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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 39, Number 16, July 12, 1976.

Gays Persecuted

page 7

Gays Persecuted

Two recent incidents, the attack on a member of Gay Liberation at a Women's Choice Club wine-and-cheese and the arrest in Christchurch of a Labour Member of Parliament for "indecent assault", only serve to highlight the continuing oppression of homosexuals in our society and the savage inequality in New Zealand law. It is our view that society at large is the real criminal in such cases, not the specific individuals involved.

In what other case would the victim of a crime of violence be forced to become the defendant, while those who committed the violence are invited to bring charges? (Significantly, the only comparable case is rape) Gay people are subject to blackmail, and to mugging, and in each case, although the victim of the crime, it is they who stand to suffer at the hands of the law.

In the eyes of many, "queer-bashing" is not just condoned, it is even seen as a protective service. The M.P. was lucky, he's still alive; the victim of the Hagley Park murder in 1962 was not so [unclear: lucky,] The gay person is seen as inviting violence by the mere fact of being gay, just as for the Ku Klux Klan and their ilk the black invites violence merely through being black. The gay who last month was waylaid by several students in the Union building, was beaten about the head for the simple reason that he openly identified himself as gay.

These students, who have been threatened with expulsion, are putting up as their excuse (of course) that their victim made "indecent advances". This happens to be a lie; their victim had more discrimination than that. But suppose for a minute their victim was a woman. For a start, if she had made "indecent advances", would they have beaten her up? And if they had, could they have offered this as an excuse?

But gay women are in no way immune from this form of oppression. For instance, at a recent National Lesbian Conference in Bristol a social was invaded by a group of men who severely beat up several of the women. In a statement following this, the women said: "On this occasion as on numerous others lesbians have been physically attacked by men who simply cannot face up to the reality that a group of women do not in any way depend on them for their physical emotional, and sexual needs." And even if she escapes actual violence, any gay woman will tell you she is continually pestered by "indecent advances" from straight men.

Can we be surprised that such violence is so often tacitly condoned, when the law itself condones it? The role of the Christchurch police in the M.P.'s case is open to serious question. Instead of acting on the complain laid by the M.P., they actually chose to bring charges, making him defendant rather than victim. Here is a case of police prejudice against homosexuals. In the eyes of the police it was worse to attempt to express a sexual emotion for another human being than to brutalise another human being to the point of necessitation prolonged hospitalisation.

Gay Liberation protests against the attitude of the press in this case. The press opposed the suppression of the M.P.'s name; but its revelation only allowed him to be discredited out of blatant prejudice and morbid sensationalism. We are for changes in society so that such publication would cease to have such a drastic effect on the individual concerned. We regret that secrecy in such matters is only contributory to an atmosphere of ignorance and fear. Ironically, the abysmal record of the Labour Party itself on the question of support for gay rights is a further contributory cause.

The career of the M.P. concerned is now irreparably damaged, but this is totally regardless of his "guilt" or "innocence" of the "crime". Mr Thorpe has suffered a similar fate in Britain, apparently only as a result of a frame-up by South African interests opposed to his anti-apartheid position Can we be sure there are no similarly corrupt political interests in this case?

Gay Liberation is for a society in which people live lives along the natural continuum of sexuality from exclusively homosexual to exclusively heterosexual, free from guilt, and free from fear of losing job and status. Were this the case, it is unlikely that certain homosexuals would feel so ashamed of their own sexuality they are driven to violence in the attempt to deny it. We demand the repeal of all anti-homosexual laws and the banning of all discrimination against gays, which would go a long way towards creating an atmosphere in which situations such as those mentioned here could no longer occur. A situation in which the victim of a crime of violence becomes the accused is an obvious travesty of justice.

(Gay Liberation has general meetings in the Union Building every other Thursday at 7 30pm - next meeting is July 22nd General meetings hear and discuss reports from activity groups made up of any interested members. At present, a political activities gorup handles press releases, pressurising activities such as pickets of party conferences, and the organising of participation in, for instance, the Abortion Rally; a social welfare group arranges talks to schools, social workers, and psychiatric nurses and is sending out questionnaires to G.P.'s; a literature group is reviewing the availability of gay books in libraries and plans to establish its own bibliography and library of such books. Women's and men's consciousness-raising groups are operating, and occasional social functions are held. Plans are under way for public activities for a Gay Pride Week later this month. General meetings also hear educationsl discussions on relevant topics, for instance, recently, transsexualism, and lesbian separatism. All gay women and men students are not just welcome, but are urged to participate.)

Barry Nonweiler.

English Department (Ext.455) (Home phone 753-198)