The Bolton Seven

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Candle-light vigil for the Bolton 7 | Undated | Outrage | 14353

The Bolton 7 were gay and bisexual men convicted on 12 January 1998 at Bolton Crown Court of gross indecency under the Sexual Offences Act 1956 and of age of consent offences under the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994.

While gay sex between two men was decriminalised by the Sexual Offences Act 1967, the seven were convicted under section 13 of the 1956 Act because group sex was still illegal. One of the men convicted was also six months under the statutory age of consent for gay sex (18) at the time.

Equivalent heterosexual behaviour was not a crime.

The offences came to light when police seized videos of the men having sex.

During sentencing on 20 February 1998 Gary Abdie, David Godfrey, Mark Love, Jonathan Moore and Craig Turner were given probation and community service orders. The Judge gave Norman Williams a two-year suspended prison sentence and Terry Connell received a nine-month suspended sentence and was ordered to pay £500 towards the cost of the prosecution, which is estimated to have cost £500,000.

Moore, Williams and Connell were also required to sign the Sex Offenders Register for the age of consent offences committed with Turner.

There was a huge campaign to prevent the men being given custodial sentences. The campaign was successful.

Six of the men appealed to the European Court of Human Rights arguing that the prosecutions against them had violated their rights under the European Convention on Human Rights by interfering with ‘the right to respect for a private family life’ enshrined in article 8 of the Convention.

They won and were awarded compensation. As Williams was not part of the litigation, he did not receive compensation.

The law has radically changed since the case. The Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 2000 equalised the age of consent for sex, now 16 for both heterosexuals and gays. The Sexual Offences Act 2003 changed the way sexual offences are dealt with by the police and courts, replacing many of the 1956 provisions. The offences of gross indecency and buggery have been repealed. Sexual activity between more than two men is no longer a crime in the UK.

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Allan Horsfall dies

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Allan Horsfall | Public domain | 14354

Gay Activist is sad to learn of the death of a major figure in British gay history, Allan Horsfall, who has died at the age of 84. With Colin Harvey, he set up the Homosexual Law Reform Committee, one of Britain’s first gay rights groups, in 1964. It became the Campaign for Homosexual Equality. Horsfall was also a Labour party politician.

Peter Tatchell said: “Allan was arguably the grandfather of the modern gay rights movement in Britain. We all walk in Allan’s shadow. He was active in LGBT campaigning until a few months before his death. Allan deserves a Queer State Funeral.”

George Broadhead, a veteran LGBT campaigner and humanist, said: ‘Like another prominent gay Humanist Anthony Grey who died in 2010, Allan made an invaluable contribution to the campaign for LGBT rights. Very few people nowadays have heard of him. But in those days to put your head above the parapet was very brave. He got into a great deal of trouble with the Labour Party for getting involved in gay rights but somebody has got to start these things.”

Ray Gosling said: “Allan’s contribution to gay rights is he invented it. Allan was the founder of it all and a great inspiration to me and a lovely, lovely friend. He had a wonderful life until really his last few days.”

Even after homosexuality was decriminalized in Britain in 1967, Horsfall continued his campaigning work, in 1998 he worked on the case of the Bolton Seven, a group of men who had sex with each other and got prosecuted because, although homosexuality was legal, group sex between men was not; the last major case before British sexual offences laws were completely reviewed and equalized for gay and straight people – with the exception of sex in public toilets which remains criminal, and is mainly targeted at men who have sex with men.

There was a Humanist funeral ceremony at Overdale Crematorium, Bolton, England on 6 September 2012.

Gay Activist sends condolences to family, friends and colleagues.

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The Queen Boat, Cairo

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Rainbows will shine | 14355

In 2001, 52 men who were arrested aboard a floating gay nightclub called the Queen Boat, which was moored on the Nile in Cairo. Of the 52 accused, who became internationally known as the “Cairo 52”, 29 were acquitted; 23 were convicted for “habitual debauchery” under Law 10 of 1961 on the Combat of Prostitution and defaming Islam. All 52 men had pleaded innocent but they were sentenced to up to five years prison with hard labour. The trial was held in a state security court, allowing no appeal.

Dr. Essam Elarian, a spokesman for the Brotherhood, expressed a common opinion. “From my religious view, all the religious people, in Christianity, in Judaism, condemn homosexuality,” he told the BBC. “It is against the whole sense in Egypt. The temper in Egypt is against homosexuality.”

The event drew international intrigue, with media exclusives that revealed the men were subjected to beatings and forensic examinations to “prove their homosexuality.” One Queen Boat eyewitness told the BBC in 2002: “The police told the man to take down his trousers. They wanted to see if he was wearing typical Egyptian underwear – baggy white cotton. If he was not, they said he must be a homosexual. He failed the test.”

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Thom Gunn

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Thom Gunn | The Poetry Foundation | 14356

Thomson William Gunn was born in Gravesend, Kent on 29 August 1929 and died of acute polysubstance abuse, including methamphetamine in San Francisco, USA on 25 April 2004. Both of his parents were journalists, and they divorced when he was 10 years old. During the second world war he was evacuated to the countryside. His life was marked by tragedy when, as a teenager, his mother committed suicide. After relocating from England first to Stanford College, US in 1954 and then in 1960 to Haight Ashbury, San Francisco, Gunn, openly gay, wrote about gay-related topics — particularly in his most famous work, The Man With Night Sweats, in 1992, as well as drug use, sex, and topics related to his bohemian lifestyle. He won numerous major literary awards.

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Thom Gunn | Arizona University | 14357

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Lou Sullivan

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Louis Graydon Sullivan | Trans oral history | 14358

Louis Graydon Sullivan was born on 16 June 1951 and died on 2 March 1991. Lou was born Sheila Jean Sullivan, and was known for his work on behalf of trans men, and for founding Female to Male International. He argued that sexual orientation and gender identity are totally unrelated. He was also a highly regarded writer.

Sullivan grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and moved to San Francisco with his partner. In 1986, after completed trans surgery, he was diagnosed with HIV, and died of AIDS in 1991, aged 39.

Sullivan wrote the first guidebook for female to male persons, and other books, and was a founding member and board member of the GLBT Historical Society in San Francisco. His personal and activist papers are preserved by the society.

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Jeremy Thorpe

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Jeremy Thorpe | Uncredited Photo/Independent | 14359

Jeremy Thorpe, politician, was the flamboyant leader of the UK Liberal Party. He was brought down by allegations of homosexuality, which he denied, and conspiracy. His political career was damaged when an acquaintance, Norman Scott, claimed to have had a love affair with him during the years when homosexual acts were illegal in Britain. He was tried at the Old Bailey for the attempted murder of Norman Scott. Thorpe denied the charges and was acquitted of them all on 22 June 1979, shortly after losing his seat in the general election. The case is a graphic demonstration of how allegations of a person’s sexuality can cost them their job, livelihood and reputation.

Gay groups demonstrated at the Trial, claiming that homosexuality was being portrayed in an unfair light. Mr Thorpe did not appear best pleased.

Mr Thorpe has never made a public statement about his sexuality, and is still alive; he is known to suffer from Parkinsons’ Disease. Thorpe first married interior decorator Caroline Allpass (1938-–1970) in May 1968. Their son Rupert was born in 1969. Caroline Thorpe was killed in a car crash in June 1970. Thorpe then married Marion Stein in 1973. She is the former wife of the 7th Earl of Harewood, a first cousin of Queen Elizabeth II.

Rumours about Thorpe’s sexuality dogged his political career. Norman Scott met Thorpe in 1961 while working as a stable lad. He later claimed that he and Thorpe had had a homosexual relationship between 1961 and 1963, when homosexual acts were still illegal in Britain. The claims led to an inquiry within the Liberal Party in 1971, which exonerated Thorpe but did not quieten Scott.

In October 1975 Andrew Newton collected Norman Scott from where he was living in North Devon, and drove him to Porlock Hill, Exmoor where they stopped and got out of the car. Newton then shot Scott’s dog Rinka, a Great Dane, before turning the gun on Scott. When the case came before Exeter Crown court in March 1976, Scott said that the gun jammed and that Newton then drove off, leaving him alone beside the dead dog. Newton always maintained that his intention was only to frighten Scott, who, he alleged, possessed incriminating photographs of Newton. Newton was convicted for the illegal possession of a firearm and an intent to endanger life.

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During his court appearance, Scott (left) repeated his claims of a relationship with Thorpe, and alleged that Thorpe had threatened to kill him if he spoke about their affair. Scott also sold letters to the press which he claimed to be love letters from Thorpe. One of these included the memorable line “Bunnies can and will go to France”, which supposedly showed Thorpe using his ‘pet-name’ for Scott in connection with a promise to find Scott a well-paid job in France. Thorpe was forced to resign as Liberal Party leader on 9 May 1976.

Thorpe faced trial at Number One Court, the Old Bailey on 8 May 1979, one week after losing his Parliamentary seat. He was charged with attempted murder and conspiracy to murder. One chief prosecution witnesses was Peter Bessell, who claimed to have been present while the murder plot was discussed within the Liberal Party. Bessell agreed to appear as a witness in exchange for immunity from prosecution. His credibility was damaged because he had sold his story to The Sunday Telegraph for a fee that would double from £25,000 to £50,000 if the prosecution was successful.

Thorpe did not testify but his counsel, led by George Carman QC, argued that although he and Scott had been friends, there had been no sexual relationship. Carman claimed that Scott had sought to blackmail Thorpe, and that although Thorpe and his friends had discussed “frightening” Scott into silence, they had never conspired to kill him.

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After 15 hours of deliberation, the jury reached a verdict of Not Guilty. The four defendants were all acquitted.

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Jeremy Thorpe (left) arriving at the Old Bailey in 1979 for his trial | Press Association | 14473

Jeremy Thorpe died on 4 December 2014 after a long battle with Parkinson’s Disease. He was 85.

Jeremy Thorpe was elected leader of the Liberals in 1967. His political career ended when his life was engulfed in scandal and he faced trial on charges of conspiracy and incitement to murder.

He resigned as Liberal Party leader in 1976 after allegations of an affair with a former male model, Norman Scott, at a time when male homosexual acts were illegal. Along with three other men, he was later charged with conspiracy to murder Mr Scott, but all the men walked free from court after a 31-day trial, in 1979.

Former Lib Dem leader Sir Menzies Campbell said: “Jeremy Thorpe’s enforced resignation as leader of the Liberal Party and his subsequent departure from Parliament should not obscure the fact that in his day he was an outstanding parliamentarian with a coruscating wit, and a brilliant campaigner on the stump whose interest and warmth made him a firm favourite with the public.”

Lord Steel of Aikwood, who succeeded Mr Thorpe as party leader David Steel, said he had a “genuine sympathy for the underprivileged”, both in his constituency and in Africa, where he campaigned against apartheid.

John Jeremy Thorpe was born in Surrey on 29 April 1929 into a Conservative family – both his father and grandfather were Tory MPs. One of his ancestors was Mr Speaker Thorpe of Edward II’s Parliament, who was beheaded by a mob in 1461. He received some of his education in America. He read law at Trinity College, Oxford where he became chairman of the Liberal Club and then the Oxford Union. On entering politics he was a pioneering campaigner for human rights, attacking South Africa’s policy of apartheid and the post-colonial excesses in South East Asia.

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The Advocate

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The Advocate | Media Bistro | 14362

The Advocate is an American monthly magazine which was established in 1967, and is the oldest continuing gay publication in the United States. The Advocate was first published as a local newsletter by the activist group PRIDE in Los Angeles. The newsletter was inspired by a police raid on Los Angeles gay bar the Black Cat Tavern. Richard Mitch (“Dick Michaels”) and Bill Rau (“Bill Rand”), Aristide Laurent and Sam Winston transformed the newsletter into a newspaper titled The Los Angeles Advocate. The first issue bore a cover date of September 1967.

The recession is affecting the revenues of all gay publications and The Advocate also appears to have been affected.

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