and drag’), Thomas Mann’s sexuality, (and that of Roger Casement), the singer-songwriter Diamanda Gallas (and the English poet John Gallas) and Benjamin Britten.



Our catchment area’ broadened out from the Six Counties of Northern Ireland to include contributors from all of Ireland, all of the British Isles, and as far afield as Denmark and all over the



The two journals covered all the trialSeand tribulations of the Gay community (everywhere, in so far as it was possible) and the many and various campaigns of NIGRA. These ranged from the administering Jeff Dudgeon’s case at the European Court of Human Rights which led to Thatcher’s government having to extend the relevant elements of the 1967 Sexual Offences Act to the region. This was described by NIGRA at the time as inherently homophobic but it led to a position where all Gay people in the UK State were equally oppressed. (We could have campaigned together to demand equal citizenship, NIGRA organised a conference in 1984, to attempt to get an all-UK organisation off the ground but it failed in that respect). The Dudgeon Case’ had been used frequently in the past, in the Supreme Courts of Columbia and Romania, and in national assemblies as far apart as Azerbaijan and



Other campaigns included many clashes with the police, they were resolved, – we thought – by the RUC’s response to a number of phenomena. One was NIGRA’s monitoring of the law courtSeand visits to RUC barracks which had been involved in purges’ of men engaged in sex in the open or in public conveniences. Most of the Superintendent’s in charge of the stations were amenable to plain talk. We told them that the response was often hugely out of proportion to the crimes committed. That the men arrested could take their own lives (and this has become more prevalent, by the objects of moral cleansing’ by paramilitaries). And that families break up and divorce can ensue from what is usually very low level law breaking.



They in every single case told us that any such arrests were due to complaints from the public. This destroyed a long-cherished Gay urban myth’ which the police go out and arrest people in cottages’ and cruising areas, to boost their arrest targets.

Germane to the above were two campaigns, one on the murder, in July 1979, of Anthony McCleave, which the police claimed was not a gay-bashing killing. That was probably to spare’ the family the shame’ of owning up to Tony being queer. The family, which had lost a brother in the early 1970s, in a sectarian assassination, were determined that the case remain open’, even though there was little hope that the killer, or killers would ever be caught.



The other campaign had to do with the use of the Portsmouth Defence’ (or homosexual panic defense’) whereby men can plead that they killed other men because they allegedly made sexual advances to them. These killings were (and are) usually appallingly violent and, despite the sheer horror of being the objects of sexual advances by another male theft plays a part in many such killings. NIGRA fought mightily to get this matter onto the agenda of the Gay movement and it was taken up by many in the legal profession. The Portsmouth Defence’ is for all practical purposes a dead letter not just in the

UK but in all common law’ countries. (This is also due to the great change in the legal perception of Gay women and men women were victims of this same legal perversion.)



The RUC (Royal Ulster Constabulary now the Police Service of Northern Ireland-PSNI) attended the major conference in

Manchesterin 1995, ‘Policing Diversity, An agenda for change’. In 1997 NIGRA commenced a series of seminars for students at the police college in Carnerville. For some reason the RUC unilaterally changed this arrangement, in 1999. The PSNI made a series of disastrous decisions about policing male sexual activity in various venues all over the region in 2006. This led, like all the other purges in the past, to suicides, family break-ups, men losing their jobs and social difficulties for their spouseSeand children. A sinister aspect of this particular crack down’ was the involvement of the UVF in the harassment of the men accused of very low level crimes. The behaviour of the Belfast Telegraph, the region’s largest selling journal was as bad, if not worse, than it has been for the past twenty years. The editor appeared to be condoning the vigilantism of a quasi-criminal paramilitary organisation, which has not surrendered up one bullet, twelve years after the original ceasefires’.



The journalistic queer-bashing of the Telegraph (aka Bellylaugh) and its stable mate Sunday Life has been the object of vigorous campaigning by NIGRA. This included pasting up a Wanted’ poster about a particular journalist in 1995. An article about this matter was published in Fortnight, and the journalist in question, in an interview in the Irish News, said that the person he was persecuting would have been treated better if he had played ball’. The Belfast Telegraph group had accused NIGRA of attacking press freedom, with a handful of yellow A3 posters! Yet here was the perpetrator of a publicity stunt that could well have ended in at least one suicide glorying in his power over other’s lives. The other papers are editorially liberal in regard to Gay women and men (but the Irish News still refuses to publish Cara-Friend’s advertisements), the New Letter has taken a liberal line since the early 1970s. The Sunday World and the now defunct Sunday News tried to outdo each other in tabloid’ silliness, but essentially did little harm. But NIGRA took the decision not to facilitate them for a number of years in the 1980s.



The ban’ was lifted when the Gay Pride festival got off the ground in 1991. The LGBT Pride is going from strength to strength (and has been a free-standing organisation since 2000). The police presented themselves for questioning in 1998, and there were a number of debates on ethics involving people as diverse as Brian McClinton of the Ulster Humanist Association, Michael Harnack an American queer Catholic’, and Bishop Pat Buckley. In 1999 UTV (

Ulster television) made a half hour programme on LGBT Pride. 1999 was also the year a Pride Reception was held in Belfast‘s City Hall. This video (donated by the makers*) was shown at the InterPride (the international organisation for LGBT Prides) held in Glasgow that year. Delegates from Mexico were particularly impressed by the fact that a bishop graced our Pride, and by the City Hall Reception. (Ours is a genuinely supranational movement this is not the first time a tiny region like NornIrl’ has affected the general movement in other parts of the world. A showing of a half hour video has almost certainly spurred those delegates on to more ambitious things.)





This publication was started in 1984 for a number of reasons GS was a quarterly and a regular news sheet was necessary for a number of reasons. NIGRA held its InterInsular Conference to attempt to get an all-UK Gay law reform movement off the ground, and tell our friendSeand allies in the Republic {of Ireland} about the proposed purge of workers by the Eastern Health and Social Services Board (one of the biggest employers in the region) which might have become relevant to them (fortunately it has not but many activists in the Republic realised in listening to Lawrence Pimley of NIPSA (the NI Public Service Alliance), who addressed the Conference, that they had solid allies in the trade union movement. This iSeanother example of cross-fertilisation within our movement the

UK‘ aspect to the event was not a success.



There was also a very widespread purge by the police all over the region we printed a guide to what not to do while in police custody. This was re-printed three times over the next twenty yearSeand produced as a bust card’ in A1 fold over format. As demonstrated in 2006, even the most widespread and regular activity is not always successful. 1984 was also the year the NI AIDS Helpline was set up after a conference in the Carpenter Club. It used the Cara-Friend men’s line for most of the year, until the Helpline got its own premises.



The publication had a number of titles, Belfast Gay News, update (which developed into a printed sheet with a rather elegant masthead designed by Gary Ho. upstart was a serendipitous slip of the tongue by a reader it seemed very apt at a time when the people producing it were out of office’ and could write what they liked. This is what we hope to do with this e-zine’



(part II of this article to follow soon, covering areas about our sponsers, links to other publications etc.)


or Sixteen All Round

TWO CABINET MINISTERS have promised two different correspondents in Northern Ireland that they will support the extension of any change in the (homosexual) age of consent to this region. They were Chris Smith, Secretary for State for Culture, the Media and Sport, (whose disinterested support we are glad to acknowledge), and Marjorie (‘Mo’) Molam, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. Her promise was that we would get an age of consent o f17. Dr. Molam repeated this offer to the Executive of the Northern Ireland Gay Rights Association, whey they met her on December 18, 1997.

This is in line with the reply to a Parliamentary Question put by Kate Hoey MP (Labour, Vaux-hall), to Adam Ingram MP, a Minister of State at the NIO [Northern Ireland Office]. This written response (dated Thursday, July 24, 1997) was to the effect that the different age of consent was due to the recommendations of the Lynn Committee. It was passed into law in the Children and Young Persons Act of the Northern Ireland [Stormont] parliament in 1950: it is dated February 14, 1950.

This is ‘ on the face of it ‘ pretty conclusive, though it does indicate that this oddity (the differ-ential age of consent) is not some ancient enactment of he vassal Irish parliament. 1950 is quite a long time ago, but it is not ‘time immemorial’ (a legal term meaning before the reign of Richard II).




The Lynn Committee stated work on December 10, 1935, and produced its Report in 1938 (no specific date is given in the text). The title of the Report is The Protection And Welfare Of The Young And The Treatment Of Young Offenders, it is long, thorough, and well (even elegantly) written.

In Scope Of The Inquiry, section 1, the fourth (unnumbered) paragraph reads: “We have not attempted to define exactly in terms of age the expression “young” and “young offender”; but we have in general confined our inquiry to persons under 21, though we go beyond that limit in dealing with the treatment of Borstal inmateSeand young prisoners.”

In Recent Changes in the Law in England and Wales, Section 3, the second paragraph reads: “The differences between the existing law in England and WaleSeand in Northern Ireland are explained in detail in the succeeding sections of this Report. It is sufficient to note here that among more important changes brought about by the Children and Young Persons Act, 1933, were the raising of the maximum age on the definition of “young person” from 16 to 17 years ””.

(An Act containing the same provisions was enacted for Scotland in 1934 ‘ NIGRA).

The Northern Ireland Children and Young Persons Act, 1950, (the languid pace of law-making is very striking), in its first section reads:


“It shall be no defence to a charge or indictment for an indecent assault on a child or young person under the age of sixteen to prove that he or she consented to the act of indecency” (Our emphasis ‘ NIGRA)


This is practically the first item one reads in the [Children and Young Persons] Act referred to by Mr. Ingram, and it is as near to being an age of consent as it is possible to get. (“Age of consent” is not a technical legal term; it is “journalese”).


The Act, like the Lynn Report itself, is very clearly written and thoroughgoing.


The age was changed by adding a Schedule to the Criminal Law Amendment Act [13 & 14 Geo. 5] (Northern Ireland), 1923.


It is obvious from the above, that for nearly seventeen years, the effective age of consent was lower in Northern Ireland than it was in the rest of the UK.


To ask for the same age of consent as the rest of the UK, it to ask for this region to return to the approach to the law and to law-making, which informed the deliberations of the Lynn Committee (an eminently respectable group of worthy citizens).




There is a further argument against the proposition put forward by the NIO. It is a piece of legislation enacted at Westminster by, (in effect), the Northern Ireland Office itself: The Homosexual Offences (Northern Ireland) Order 1982. This was brought in as a result of NIGRA’s successful fight against the UK government at the European Court of Human Rights. (This was the ‘Dudgeon Case’, which revolved around Mr. Dudgeon’s right to privacy).

It was “made” on “27th October 1982” (it iSean Order In Council, usually wartime emergency legislation, but the normal method of making laws for this region since 1972 ‘ it was signed by Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother, and Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon).


A Schedule (to the Offences Against the Person Act (c. 100)), reads:


1. in section 61 for the words “shall be liable” onwards substitute – “shall be liable” –


(a) where the offence was committed with a boy who at the time of the commission of the offence was under the age of 16 years ””


The import of the above is that a ‘boy’ of 16 was deemed, in Northern Ireland, (but not in Britain (England and Wales) or in Scotland), to be capable of committing a crime: ‘ what price 17?



Published by

NIGRA (the Northern Ireland Gay Rights Association)

PO Box 44,

Belfast B1 1SH

Fon:- Belfast 90 665257 / 90 664111























This hand-out was produced in 1999

Sexual Offences (Northern Ireland) Order 2008

The House of Lords has today voted by 146 to 66 to approve the draft Sexual Offences (Northern Ireland) Order 2008, which is the Northern Ireland equivalent of the Sexual Offences Act 2003.
When it comes into force, the Order will change the age of consent in Northern Ireland from 17 to 16.

Harford Montgomery Hyde, the Ulster Unionist MP

Harford Montgomery Hyde, the Ulster Unionist MP (and author of The Other Love) who led the 1950s Westminster campaign for homosexual law reform – his struggle for political survival”

Paper given at the Wolfenden50 conference (28-30 June 2007) at South
Range Lecture Theatre, Strand Campus (enter off Strandthrough Somerset
House), King’s College London, on Saturday 30 June at 11am followed by a
pre-pride reception

[The Editor] – This paper will be shown in three parts over three weeks as it is very comprehensive. Should anyone require a a full copy of the paper please contact:

Mr Jeff Dudgeon

Tel (028) 90664111 or 079 2125 1874

56 Mount Prospect Park

Wales gears up for Rainbow Awards

Cardiff Wales Mardi Gras is inviting the gay community and its friends to its first ever Rainbow Awards Dinner and Dance to celebrate the people and businesses who have contributed to making Mardi GraSeand its campaign to Combat Homophobia a success.