Gay UK News & Reports 2004-05

1 New initiative to tackle London homophobia 1/04

2 The court of Queen Anne’s England was awash with gay men 1/04

3 Transsexuals marriage bill clears Lords 2/04

4 London to get gay museum? 5/04

5 Gay couples to get joint rights 3/04

6 ‘Gay Relationship Recognition long over-due’ 3/04

7 Homophobia hampers HIV fight in UK’s African communities 4/04

8 Gay rights plan suffers in Lords 6/04

9 Pride and prejudice in the gay 1920s 7/04

10 RAF comes out at Gay Pride 8/04

11 Seventy couples take pride in mass gay wedding in Manchester 8/04

12 House of Lords approves civil partnerships 11/04

12a UK civil-partnership bill passes 11/04

13 Fight against gay bullying reaches Wales3/05

14 Property prices driving gay couples to the coast 3/05

15 Heroes and Heroines for Brighton Pride 4/05

16 Gay Iranian Kills Himself After UK Asylum Appeal Denied 4/05

17 London Gay flag ban: reversal could take months 6/05

18 Canterbury’s first Gay Pride heralded 6/05

19 Gay people still facing discrimination at work 6/05

20 Being gay is in the genes, say researchers 6/05

21 Police award Peter Tatchell 7/05

22 Palestinian asylum seeker given a new chance to stay in Britain 7/05

23 Baby Girl for Lesbian Couple 8/05

24 First lesbian opera premieres 9/05

25 Gay couples celebrate immigration changes 10/05

26 Gay Brits getting ready for civil unions 11/05

27 Jamaica asylum success could see more gay protection 12/05

28 Gay couples prepare to get hitched in Britain

29 Man dies hours after his gay wedding 12/05

30 Gay marriage landmark12/05

31 Blair: Civil partnerships a “landmark moment” 12/05

32 Zimbabwean ‘lesbian’ ends 33-day UK hunger strike 12/05

33 Man arrested over murder of Tennyson’s gay great-grandson 12/05

34 ‘Gay marriage’ attracts almost 700 12/05 UK

12 January 2004

New initiative to tackle London homophobia

A new scheme helping to improve a London borough’s homophobic hate crime statistics, as well as improve the police force’s image among the LGB community, has been announced. The non-police reporting initiative will help create a "third party space" for victims of hate crimes in Lambeth to come forward and report them. The reports will then be passed on to the Lambeth Police Community Safety Unit, which specialises in dealing with hate crimes. It is thought that the third party reporting scheme will encourage victims of verbal and physical crimes to come forward, especially those nervous of the reaction they may get from a police officer, and is a part of the force’s attempts to modernise how it deals with homophobia and how it is perceived by the LGB community.

Additionally, Lambeth Police have also paired with UK Coalition (UKC), a group that works with HIV positive people throughout the country, as it works to tackle hate crimes based on ignorance surrounding HIV and AIDS. "As an organisation I feel that we have now earned more confidence from our LGBT communities, but we are still not where we need to be," Lambeth LGBT Liaison Officer PC Andy Hewlett says. "As an HIV positive man I also have a personal understanding of the irrational fear and hatred which confront HIV positive men and women, which often surfaces with a criminal offence.

"We are very lucky to have the involvement of our partner organisations who are taking on the role of non-police reporters. Without their help there would be no initiative,’ he added. These partners include Lambeth Council, Lambeth LGBT Forum, Streatham Town Office, NRG and Victim Support Lambeth, as well as the UKC. Despite its image of a LGB safe haven, London still suffers from crimes based on sexuality, Hewlett says. Last year’s Sigma Survey revealed that 25% of gay men had been discriminated against by a member of the public, while 31% said they had suffered verbal abuse. Nearly 6% had suffered physical attacks.

The Weekend Australian Magazine, Sydney NSW 2001 Australia

17th January, 2004

The court of Queen Anne’s England was awash with gay men, drag queens and lesbians: TV Documentary

Queen Anne, queen of England from 1702-1714 was a lesbian. Well, according to the entertaining documentary ‘Queer as 18th Century Folk’, at least. No wonder, really, the poor woman fell pregnant 17 times and not one child survived her. She fell in love, it seems, first with the wife of her famous general the duke of Marlborough and then, of course, with a chambermaid. The story of her sexual preferences, if not quite proven proclivities, is one of a number of stories and character studies that make up this fine program from Britain’s Channel 4 (no surprise there – it produced the landmark series ‘Queer as Folk’, about the lives of a group of gay men and women in Manchester).

Its premise is that 18th-century England was almost as awash with gay men, drag queens and lesbians as Sydney during the Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras in March. Quite a thought. During the course of the show you will meet a fantastic cast of characters, from a fag-hag gay bar proprietor, the fabulously named Mother Clap, to an early version of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ panellist Carlotta – the princess Seraphina.

Best of all is the arch-conservative bull-dyke landowner Anne Lister, whose story comes at the end. Recreating scenes in documentaries has all too often proven the death knell to otherwise fascinating subject matter. But this is so well cast and acted, and so much dosh appears to have been spent on the costumes and make-up of the times in which ‘Dangerous Liaisons’ was being written across the English Channel, that it is almost a shame they didn’t rework the whole thing as a drama.

While the program shows how much relative freedom was being had by the Pommie homosexual before queen Victoria put her (well-covered) foot down, it shows the downside, too. Prejudice follows difference as surely as night follows evening drinks, and a few disturbing and sad moments provide a nice balance to much of the frivolity on display. If there are quibbles, they are about the slightly triumphant tone of discovering that (ooh, aah) people born after the fall of the Roman Empire and before the invention of film like to bonk members of the same sex. Hello?

But it is narrated with gusto and it’s all terribly entertaining. It moves along at a clip that so many other "worthier" documentaries don’t seem to manage. And it doesn’t take itself too seriously. So check any prejudices at the door, have your eyes opened a little and enjoy a fun and informative documentary. You might just enjoy it. . Michael Sainsbury

Ananova (UK)

10 February 2004

Transsexuals marriage bill clears Lords

Legislation offering legal recognition to an estimated 5,000 transsexuals, with secret changes made to birth certificates, has cleared the Lords and now goes to the Commons. It is expected to come into force next year. The Gender Recognition Bill, which peers passed by 155 votes to 57, a majority of 98, would allow transsexuals to marry in their "acquired" gender. But churches would have the right to refuse to conduct such a marriage. A bid by Tory Baroness O’Cathain to extend churches’ right to discriminate against transsexuals in their other "religious activities or ceremonies" was narrowly rejected, by 149 to 144, a Government majority of five. Ministers have already amended the Bill to allow sports governing bodies to make special rules for transsexual competitors.

The proposed gender recognition, which would be authorised by a panel of legal and medical experts, would not require that applicants had undergone a sex change operation. Registrars and their staff, and other professionals involved, would be under a legal obligation not to divulge the fact that a person had changed gender. An attempt by Tory ex-journalist Lord Marlesford to delete this "prohibition on disclosure" clause was rejected by 145 to 108, a Government majority of 37. A separate Bill, allowing civil registration of gay marriages, is expected to be introduced in the Lords next month. UK

25 May 2004

London to get gay museum?

by Ben Townley, UK
London could be on the brink of seeing its first museum dedicated to lesbian and gay people, after all of the main Mayoral candidates backed the idea. The capital city could receive the museum soon after this year’s mayoral elections, which take place on the 10th June, after the Green, Conservative and Labour candidates pledged their support for the idea.

The comments came during a special hustings held over the weekend for the city’s lesbian and gay community. In attendance were the current Mayor Ken Livingstone (now representing Labour) and those looking to succeed him: Steve Norris (Conservative), Darren Johnson (Green) and representatives for the Liberal Democrats, Respect Coalition and the Christian People’s Alliance. It is not the first time the museum idea has been suggested.

Johnson, the only gay candidate in the race, originally came up with the idea in his party’s "gay manifesto". Other candidates were happy to acknowledge that the idea was originally Green. "I don’t have any problem taking other people’s ideas if they are good ones," told listeners when backing the idea. It is through the museum would be dedicated to lesbian and gay people’s impact on the city through the ages. At present, it is seen as one of the gay capitals of the world, with an estimated gay electorate of 500,000. Stonewall, who co-hosted the event, were also keen to throw their weight behind the scheme.

"We’re delighted that this commitment has been given and is strongly supported by all the main parties," chief executive Ben Summerskill said today. "Recognition of the contribution made by gay people to history is long overdue. Too often their role is hidden or ignored." The public event was intended to help facilitate the candidate’s engagement with the capital city’s lesbian and gay community. Additionally, organisers hope it will drive more people to the polls on June 10th, where they can also vote in local elections and European elections. Across the country, promotional campaigns have begun to increase voter turnout. On Wednesday this week, a meeting will be held by Unison under the banner of "Unite Against Fascism", in a bid to encourage LGBT people to make a stand against the BNP in the elections.

BBC News

30 March 2004

Gay couples to get joint rights

Gay and lesbian couples in England and Wales are to be given similar legal rights as husbands and wives under a new Civil Partnership Bill. The measure, being unveiled on Wednesday, will give legal recognition to gay couples for the first time. The plans, announced in last year’s Queen’s Speech, follow a long campaign for equality for same sex partners. Tory leader Michael Howard has indicated that he will give his MPs a free vote on the issue.

The bill is expected to give same-sex couples pension and property entitlements if they register their commitment in a civil ceremony. It is also likely to deal with the payment of income related benefits, parental responsibility for children and exemption from testifying against each other in court. But the plans have already faced criticism for failing to offer similar rights to unmarried heterosexual couples. Earlier this week, the Tories held a "gay summit", marking a shift for a party which only recently dropped support for a law banning councils from promoting homosexuality.

Mr Howard indicated that he would give MPs a free vote on the issue, but several are expected to vote against such partnerships when the Bill is debated in the Commons. Schemes which recognise committed homosexual relationships have already been set up in nine EU countries. And in June last year, Canada’s largest province Ontario ruled that gay and lesbian couples have the right to marry there. Under the plans, gay couples will not be entitled to a "marriage" ceremony, but will be able to sign an official document at a register office in front of the registrar and two witnesses.

The proposals went out for consultation last year. The consultation paper did not use the term "gay marriage", but the Civil Partnership Registration Scheme seemed to have been designed to be as close to a marriage contract as possible. Gay couples would not have to live together for a certain length of time to be eligible for the rights and if the partnership breaks up, there would be a "formal, court-based process" for dissolving it.

Under the plans set out in the consultation paper, gay couples in the UK will have:

• Visiting rights in hospitals
• An ability to gain parental responsibility for each other’s children
• Recognition for immigration purposes
• Joint state pension benefits
• Obligation to support each other financially
• Ability to claim compensation for fatal accidents or criminal injuries
• Recognition under inheritance and intestacy rules
• The right to register their partner’s death and continue tenancy of a property
• Exemption from inheritance tax on a partner’s home
• Exemption from testifying against each other in court

BBC News

30 March, 2004

‘Gay Relationship Recognition long over-due’

by Cindi John
BBC News Online community affairs reporter Roy Peterson is looking forward to having his relationship legally recognised. "Personally I think it is long overdue. Because we’re human beings like everyone and I don’t really feel the sexuality side of things should come into play. "It’s time we had the same legal rights as anyone else in a committed relationship and the same protection," he says. The gay rights worker says the introduction of the Civil Partnership Bill by the UK government on Wednesday puts Britain streets ahead of his native America. There, he says, the lack of legal recognition of gay partnerships led to him losing his home after the death of his partner.

While his long-term partner was alive Mr Peterson says he believed their relationship was accepted by both families so he was shocked at the behaviour of his partner’s relatives after his death. "I came home one day and the locks had been changed on the doors. I was still living in the house, all of my stuff was in the house. "And it just came to the point when things were being separated into ‘Who bought this? Who bought that?’ and as far as I was concerned we had bought this or that," he says. Under the new legislation being proposed for the UK, Mr Peterson could be spared such an experience again if he and his partner had signed a civil partnership document at a register office.

Their claim on joint property could then be recognised and they would also be able to benefit from each other’s pension rights. Under US law Mr Peterson had no such rights and is pleased UK government is so progressive. His partner, Paul Martin, believes that is possibly due to the European influence. "Other countries like Denmark and the Netherlands are far more dynamic and liberal and they’ve been setting the pace and we’re being pulled along in the wake.

"The US isn’t signed up to anything like that, they are their own lord and master plus we’re a much more secular society whereas the US has got the religious right to contend with," Mr Martin says. Roy Peterson feels as well as giving new rights to gay couples the new legislation will also help integrate them more into society.

"I think this bill will really help because gay people will feel more a part of society and will be out there more and not be so marginalised," he says. The couple, who have been together 11 years, say they are planning to have a civil partnership ceremony once they become legally binding. Mr Martin, a student, says even though gay couples have been able to register their partnership in London for three years he and his partner felt the initiative and a similar controversial one in the US were "experimental".

"This bill going through will hopefully solidify a much more important piece of legislation and we’re not going to be going in for something which is later going to be annulled or ridiculed. "I don’t want to be a test case, I really want it to be solid legislation which will be recognised in law and then I can proceed." UK,

26 April 2004

Homophobia hampers HIV fight in UK’s African communities

by Ben Townley, UK
Homophobia within the UK’s African communities is blocking any progress on HIV and AIDS
, according to the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) chief Trevor Phillips, who adds that "stigma and denial" is hampering further successes within such communities.
In a speech to be delivered at today’s Civil Service Race Equality Network, Phillips will also call for African people across the country to learn from how the gay community dealt with HIV education, prevention and treatment.

The comments follow increasing transmission figures across the UK’s African population, which has now become the centre of heterosexual infections. "In Britain, expertise in fighting HIV rests in the gay community, but African men in particular are wary of being associated with anything gay," he will say, adding that HIV positive African people are arriving at doctors at too late a stage to be considered for drug treatment.

He will also pledge to fight homophobia in a bid to save lives from the virus. "We will have less than zero tolerance of anyone who allows homophobia to stand in the way of our protecting vulnerable African communities," his speech will say.
Phillips says this will be done through an "all out education" process, that will be drawn up in cooperation with the government.
His comments were cautiously supported by AIDS advocacy groups, who warned that although an important issue, it is wrong to lay the blame only at the African community.

"Trevor Phillips has raised an important issue, but it is important to avoid further marginalising African communities – homophobia is just as rife in other sections of society, if not more so," Walter Gillgower, Head of African Promotion at Terrence Higgins Trust told UK. "We must work together to encourage African and other BME communities to stop this culture of denial around homosexuality, as it is damaging and prevents effective health promotion campaigns from getting through to people at risk of HIV infection." He added that recent campaigns from THT, including urging black Africans and African Caribbean people to think about and accept homosexuality as well as encouraging HIV tests, had seen success in targeting HIV in the community.

BBC News,

24 June 2004

Gay rights plan suffers in Lords

Ministers’ plans to give gay couples similar rights to married couples have suffered a defeat in the Lords.
The Civil Partnerships Bill gives legal rights to same-sex couples who register their partnership at a civil ceremony. Rights include exemption on inheritance tax, plus social security and pension benefits, as well as property rights. A Tory amendment saying the rights should be extended to relationships such as long term carers was backed by 148 to 130 in the House of Lords. Labour peer Lord Alli said: "This amendment is ill-conceived and does nothing other than undermine the purpose of the Bill. "This is not a Bill to do ill. This is about same sex couples whose relationships are clearly different from siblings. These are complex issues."

Queen’s Speech
The government wanted to give gay couples the right to register their relationship at a civil ceremony. The plans, announced in last year’s Queen’s Speech, follow a long campaign for equality for same sex partners. The term "gay marriage" is not used in the Bill, but the Civil Partnership Registration Scheme seems to have been designed to be as close to a marriage contract as possible. That has angered some Christian groups, who argue marriage is being undermined, but some gay rights groups say they do not go far enough. There are also complaints that same-sex couples are now getting rights not available to unmarried heterosexual couples.

Tory Baroness O’Cathain, who opposes the Bill, said it discriminates against families and carers who look after their elderly parents and face hefty tax bills when the relative dies. She said: "We are told by the government this is not a gay marriage Bill but a Bill about removing injustice. "Anyone can see that the legal rights are the same as for married couples." She added: "This Bill sends out a message that family relationships don’t matter as much as same sex relationships – that same sex couples are given a higher status than family relationships.

"This is unfair and certain to lead to blatant injustice for family members who have shown commitment and sacrifice." ‘Stalking horse’ Former Ulster Unionist MP Lord Maginnis said the Bill was "dealing with couples who want to indulge in a relationship which most likely involves unnatural sexual practices". But Lib Dem Lord Goodhart said the amendment was a "stalking horse" for opponents to recognising gay partnerships. For the government, Home Office Minister Baroness Scotland warned that the amendment could have a regressive effect on social security benefits. "Opening up such a formal legal relationship to family members could lead to questions about the nature of the family unit, blurring the integrity of laws prohibiting sexual relationships within families."

The government says the change makes its proposals unworkable and it intends to try to overturn the amendment. A government source told BBC News Online: "It’s clearly a wrecking amendment to progressive legislation. It’s very disappointing the Tories want to scupper it." Gay lobby group Stonewall says it is "deeply distressed" about the outcome. The organisation’s chief executive, Ben Summerskill, said: "It’s a number of years since we have heard peers referring openly to ‘unnatural sexual practices’ and ‘hijacking’ of the word gay. "Sadly, it suggests that making provisions for family carers was not the only motive for attempting to amend the Bill today."

But Tory constitutional affairs spokesman Alan Duncan said a few simple changes would make all the difference. He accused the government of "throwing their toys out their pram".

The Guardian, London, England ( ),3604,1252989,00.html

July 3, 2004

Pride and prejudice in the gay 1920s– Balls and classified ads were part of the thriving early 20th-century scene

by Tania Branigan, The Guardian
The tens of thousands of marchers celebrating gay pride in London today know that generations have battled for the rights they now cherish. But few realise how vibrant gay culture was in early 20th-century Britain – with weekly drag balls and a thriving personal ads market – nor how defiant their predecessors were in the face of repression.

"The 50s and 60s saw a big clampdown against manifestations of gay culture,
" said Matt Houlbrook, a lecturer in history at Liverpool University who spoke at Out of the Past, a gay history conference at the National Archives in London this week. "What’s remarkable about the 20s and 30s was how open and widespread it was in some places. In some circumstances it was very, very visible and strong and vibrant and rich. The very nature of the [drag balls] means that you only find out about them when the police found out about them, because they were driven by the whole need for secrecy. But all the evidence points to these being weekly events, often with 50 to 100 men present."

Dr Houlbrook, whose forthcoming book Queer London examines gay culture in the capital in the first half of the 20th century, discovered the drag balls by chance while searching for files on court cases involving homosexuality. Among the files was a large cardboard box. "In the middle of a reading room, amid rather dusty academics, I pulled out a carmine-pink sparkly kimono top," he recalled. "The surrealness of finding this dress in the middle of the national archives was what really struck me." The clothing had been an exhibit in the long forgotten but once notorious case of "Lady Austin’s Camp Boys", which gripped the country in 1933.

At a private ballroom in Holland Park Avenue, west London, 60 men were arrested in a police raid after undercover officers had watched them dancing, kissing and having sex in make-up and women’s clothes. But despite facing a lengthy prison term and disgrace, the organiser, "Lady Austin", told officers: "There is nothing wrong [in who we are]. You call us nancies and bum boys but before long our cult will be allowed in the country."

However, 27 of the men arrested that night were jailed for between three and 20 months and it was not until 1967 that homosexuality was legalised in the UK. "Lady Austin was prepared to stand up to the police and assert his moral worth. That was incredibly brave," said Dr Houlbrook. "Other men there also said that what they were doing wasn’t wrong and even repeated those claims in court, at a time when to be recognised as gay could be disastrous. For many men it led to unemployment, breakdowns and suicide."

Paradoxically, prurient tabloid articles about the case may have given strength to other gay men by showing them they were not alone. Dr Houlbrook cited the case of a Liverpool man arrested for wearing drag, who said the trial had inspired him to "experiment".
Other gay men found partners through personal advertisements, which could be an equally risky strategy. In 1920 the publisher of a magazine called the Link and three gay subscribers were each sentenced to two years of hard labour on charges of indecency and conspiring to corrupt public morals. The case followed complaints from a prominent campaigner against white slavery.

Around a quarter of the Link’s advertisements were placed by men seeking other men – for instance, a "tall, manly Hercules" – said Harry Cocks, who documents the case in his forthcoming book, Imagining Sex Before the 60s: Britain, 1900-1960. "Some adverts even appeared in the national press, such as the Daily Express, although they were not quite so blatant. People would ask for ‘chums’ of their own sex and offer to take people on holiday," added Dr Cocks, a history lecturer at Birkbeck College, south London.

One man responding to an advert in the Link wrote that he was "very fond of artistic surroundings, beautiful colours in furniture and curtains, and softly shaded lamps and all those beautiful things which appeal to the refined tastes of an artistic mind". He added: "All my love is for my own sex", and wrote that he longed to give his love "in the most intimate way". "Gay adverts often had references to Edward Carpenter, Oscar Wilde and Walt Whitman, or would say ‘I have an unusual temperament’. "Some of them might look euphemistic to us, but even at the time people thought they were obvious advertisements of homosexual interests," said Dr Cocks.


August 27, 2004

RAF comes out at Gay Pride

The RAF is coming out this weekend – with a recruiting drive at Manchester’s Gay Pride festival. Eight officers will staff a float to show how the armed forces welcome people from different backgrounds, reports the Guardian. This is the first time in the armed forces’ history that gay recruits have been specifically targeted.

Until January 2003 it was legal for the armed forces to reject gay and lesbian officers. But the European court of human rights in Strasbourg ruled that the ban breached gay peoples’ right to respect for private life. A spokeswoman for the RAF said: "Along with the other armed forces, the RAF tries to reflect the community from which it draws it members. "We have recruitment policies that recognise that people from different backgrounds can make positive contributions. An individual’s sexual orientation is none of the RAF’s business." Mary Murphy, Manchester city council’s spokeswoman for lesbian issues said: "It is excellent to see so many different community groups participating in the celebration."

Belfast Telegraph Belfast Northern Ireland

30 August 2004

Seventy couples take pride in mass gay wedding in Manchester

Seventy gay and lesbian couples tied the knot in Manchester yesterday at Britain’s biggest homosexual wedding. The Rev Andy Braunston of the Manchester Metropolitan Community Church delivered the mass service at Sackville Park, in Manchester’s Gay Village, as part of the Manchester Pride festival. "The ceremony was a chance to celebrate our love and campaign for the right to marry so that we are treated equally," Mr Braunston said. "After all, love is not discriminatory." Gay and lesbian couples have no legal recognition. The Civil Partnership Bill, going through Parliament, will give homosexual couples legal status for the first time.

November 19, 2004

House of Lords approves civil partnerships

The United Kingdom on Wednesday joined a growing family of European countries that recognize same-sex couples. The British House of Lords has approved the Civil Partnership Bill, which will give registered same-sex partners in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland nearly all the rights and responsibilities enjoyed by heterosexual married couples. Observers expect Scotland to adopt the law as well.

" We are glad to see the increase in the numbers of European countries recognizing same-sex partnerships," said Patricia Prendiville, executive director of the International Lesbian and Gay Association. "This clearly demonstrates that same-sex relationships are not only becoming socially acceptable in Europe, but Europe is also moving toward true democracy where all forms of discriminations are removed."

The Civil Partnership Bill will now become the Civil Partnership Act.
The first ceremonies are expected to occur next fall. In the meantime, the country’s tax and legal codes will be tweaked to include same-sex couples. ILGA officials said they have hopes that the U.K. development will also influence votes in Ireland, Hungary, and Spain, where the issue of legal recognition of same-sex partnerships is being debated.

International News #552
Rex Wockner

November 22, 2004

UK civil-partnership bill passes

The United Kingdom’s Civil Partnership Bill cleared its final hurdles Nov. 17 and 19 — passage in the House of Lords and royal assent. The vote was 251-136. The measure passed the House of Commons Nov. 9 by a vote of 389-47. Legally registered same-sex couples will obtain marriage rights in areas that include accident compensation, life insurance, immigration, inheritance, intestacy, pensions, taxation, tenancy, spouse and child support and workplace benefits.

"Finally, the House of Lords has recognized that Britain is a tolerant 21st-century nation," said Ben Summerskill, head of the gay lobby group Stonewall. "For the first time, the front benches of all three major political parties have backed equality for gay people. That represents a hugely positive change."

The Coalition for Marriage Equality simultaneously welcomed and denounced the bill. "The fact remains that same-sex marriage is illegal in the United Kingdom and the Civil Partnership Bill will remain a separate system for those in same-sex relationships — almost equal, yet oddly segregated from the rest of mainstream society," said spokesman David Henry. The coalition’s Terry Sanderson added: "The government constantly tells us that equality is at the top of its agenda, but repeatedly gay people are given less than equality. This is a glaring example of that". The first registrations likely will not take place until next fall, after the UK’s tax and benefits systems have been overhauled to accommodate same-sex couples. UK

23 March, 2005

Fight against gay bullying reaches Wales

by Ben Townley
A campaign aiming to tackle homophobia in schools is being launched in Wales next month, in a bid to cut anti-gay bullying across the country. Stonewall’s Education For All campaign will be launched at the Stonewall Cymru annual conference on 9th April. It will see resources delivered to schools, colleges and universities throughout the region over a 3-5 year time period. The resources are expected to offer specific advice to teachers on how to tackle homophobic bullying, as well as guidance on the implementation of anti-gay bullying strategies.

Stonewall Cymru director Dr Alison Parken said the initiative was vital for not only protecting lesbian, gay and bisexual young people, but also to change the teaching culture. She said that the impact of Section 28 is still being felt by teachers, who worry that talking about sexual diversity goes against government advice. “It’s a very sad fact but homophobic bullying goes on day in day out in schools in Wales," she said today. "In everyday speech, children and some teachers use the phrase ‘That’s so gay’, or ‘Don’t be so gay’."

For children questioning their sexuality, or being bullied because someone thinks they are lesbian or gay, it sends a very clear message not to mention it or try to discuss it with friends, teachers or even parents." Recent research suggests that LGB young people who gain strong GCSE passes are less likely to continue with higher education because of bullying fears. Additionally, only 6% of schools in England and Wales have policies aimed at protecting gay students from bullying. A similar project has already been launched in the UK, where it received support from London mayor Ken Livingstone. Resources were sent out to schools advising on how best to tackle anti-gay bullying last February. Dr Parken said the issues of bullying was vital in the protection of LGB young people. "We must stop education in Wales being blighted by verbal or physical abuse," she said. UK

23 March, 2005

Property prices driving gay couples to the coast

by Ben Townley
A new study conducted by the University of Brighton has revealed the UK’s top cities for lesbian and gay couples, with some surprising findings.
The study, helmed by Dr Darren Smith at the University, documented the number of couples who self-identified as living with a partner of the same sex. It suggested that the largest number of lesbian and gay couples were now more likely to be found in rural coastal areas, rather than the metropolitan centres usually associated with gay life.

Aside from London and Brighton, the ongoing study also found a high concentration of same-sex couples in Bournemouth, Cambridge and Lewes. Additionally, Glasgow featured higher than Edinburgh or even more surprisingly considering the world famous gay scene, Manchester.

Dr Smith is attributing the rise to a combination of increasing property prices in urban centres and the changes in lifestyle patterns as people begin to settle down. "If you look at the age profiles, I’d suggest they were at the early stages of their life courses," he told UK today. He said as people begin to grow older and settle down with a partner, they move to more rural areas because of its "different appeal". He added that coastal rural areas are increasingly beginning to attract alternative family structures. "As the life course progresses, people move out of metropolitan centres to rural areas for a better quality of life," he added.

He says that traditional gay centres are losing same-sex couples because of the problem of increasingly high prices. "The influence of gentrification is so deeply ingrained in metropolitan areas that property prices are reaching an upper limit," he said. "Many people are keen to move to areas where property is cheaper." Other cities to feature in the top 10 include Blackpool, Bristol and Oxford. The study is now continuing, with Dr Smith stressing that the true number of same-sex couples across the UK is probably much higher due to under-reporting. UK

6 April 2005

Heroes and Heroines for Brighton Pride

The theme to this year’s Brighton and Hove Pride event will be Heroes and Heroines, organisers have announced. The event, seen as one of the country’s big three gay Pride celebrations, usually sees tens of thousands of people flock to the seaside to take part.

In recent years, numbers have reportedly increased whilst other cities have seen less and less people taking part.

Organisers said the theme was decided on by the event’s panel and is intended to allow participants freedom to dress up.
"It’s time to get stitching, weaving, gluing and sewing ready for anything from Wonder Woman to Superman, Zorro to Bond and Captain Kirk to Luke Skywalker," Pride bosses said today.

"But it’s real life heroes and heroines too – from Churchill to Chris Smith, Beckham to Arnie, Bette Davis to Diana, Madonna to Boy George to George Michael – the list is endless." Those wishing to take part in the Pride’s parade still have time to register. Those wishing to do so, should visit for more information.

The parade will take place on Saturday August 6th
, although the Pride festival will officially begin seven days earlier.Small grants are also still available to groups in order to support their activities at Brighton Pride on 6th August. The Community Chest has a total fund of £5,000 and successful applicants are encouraged use an award to decorate their float, buy balloons promoting their group or to create a space in the park. Closing date for applications is 27th May 2005. London Bureau

April 20, 2005

Gay Iranian Kills Himself After UK Asylum Appeal Denied

by Peter Moore
A gay man who feared he would be executed if he were deported to his native Iran killed himself after the British government turned down his second appeal for asylum a coroner’s inquest was told on Tuesday. Hussein Nasseri, 26, was terrified of being returned to Iran where homosexuality is illegal and punishable by death. An inquest this week into his death was told that Nasseri entered the UK in March 2000 and claimed asylum. He told authorities that he had been persecuted because of his sexuality and had been thrown in jail when it was discovered he was gay.

Nasseri managed to escape and made his way to England. A friend testified at the inquest that Nasseri was in panic after learning that his asylum application had been denied. “I saw him two weeks before he died. He was very upset. He said he wanted to kill himself. He said he had bought a gun to kill himself,” his friend, Nader Ashkani, also from Iran, testified.

On June 25, last year, just days after learning he would be deported Nasseri shot himself between the eyes with an airgun modified to fire .22 caliber bullets. The plight of gay asylum seekers has been highlighted by LGBT rights group Outrage. The group has accused the Labor government of callousness. Another case is that of a 25 year old Algerian who is also facing deportation. The man, identified by Outrage as Saad B, has lived in the UK since he was 15. He has a good job and a domestic partner.

He and his partner, Matthew Skelly, were planning to register with Britain’s domestic partner registry when it begins in December.
But, Saad’s asylum application has been rejected. All his appeals have been turned down – despite the fact that he has lived his entire adult life in the UK. He is scheduled to be deported just weeks before the registry opens – but, if he were already registered, he would be considered a "spouse" and entitled to live in the UK. “I fear for my safety and mental well-being if I am sent back to Algeria,” he said. Like Iran and most other Islamic states, Algeria practices Sharia law which calls for death for homosexuals. UK

6 June, 2005

London Gay flag ban: reversal could take months

by Ben Townley,
A reversal on the decision to ban rainbow flags in the heart of London’s gay community could take months, if not years, councillors in charge of planning have admitted. The ban, which has angered campaigning groups and the capital’s mayor Ken Livingstone, saw rainbow flags withdrawn from shops and businesses throughout Soho earlier this year. Last month, the Prowler shop was refused the necessary planning permission to erect a flag outside its shop in the heart of the district.

Previously, Conservative councillors for Westminster Council, which oversees the administration of Soho, had said the flags cause "visual clutter", despite owners of bars and clubs saying they illustrate the inclusivity and safety lesbian and gay people can expect in the heart of London’s gay village. Now, the council’s leader Simon Milton has said the council will draw up guidance to help view future applications favourably. However, he told The Guardian newspaper this could take up to five months to implement. Other councillors fear the Prowler decision could lead to year long delays in the resurrection of the flags, seen as a symbol of equality for gay people. "This decision can now be cited as a precedent for refusing any other similar applications," councillor David Boothroyd told the newspaper.

" The only way the council can make a change is to change the planning policy, which has to be consulted on. It would take many months or even years." The Prowler rejection sparked a furore last month, with Mayor Ken Livingstone accusing the councillors who blocked the flag as "Neanderthals". " Lesbian and gay businesses make an enormous contribution to the life of this part of London. They should be congratulated not discriminated against," he said, calling for a u-turn on the decision. "The sooner this decision is overturned the better."

Boothroyd also accused his fellow councillors of suffering from "bigotry compounded by incompetence". “This decision was wrong in planning law, bigoted in practice and gives Westminster council an appalling reputation for insulting the gay community," he said at the time.


11 June 2005

Canterbury’s first Gay Pride heralded

A Kent city’s first Gay Pride events are taking place, including a Picnic in the Park on Saturday. A parade through Canterbury ended at Dane John Gardens, where there was a range of entertainment and stalls. Andrew Brettell, chairman of Pride In Canterbury, said it was a "significant day" for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. Council, police and health services were using the event to forge better contacts with the LGBT community. Traders from the Canterbury area were joined by stalls run by businesses from as far away as Manchester. Speeches were backed up by messages of support from Sir Ian McKellen and Dame Elizabeth Taylor.

‘Lively and vibrant’
Organiser Martin Lammas said the day offered an opportunity to create a thriving gay community in east Kent. " We want to show everybody that the gay community is lively and vibrant and has a lot to offer," said Mr Lammas. Canterbury’s Pride events in June also include a display of gay literature at the city’s library and film screenings, as part of the London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, at the University of Kent’s Gulbenkian Theatre. Pride In Canterbury hopes to make Picnic in the Park an annual event alongside an arts festival. UK

15 June, 2005

Gay people still facing discrimination at work

by Ben Townley
Six months after the introduction of laws protecting lesbian and gay people from discrimination in the work place, LGBT people are still suffering prejudice from employers and colleagues, according to a UK Survey.
Nearly a third of respondents to the survey say they have recently suffered discrimination at work despite the new laws, with the majority not feeling confident enough to report it to employers. The results come from a survey conducted with trade union Unison during April and May of UK readers.

Of the respondents, around 33% had faced discrimination and prejudice at work. Just over 40% of those who did suffer some sort of prejudice felt uncomfortable approaching bosses to complain. Groups who have campaigned for more awareness of the new legislation say this shows victims still fear that raising the issue could cost them dearly. With 48% of respondents either not out at work, or only out to some people at work, the problem of highlighting their sexuality while talking about the problem could be a major factor in deterring many from reporting any incidents, they add.

Unison LGBT Officer Carola Towle says that, while she recognises the true impact of the new legislation will be felt over time, she fears vulnerable members of the LGBT community could be hit hardest. "In one sense, we should not be surprised," she said today. "We’ve had race and gender protection at work for years, but cases of discrimination are still coming to light," she added. "However, more needs to be done to help raise awareness of these new laws and help protect those who may not be as aware of the problems as others."

Gay charity Stonewall has already targeted both the LGBT community with adverts in the gay press and the business community through its Diversity Champions scheme. The organisation is currently distributing guidelines to businesses across the country, in a bid to raise awareness and educate bosses about their LGBT workforce. Since the laws were introduced, two victims of discrimination have been awarded compensation. More cases are expected to come to light in the coming months, after the current claims against Deutsche Bank and other city giants hit the courts. However, Ms Towle says a concerted effort will be needed to stamp out homophobia at work as soon as possible. "This is not the end," she said today. "The work on this starts here."

Guardian Newspapers Limited

June 16, 2005

Being gay is in the genes, say researchers

by Polly Curtis, education correspondent
Being gay is nothing to do with your relationship with your mother, your father, or your best friend at boarding school; it is all in the genes, according to the scientific authors of a new book on the subject.

Born Gay: The Psychobiology of Sexual Orientation, by Qazi Rahman, a psychobiologist at the University of East London, and Glenn Wilson, a personality specialist from the University of London, reviews research from the last 15 years into why people are gay. The evidence, they conclude, is that people are born with their sexuality defined, and it is not the result of their relationships with other people in their early life, as had been previously thought.

In 1990, the psychobiologist Simon LeVay published research that revealed differences in small parts of the brain between gay and straight men. Three years later, further research argued that there were chromosomal differences. Since then there has been an "absolute explosion" in research into the area, Dr Rahman said, but his is the first attempt to analyse it together. " There’s the classical gay man with a smothering mother and distant father idea – which comes from Freud’s oedipal complex theories. For most of us scientific psychologists, Freud’s theory is like astrology to a physicist. In other words it’s rubbish," he told

" Gay and straight men don’t differ in their relationships with their parents. Where they do it might be put down to the fact that if you’re a biologically gay boy, you are more likely to be feminine. You might well expect that fathers are not too happy. And mothers seek to protect." He said there was no evidence that people could "learn" to be gay, for example children of gay parents are no more likely to be gay than their peers.

The researchers examined evidence from the fields of psychology, neuroscience, genetics, endocrinology and evolutionary biology, and concluded that sexual orientation is determined by a combination of genetics and hormonal activity in the womb – and that upbringing, childhood experience and personal choice have little or no influence. They argue that the 2% to 4% of people in the population who are gay are born that way, and this proportion does not seem to vary across societies. While men tend to be either heterosexual or homosexual, with little evidence for true bisexuality, women show more mixed preferences.

The book, which has a pink cover with black lettering and an Andy Warhol-style design of people in a London street, one picked out to represent the one gay man in 25, was published last week. UK

5 July 2005

Police award Peter Tatchell

Veteran campaigner Peter Tatchell has been saluted by the Gay Police Association (GPA) for his work on promoting gay rights and fighting hate crime. The campaigner was given the award as part of the GPA conference, which celebrates 15 years of the organisation and its work across the UK.

GPA chair Paul M Cahill MBE said the campaigner was chosen not only because he was a human and civil rights campaigner, but also because he had become the "conscience" of the police service. "Love him or hate him, Peter is unquestionably one of the most influential gay rights campaigners of all time," Cahill said. "Peter is not afraid to do what he knows to be morally and ethically right, even if this sometimes brings him into conflict with the law," he added.

"He has been a worthy adversary to the police service and in some respects acts as its conscience." "His principles are very similar to our own and we wanted to show him that we value his contribution to policing." Tatchell received the Matthew Windibank award, named after a founding member of the GPA, last week. The citation on the award recognises his "outstanding work as a gay and human rights campaigner".

Manchester Evening News

20 July 2005

Palestinian asylum seeker given a new chance to stay in Britain

A failed asylum seeker was given a new chance to stay in Britain today because he is a Muslim homosexual. Three appeal judges ruled that as a gay, the Palestinian would face persecution if he returned to his home in the Lebanon. The 34-year-old man, identified only as HC, left the refugee camp near Sidon where he was born in 1998 after the video shop where he worked was blown up. He was told by another resident of Camp 100 that he had caused the explosion because he knew HC was gay. Lord Justice Keene, giving the ruling of the court, said the man had told him homosexuality was against the Muslim religion and he must leave.

These facts had been accepted by an adjudicator after the Palestinian’s claim for asylum was refused in 2003 but his appeal had been dismissed, said the judge. Dr Alan George, a specialist in Middle Eastern political and economic affairs, gave written evidence that homosexuality is condemned by Muslims both in Lebanese and Palestinian society and that gays were subject to abuse and serious discrimination. Lord Justice Keene said the adjudicator had not dealt with the "substantial" evidence which pointed to the acute problems faced by a man who was both a Palestinian refugee and a homosexual.

August 25, 2005

Baby Girl for Lesbian Couple

A Lesbian couple have given birth to a baby girl in Swansea, it emerged today.

Michelle Whitcombe and Janet George are the first same-sex couple to go public after having a baby girl at Singleton Hospital.
Little Teigan was born prematurely following her remarkable conception on November 11 last year. She is now seven weeks old.
Mum Michelle was inseminated with sperm from an anonymous medical student, while her partner, Janet, held her hand. She got pregnant straight away. Teigan was born on July 7.

But there had been problems during the pregnancy, and the baby wasn’t breathing when she was born and almost died. But now, weighing a healthy eight pounds five-and-a-half ounces, she is home in Gendros with her two mums. Michelle, aged 35, and 47-year-old Janet, said they understood some people would be critical of their decision to become gay parents. But they are adamant Teigan will be given as much love as any child born to a heterosexual couple. " We wanted a child together, and even though we are the same sex, we both really love her," said Janet. The appeal court quashed the findings of an Immigration Appeal Tribunal and referred the case to the new Asylum and Immigration Tribunal for a fresh decision. UK

First lesbian opera premieres

16 September 2005

The English National Opera will host the stage premiere of The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant tonight, the first all female, lesbian opera. Gerald Barry’s eagerly anticipated piece, based on a play by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, will take to the stage at the ENO’s home in London tonight. It has already prompted a flurry of controversy, with some traditionalists fearing the piece is an attempt to pander to a modern audience that is increasingly turning away from opera.

However, these claims have been rejected by those behind the piece who say it instead illustrates how the ENO is better reflecting modern society. The translated work will be close to the film version of Fassbinder’s play, which achieved cult status and notoriety in the 1970s for its study of loneliness and obsession. It follows six female characters who are entwined as lovers or family members, and their struggle to forge relationships with each other. The Bitter Tears… is the first all female, lesbian commission from RTE and ENO. It will be brought to the stage by opera and theatre director Richard Jones, who has already produced acclaimed work for the ENO, and will be conducted by Andre De Ridder. The show runs on September 16/20/23/29 and October 1/4/7. UK

24 October 2005

Gay couples celebrate immigration changes

The government has announced changes to the immigration system, ahead of the new civil partnership laws, that could make it easier for same-sex, bi-national couples to stay together. The changes will bring the immigration rules into line with those for heterosexual couples and will allow civil partners and proposed civil partners to be treated in the same way that spouses and fiancés are currently treated.

Additionally, in a bid to help ease the projected congestion of applications, applications for approval will be accepted from 14th November, although the new civil partnership laws do not come into force until the 5th December. Gay couples and those battling for those impacted by the immigration issues were celebrating today. Nichola Carter, a specialist on immigration laws, of H2O Law said the changes would have a positive impact on lesbian and gay couples. “The Civil Partnership Act 2004 signals a new era for same-sex partners whose simple desire is to be treated on an equal footing with their heterosexual counterparts,” she told GAY.COM today.

Ms Carter also praised the work done by UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group for its work on the issue. “UKLGIG paved the way for the Act over a decade ago, by holding the Government accountable for its unequal treatment of same sex unions where one of the partners was from overseas.”

“The Act will finally enable couples, many of whom have been separated unjustly by the harsh interpretation of the requirement to prove that they have resided together for a period of two years, to live together in the UK simply because they are in a committed and recognised relationship and have sufficient funds.”
The changes were announced in a written ministerial statement in parliament this morning. The statement said the changes will “ensure that civil partners and proposed civil partners are afforded the same treatment” as heterosexual couples.

Those subject to immigration control who wish to register a civil partnership will be required to demonstrate either an entry clearance granted for the purpose of registering their partnership, a certificate of approval from the Home Office or settled status in the UK.
Application forms for the certificate of approval will be available on the Immigration & Nationality Directorate website before the 14th. Same-sex couples are being reminded not to use the marriage forms currently available.

November 29, 2005-December 03, 2005

Gay Brits getting ready for civil unions

Gay men and lesbians in the United Kingdom are gearing up for December 5—the day that same-sex couples above the age of 16 can enter into a civil partnership. And, according to USA Today, hundreds are expected to register—including singer Elton John, 58, and his longtime partner, David Furnish, 43, a Canadian filmmaker. In an interview published Thursday, John told a gay magazine that he plans to wed Furnish on December 21. European countries that now recognize either civil unions or legal marriage include Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, France, and Belgium. In the United States, only Massachusetts allows same-sex marriage. Vermont and Connecticut allow civil unions.

The British public has generally supported the new law, which gives same-sex couples in civil partnerships inheritance, pension, and bereavement rights as well as next-of-kin standing. "A lot of people in the U.K. wish to formalize their relationships. It’s about time it happened," said Paul Roseby, 39, a broadcaster. He and partner James Tod plan a partnership ceremony in two years.

Still, gay rights groups are angry that Britain does not allow its civil unions to be called marriages.
Andy Forrest—spokesman for the group Stonewall—told the newspaper that it would have been nearly impossible to get same-sex marriage through Parliament. "We thought there was a sense of urgency in getting the legislation through. What it’s called can be argued about later," he said. There are notable differences between the civil unions and marriage: Prenuptial agreements are called preregistration agreements; divorce is called dissolution; and neither party can cite adultery as a reason for the split-up.

2 December 2005

Jamaica asylum success could see more gay protection

Gay men fleeing persecution in Jamaica could be given access to asylum quicker in the future, after a ruling from the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal (AIT) said the country’s authorities are failing to offer protection to sexual minority groups. Senior Immigration Judge P Moulden ruled earlier this week that a gay man should be given asylum in the UK because of the threat to his safety if he returned to the Caribbean island. The tribunal, which used the case as a country guide that will be used by other asylum judges in the future, said as well as “persecution”, gay men would face difficulties in relocating themselves back at home. Although the Home Office conceded that authorities in Jamaica do not offer protection to lesbian and gay victims of persecution, it could still appeal the AIT decision.

However, legal experts told GAY.COM that it would be unlikely to do so. “This is a significant decision in that it records that both the Home Office and the Tribunal accept that on the objective evidence available the Jamaican Authorities are unable to provide protection for gay men in Jamaica,” Derek McConnell from South West Law, Solicitors, who acted for the asylum seeker, said in a statement today. “The evidence of homophobic hostility towards gays in Jamaica is all too clear,” he added.

In his ruling, Judge Moulden made statements based on research gathered by the body on the problem of homophobia in Jamaica.
“Men who are perceived to be homosexual and have for this reason suffered persecution in Jamaica are likely to be at risk of persecution on return,” he said. “The Secretary of State conceded that, as a general rule, the Authorities do not provide homosexual men with a sufficiency of protection,” he added.

“The significance of this is that tribunal has identified this case as representative of a problem in Jamaica,” Mr McConnell told Gay.Com. “The conclusion is that protection doesn’t happen.” Jamaica has been in the headlines in the UK since the murder of a leading activist last year. The death of Brian Williamson on the island sparked vigils across the globe, including amongst Britain’s gay Jamaican communities. Additionally, human rights organisations including Amnesty called for more action to be taken against the country because of its treatment of LGBT people.

December 06, 2005

Gay couples prepare to get hitched in Britain

By Deborah Haynes
While the Civil Partnership Act does not use the term ‘gay marriage’ it aims to make partnership as close to a marriage contract as possible. Gay and lesbian couples in Britain began officially registering their plans to tie the knot under a historic new law that came into effect on Monday. Tens of thousands of same-sex couples are expected to sign so-called civil partnerships over the next five years alone, giving them basically the same rights and responsibilities as their married, heterosexual counterparts.

“ This is bringing into force a law that will recognise legal partnerships of same-sex couples for the first time,” said Megg Munn, minister for women and equality. “I have met a lot of couples who will be registering their partnerships in a few days’ time and they are really looking forward to it so I think it is a very important day,” she told BBC News. Couples can register their intent to form a civil partnership from Monday but the first “gay weddings” will actually take place on December 19 in Northern Ireland, December 20 in Scotland and December 21 in England and Wales once a compulsory waiting period has passed.

Roger Lockyer, 77, and Percy Steven, 66, from Westminster, central London, were one of the first couples to take advantage of the Civil Partnership Act. “This is a landmark document and an important day,” said Steven, a former actor and arts and drama lecturer, after the pair registered their civil partnership plans in the Yellow Marriage Room at Westminster Council House. “We are able to publicly declare that we are no different to anybody else,” he said.

The couple, both retired university lecturers, will exchange vows on December 21 in one of England’s first “gay marriages”. “We have been a partnership for 40 years but now we can legally say we are full citizens and that is very important,” said Steven. “ Britain has been in the Dark Ages over this but today we have made the first step into the 21st century.” The new law, which was passed in November last year, enables gay couples to benefit from a dead partner’s pension, grant next-of-kin rights in hospitals and exempt them from inheritance tax on a partner’s home. The Act does not use the term “gay marriage” but civil partnerships have been designed to be as close to a marriage contract as possible.

Partners will even be able to dissolve the agreement in a form of divorce. To make a civil partnership, a couple must register their intent, wait a compulsory 15 days and then go to a register office or other authorised place. There they sign an official civil partnership document in front of a registrar and two witnesses. The ceremony is much like a civil wedding. Anticipation about the new law coming into force has been building in recent weeks. It even has a showbiz element. Pop star Elton John and his longstanding partner David Furnish intend to be among the first to sign up in December. George Michael has also announced his impending “marriage” to his companion Kenny Goss. Afp

7 December, 2005

Man dies hours after his gay wedding

by Ben Townley
A terminally ill gay man who was given special permission to hold a civil partnership with his partner early has died. Matthew Roche, 46, was ill with lung cancer and given dispensation by the Worthing registrar to hold the ceremony on Monday, hours after the new laws came into force. The registrar allowed the pair to avoid the waiting period between announcing the intention to register and holding a ceremony, after Mr Roche said he feared he would not live long enough to celebrate the wedding.

He had said that holding the ceremony was important to both him and his partner, Christopher Cramp, especially since he was so ill.
They were legally joined at St Barnabas Hospice in Worthing, West Sussex surrounded by friends and family. According to press reports, Mr Roche had said he “really, really needed to get married” minutes after the ceremony. "Chris and I have always wanted to do this – it is just a shame that I have been taken so early," he is quoted as saying. “We are very lucky indeed to be given the opportunity.” Mr Roche died on Tuesday, the Hospice said.

Gay marriage landmark:
Elton and Dave among first gay couples to wed

by Phil Kemp
"Legislation permitting ‘gay marriages’ comes into force" today, writes the Times, which says it will add a new "Civil Partnerships" section to its famous "Births, Marriages and Deaths" column as a result. Among the most feted couples to get engaged in the run-up to the change in the law are Sir Elton John and his partner David Furnish. However, the Times focuses on a less famous couple from Lyme Regis in Dorset, who have been together since 1972 and more closely reflect the reality of the legislation change.

The Independent predicts a "pink pound boom as companies cash in on gay weddings", with Brighton set to "oversee the first civil partnerships in Britain".

" More than 400 couples have pre-registered for a ceremony" in the seaside city, with "three couples…to tie the knot at 8am on 21 December, the earliest time possible". Among the most proactive cities in Britain gearing up for same-sex marriages are Manchester, we’re told, which has already prepared for the new law by running a "Gay Wedding Show" in November. In Scotland, "gay clubs have rushed to become licensed for civil partnership ceremonies", while in London, the London Eye "is proving a popular venue with a package that includes a capsule bedecked with flowers".

21 December, 2005

Blair: Civil partnerships a “landmark moment”

by Ben Townley
Prime Minister Tony Blair has voiced his support for civil partnerships, saying the new laws will be “correcting an obvious injustice” for lesbian and gay people. In an article written for The Independent newspaper, the Prime Minister says the legal recognition of same-sex relationships is an example of legislation “keeping pace” with social change.

“By correcting an obvious injustice, removing fear and providing security, [civil partnerships] will change the lives of tens of thousands of people for the better,” Blair writes. “It is also, importantly, another step towards the fairer, more tolerant country which this Labour Government pledged to build – and an answer, too, to those who convince themselves that politics changes nothing.”
He also praises the broad support for the laws, dismissing any political criticism of the proposals when they were passing through parliament as “downright spiteful”.

“In general, past hostility and suspicions have been replaced with tolerance and understanding. Our laws and political culture, however, had simply not kept pace with these changes,” he added, although he did warn that more needs to be done to tackle injustices. “There is, of course, no room for complacency. There is still too much injustice, discrimination and unfairness. But in ceremonies up and down the country this week, we can also see that, as a society and country, we continue to move in the right direction.” His comments were echoed by Meg Munn, the Deputy Equality Minister, who helped steer the implementation of the new laws after Jacqui Smith changed roles in a post-election reshuffle.

"For too long same-sex couples who have chosen to share their lives have found that they have no protection in law and no recognition for their commitment,” she said today. “I am delighted that we’re ending that injustice." Gay rights groups have also welcomed the new laws, which are now in force across the whole of the UK. Ben Summerskill, chief executive of Stonewall, said today was a “momentous occasion”. “Britain is taking a significant step forward into the 21st century,” he added. “The warm welcome that so many people have shown to civil partnership demonstrates that the wider public is considerably more progressive than those politicians who expressed so much anxiety over this.” “We wish all couples taking part every happiness for their futures together.” Peter Tatchell, said.

The most high-profile partnership of Sir Elton John and David Furnish will be good news for those who live in countries where homosexuality is still illegal. “Global media coverage of the civil partnership of David and Elton will raise international awareness about gay partnership rights,” he said. “It will give hope and inspiration to millions of lesbians and gay men worldwide who seek acceptance, respect and human rights.” More than 600 couples will be celebrating their relationship today in civil partnerships across the UK.

Dec 22 2005

Zimbabwean ‘lesbian’ ends 33-day UK hunger strike

By Staff Reporter
A Zimbabwean woman being held in a UK detention centre has ended a 33-day hunger strike after being finally given the right to a bail hearing after six months incarceration. The woman was protesting her detention without trial, as she is an asylum applicant to the UK. She says that as a lesbian, she faces homophobic violence in her native Zimbabwe and cannot return.

An independent doctor assessed the woman early this month, and as a result of malnutrition recommended she be transferred to a hospital. The detention centre initially refused to comply, but later agreed to provide hospital care as her condition deteriorated.
“ (The woman) has now received medical treatment and is slowly recovering. Last week, she was transferred from hospital back to Yarls Wood Detention Centre,” said the African Affairs spokesman of LGBT rights group OutRage.

“ We are backing her bail application and her bid for asylum in the UK. It would be criminal to return her to the hell-hole that is Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe.” The woman who cannot be named for her protection, initially escaped Zimbabwe in 1994 after she was beaten by police and told to renounce her lesbianism or face further beatings and arrest. She went into hiding in South Africa after escaping twice from a refugee detention centre there.

In South Africa she faced further violence because of her sexuality, and was forced into prostitution under violence and threats. She escaped to the UK with the help of a friend. A UK Immigration Tribunal halted all deportations to Zimbabwe after ruling that they faced possible torture in Zimbabwe. Subsequently, hudreds of Zimbabwean asylum seekers held in UK detention centres were released.

However, the UK continues to detain Zimbabweans who came into the country using passports obtained in neighbouring countries — notably in South Africa, Zambia and Malawi. The UK government insists they are not Zimbabwean nationals — including in some cases where the South African government has confirmed them as non-South African citizens.

Join The Debate On This Article On The Newzimbabwe.Com Forums –

Times Online

December 29, 2005

Man arrested over murder of Tennyson’s gay great-grandson

By Jenny Booth and agencies
Police investigating the fatal stabbing of the 85-year-old great-grandson of the Victorian poet laureate Alfred, Lord Tennyson this morning arrested a 44-year-old man in West London. Beryl Hallam Augustine Tennyson, known to his friends as Hallam, was found dead in his bed after police were called to his house in Highgate at 11.20pm on December 21. He had suffered serious head injuries and several stab wounds. A post-mortem examination at St Thomas’ Hospital mortuary gave cause of death as stab wounds to the neck. DCI Tony Nash described the killing as a brutal attack on an elderly and vulnerable man, and appealed for anyone who had seen him in his last few days alive to contact the police.

" Despite his years Mr Tennyson was a lively individual who continued to lead a full and active life," he added. Mr Tennyson, a retired BBC executive who was educated at Eton, invited men back to his flat in Crouch End up to three times a week. A list of those believed to have been regular visitors has been provided by a former boyfriend and detectives are trying to trace them. Relatives described Mr Tennyson, who has two children and seven grandchildren, as "a colourful character" whose behaviour concerned his family. His daughter-in-law, Janice, who is married to his son, Jonathan, a professor of physics at University College London, said: "Normally you worry about your teenage children, but we were worried about him. We are all absolutely devastated. We were all very close to him, particularly our children, who shared with him a love of drama."

She said that he had been found by his former partner when he returned from watching a football match on Wednesday. Mr Tennyson wrote about his homosexuality in an article seven years ago. "Lord Tennyson, my great-grandfather, lived from 1809 to 1892 and would no doubt be absolutely horrified by me," he said. "He was a sexual prude, whereas I’ve always been very liberal when it comes to sex." He was married for 30 years to Margo, a German Jewish refugee, despite having told her that he was a homosexual, a preference he discovered during the Second World War, in which he refused to fight. " I told Margo before we married that I was homosexual, but she did not know what that meant," he wrote. "I explained it to her, but she said she didn’t mind. Looking back, we were terribly rational about it.

" I went to see a psychiatrist who told me, quite ridiculously, that it was just a passing phase and that the love of a good woman could change me. " Despite my homosexuality, we became engaged in 1942, and three years later we married. My two brothers had been killed in the war and I had a tremendous urge to have children, to carry on the family line. I knew that I was very capable of having sexual relations with women, in fact before Margo I had already slept with two women, and as Margo accepted me for what I was, I decided to go ahead with the marriage. " Margo and I had a tremendously happy marriage and our sexual relations were adequate. Indeed, my wife thought they were more than adequate."

Mr Tennyson wrote a biography in 1984 in which he listed a string of homosexual liaisons. He wrote: "There has inevitably been a good deal of waste. Instead of spending hours haunting public lavatories, or other pick-up points, I might have read several books as long as War and Peace — I might even have written one." He also wrote about being spat at, assaulted and robbed during his hunt for companionship. After the autobiography, A Haunted Mind, was published, he received a fan letter from a man 13 years his junior and the two became lovers.

Mr Tennyson was named after his great grandfather’s close friend, the writer Arthur Hallam. The death of Hallam prompted the elegiac, mournful sequence In Memoriam, which was published in 1850, the year that Tennyson was appointed Poet Laureate by Queen Victoria. Today the Metropolitan Police said in a statement that a man was being questioned at a West London police station in connection with the murder.

Press Association Ltd, London

17 December 2005

‘Gay marriage’ attracts almost 700

Almost 700 "gay marriages" are due to take place across England and Wales next Wednesday when arrangements for the new civil partnerships come fully into operation. Thirteen couples have already formed civil partnerships under special arrangements since the law permitting them came into force on December 5. But in most circumstances, couples must wait 15 days after giving notice that they intend to do so, making next Wednesday the first day on which ceremonies can take place under the normal procedures.

In all, a total of 687 civil partnerships are due to be formed on December 21, the General Register Office has announced. The registration authority expecting the most civil partnerships is the City of Westminster, where 20 male couples will be joined. In Hampshire, there will be 18 civil partnership ceremonies – eight male couples and eight female – with 17 in Hammersmith & Fulham and 15 each in Brighton & Hove, Hertfordshire and West Sussex. Other areas expecting large numbers of civil partnerships include Cornwall, Richmond in south London and Suffolk (14 each), Devon, Kent and Worcestershire (12 each), Oxfordshire (11) and Essex, Kensington & Chelsea and Warwickshire (10).

The Civil Partnership Act enables same-sex couples to obtain legal recognition of their relationship, granting them new rights in areas such as employment, pension and inheritance. The partnerships are not officially regarded as "gay marriages".