GAY TIMES 97, October 1986

This month’s award to gross disservice to British journalism goes to The Star. Step forward Lloyd Taylor editor of that detestable organ, and claim the honour of managing to achieve the impossible—becoming even more squalid than The Sun.

The scene was set by The Star’s gossip columnist Peter Tory who still subscribes to the “gay plague” interpretation of Aids and therefore considers it a suitable topic for jollity. On two days this month (3rd and 5th Sept) he made bad taste and vicious “jokes” at the expense of people who are suffering from the disease. A more despicable use of newspaper space would be difficult to imagine until you come to The Star’s new columnist “Mills”.

He was introduced to us on 2 Sept under the heading “The Angry Voice”. We were told we could expect yet another semi-fascist ranter. “Mills will often find himself sharing a political bed of nails with… the National Front … ‘patriots’ … and all those whose political philosophy is entirely encompassed by the four-point plan: ‘Hang ‘em, flog ‘em, castrate ‘em and send ‘em home.” He would, he promised us, also rail against “Wooftahs, pooftahs, nancy boys, queers, lezzies—the perverts whose moral sin is to so abuse the delightful word ‘gay’ as to render it unfit for human consumption.”

“Mills” assured us that he would be an original and refreshing voice, but from this introduction he sounded to me just like all the other raving right-wingers who pollute the pages of our press: George Gale, Jean Rook, Paul Johnson, Peregrine Worsthorne, Richard Ingrams—any of them could have described themselves as Mills did.

Needless to say, his lack of anything new to say about gays was proved in the following column (9 Sept) which was headed: “Get back in the closet!” He wrote: “Insidiously, almost imperceptibly, the perverts have got the heterosexual majority with their backs against the wall (the safest place, actually …)” (Yawn) “The freaks proclaim their twisted morality almost nightly on TV … where will it ever end? Where it may end, of course, is by natural causes. The woofters have had a dreadful plague visited upon them, which we call Aids, and which threatens to decimate their ranks. Since the perverts offend the laws of God and nature, is it fanciful to suppose that one or both is striking back? … Little queers or big queers, Mills has had enough of them all—the lesbians, bisexuals and transsexuals, the hermaphrodites and the catamites and the gender benders who brazenly flaunt their sexual failings to the disgust and grave offence of the silent majority. A blight on them all says Mills.”

Sound familiar? “Mills” hadn’t finished, though, and continued to cram in every cliché, myth, lie and prejudice that has ever been invented by the anti-gay lobby. At any other time I would have written all this off as a sad example of the lamentable state of our press, but taken in conjunction with the other things that are happening all around us I can only describe it as an incitement to hatred and violence. It made a mockery of the NUJ’s “Campaign for Real People”, flaunting all the union’s codes of conduct. I have complained to the NUJ’s Ethics Council, but I hold little hope that there will be any check on the way the press are orchestrating this vicious campaign of anti-gay propaganda.

Campaign for Real People? Perhaps the NUJ would be better engaged in a Campaign for Real Newspapers,


When is a disease not a disease? Answer: when it’s associated with homosexuals. Then, apparently, it becomes “a straightforward moral issue.” This is the opinion of the Scottish Health Minister, Mr John McKay as quoted in The Guardian (5 Sept). Letting us know that he “did not think the public would expect him to make extra resources available to combat Aids”, he is quoted as saying: “I’m afraid it will just have to be treated as one of the problems of the health service. The only other payround is for people who get it to pay themselves, or someone else is always going to have to pay.”

So where does the “morality” come into such an argument when human misery and suffering has to take second place to money, and gay lives have a significantly lower price than heterosexual ones. If Mrs Thatcher and her insane back benchers share these values then I fear greatly for the future.


Thelma Holt “a middle-aged, heterosexual Christian” wrote a passionate, and compassionate letter to The GuardIian (12 Sept) in reply to the Minister’s comments. She spoke of her horror at the insidious idea that gay victims of Aids should be regarded differently to others. She also made the point that Aids is no more “self-inflicted” than those diseases caused by excessive alcohol, tobacco or rich food. Indeed, it wouldn’t be hard to imagine the hoo-ha if it was suggested that lung cancer victims or those with hardened arteries should be compelled to pay for their own treatment.

“Psychiatrists,” Ms Holt wrote, “point out that those who agitated vociferously or hysterically to prevent the decriminalisation of homosexual acts in private were often fighting their own sexual proclivities; we were to understand that such a theory held good however many children such campaigners had fathered. We need to recall this theory…”

She also chided “some newspaper commentators who have for years incited the public to harry and despise: homosexuals” and reminded them that theirs was a “line of argument which Adolf Hitler pursued and took to its ghastly conclusion in the death camps.”

Is anybody listening?


The Sunday Mirror carried another of its interminably boring Royal Gossip features of 14 Sept. It started with the old story about the Queen Mother wanting a drink. “She simply shouted down to the kitchen ‘Is there an old queen down there who can bring an old Queen up here a gin and tonic?’”

In a single moment Britain’s best-loved royal had shown how many of the family feel about the known homosexuals working in their service.

Shock! Horror! Scandal! A “Gay Mafia” operating at the palace! But the royal family don’t seem unduly perturbed even though these pernicious gays have “brought the Royal Family some of its darkest moments”. Like what? “There was the time for instance,” says The Sunday Mirror, “when nine members of the Royal yacht Britannia’s crew were jailed for forming a homosexual vice ring.” Now just a minute—what the Sunday Mirror perceives as a “vice ring” ordinary people simply call “affairs” or “loving relationships.” In the bizarre world of the tabloids, of course, homosexuals are incapable of such things.

The truth of the matter is that all the “gay scandals” that have been attached to the royal family have been entirely contrived by the tabloids. Their two favourite subjects, homosexuality and royalty, can’t often be linked, but when they can… well, batten down the hatches your Majesty.

I hold no brief for royalty, but my estimation would rise if once-just once—they would repay the loyalty of their gay staff in standing by them when they are being hounded and vilified by the press.


The whole confused cocktail of Aids, homophobia, sex education and Tory “morality” was given another outing in a ludicrously contradictory editorial in The Daily Telegraph (16 Sept). While the leader writer accepted that “education” was essential to stop the spread of the virus the good old Telegraph couldn’t just say “OK get on with it” – there had to be ‘controls’. “Councils which insist on instruction on homosexuality cannot be prevented; but they can be sensibly countered… If the medical message on Aids is as serious as many believe, a campaign to instruct, to counsel and to warn – in which, dare we add, a moral undertone, would not come amiss – is the first priority.”

This gibberish is what I think is commonly known as going round in ever-decreasing circles.


The anti-gay lobby is increasing its visibility, egged on by the political strength of its right-wing sympathisers. The Tory Government has created a perfect climate in this country for the anti-sex brigade to propagate its views. The papers are more than happy to assist in the puritan backlash, and here is a selection of quotes to illustrate just how widely the views of our potential oppressors are being disseminated:

“When it comes to aggressive promoting of homosexuality, it is wrong. There is a difference between encouraging and accepting homosexuality.”—Kenneth Baker, Education Secretary, SUNDAY TELEGRAPH (14 Sept).

“I do not, of course, have anything against homosexuals and lesbians … my concern is to prevent the corruption of children who are at an impressionable age.”—Harry Greenway MP, EALING LEADER (5 Sept).

“To date there has been no public discussion about the isolation or quarantine of Aids carriers neither about recriminalisation of homosexuality … Such measures may still prove effective.”—Dr Adrian Rogers, DAILY TELEGRAPH (10 Sept).

“The only valid variety of relationship is between a man and a woman. Any other relationship is abnormality, even if – like homosexuality – it is a very common abnormality.”—Coun. Tony Young, EALING GAZETTE (12 Sept).

“If homosexuals themselves are really unashamed of their abhorrent sexuality… they should be able to emerge from behind the gaudy ‘gay’ curtain, and openly and consistently declare and confess themselves to be no more nor less than what they truly are, namely, homosexuals”.– -Dr EJ Micham, SUNDAY TELEGRAPH (7 Sept).

“Man was too highly sexed for his reproductive needs. He was out of balance with nature, so nature was killing off the most highly sexed, the promiscuous. The homosexuals were being killed off first because they were more promiscuous and now the promiscuous heterosexuals were following.”—Dr Kevin Hume, DAILY TELEGRAPH (15 Sept).

“Few health officials go so far as to educate the public that homosexuality is not only biologically illogical but spiritually a sin.”—The PLAIN TRUTH (sic) (Oct).

“What next? Can we soon look forward to special TV epics for paedophiles, necrophiliacs, pyromaniacs, sado-masochists, satanists and sundry other freaks?”—WORCESTER EVENING NEWS commenting on the Channel 4 gay season (15 Aug).

“The 1967 Sexual Offences Act sought to remove the fear of blackmail from male homosexuals but did not confer approval on homosexual lifestyles. If Parliament could have foreseen Hackney Council’s Gay Pride Week things would have been very different. But how to put the genie back in the bottle? There’s the problem. – Newsletter of the Conservative Family Campaign.


George Gale was interviewed in London listings magazine City Limits (14 Sept). The interviewer found him rather an amiable chap rather than the expected ogre.

Gale insisted that when he wrote so vituperatively about gays he was really only getting at “the lunatic antics of some left-wing councils.” But George Gale writes regularly about homosexuals being responsible for Aids, and about our promiscuity (“Just as pedarests flit from boy to boy so do homosexuals flit from one to another.”). This doesn’t sound like an attack on left wing councils to me —it sounds like straightforward homophobia.

GAY TIMES 104, May 1987

Elton John didn’t cross my palm with silver three years ago when he got married, but all the same I made a prediction in this very column (Gay Times 68) saying: “When … the marriage ends, Elton is going to reap a nasty harvest from the sick publicity machine he is courting.” Well, lo and behold, the marriage is ended and right on cue the frighteningly vindictive SUN moves in for the kill. “Elton Ends Sham Marriage” was the front page on 27th March, while inside a two-page spread (“Marriage Built on Lies”) dragged up the dirt from a “dossier” that the brave hacks of Wapping had cobbled together “going back to the early seventies”. Even multi-millionaires are helpless in the face of Murdoch’s unstoppable spite machine.

The Star (27 March) was a little less vicious, but the tone of its story was in equally bad taste—and it managed to score a double. Not only did it repeatedly point out Elton’s gayness, but also suggested that his wife Renate was having a lesbian relationship, too. “Many said it was the perfect marriage of convenience,” said The Star. “HE preferred the company of men. SHE preferred the company of women.”

Meanwhile the same paper was carrying excerpts from Lee Everett Alkin’s book Kinds of Loving (March 24-27), describing her marriage to Kenny Everett. It chronicled a classic case of a gay man trying to run away from the truth of his sexuality, only to find it eventually catching up with him again. Kenny Everett was lucky to have chosen Lee as his partner for she was more accommodating than many women would have been in that situation, and even though their marriage is ended she obviously still loves her “Ev”.

And now we extend a warm welcome to Tina Turner as the latest addition to Murdoch’s ever-growing list of dragged-out public figures. It was the rock star’s turn for The Sun treatment on 31st March, when the front page was taken up with the headline: “Gay Loves of Tina Turner.”

Meanwhile that other diseased Murdoch organ, The News of the World (22 March) was tittle-tattling to its readers about Matthew Parris, TV presenter and ex Tory MP, being gay. This is no great news to regular readers of Gay Times, but seems to be of abiding interest to NoW readers. “I am an active homosexual and I do have a lover,” is the bald quote from Mr Parris, and three cheers for it. It seems Mr Parris has found the answer to the salacious exposés practised by the tabloids—honesty. When asked about the problems his gayness caused in parliament he says: “MPs told me I’d do well to keep quiet,” but to his credit he didn’t and “revealed that the work he was most proud of as an MP was his involvement with homosexual law reform and gay rights.” He also says: “Before I left parliament I raised the matter of homosexual equality with Mrs Thatcher, but she was” (surprise! surprise!) “non-committal”.

It would be very difficult for even the News of the World to make a ‘scandal’ out of such disarming truth-telling.


The Mail on Sunday (29 March) and Daily Express (31 March) both carried features on the subject of “curing” homosexuality. “Forget the dolls, it’s better to be macho” said the headline in The Express over an unconvincing piece of wishful thinking. I almost expected them to conclude that it would be better to be The Yorkshire Ripper than gay—at least he was ‘normal’ right?

The Mail on Sunday was more worrying with its “Masters and Johnson ‘cure for gays’ shock.” In it the “sex gurus” claim that they have perfected a “therapy” which has “cured” 70 percent of their homosexual clients who were “highly motivated” to become heterosexual. This is not new, of course. Masters and Johnson have always alleged that homosexuals who wanted it badly enough could become heterosexual—it’s the 70 percent claim that has set up the shock waves.

What the feature didn’t tell us was how long this “cure” was supposed to last. Most of us know “highly motivated” homosexuals who have tried their hardest to be straight. They’ve married and had children, but the truth can always run faster than lies and it has always caught up with them in the end.

Kenny Everett, Elton John, Tina Turner … the list of those who’ve tried to please other people by pretending to be something they weren’t is endless. The only result is misery and shattered lives—not only for the gay person but for those who have become caught in the sham—the wives, husbands and children. I understand why gays do it—pressure from peers, family and society in general is almost irresistible—but the result is almost always the same.


Psychiatrists have always moved with the tide. In the fifties when homosexuality was heavily persecuted they invented cruel “aversion therapies” and psychoanalysed people in the hope of “curing” them. Then when the climate changed in the sixties and seventies to a more tolerant stance, the behaviourists started saying that the best answer was to let gay people express themselves in the manner that was natural for them. Now we’ve gone back to an anti-sex era and the psychologists obligingly start the old “cure” business again. The problem is that Masters and Johnson are so influential in their field that their findings will be taken seriously all over the world.

Malevolent politicos will embrace them as “proof” that “now there is a cure” no-one need be homosexual any more, and anybody who persists in the practice (and therefore ‘wilfully spreads Aids’) will be persecuted unmercifully. In many ways these “gurus” could be much more dangerous to our safety than any of the crazy Tory back-benchers or their fanatical religious supporters. In the end it is their intolerance that will have to be cured—not homosexuality.


Hold onto your hats, I’ve got some astounding news! There has been a spate of sympathetic newspaper coverage of gay matters in the past month. Congratulations to The Deptford and Peckham Mercury for devoting two recent front pages to supporting gay people in the area. The local religious loonies, The Ichthus Christian Fellowship, had distributed a nasty anti-gay leaflet and the paper ran a strong front-page editorial condemning the church and calling for equal treatment for gay men and lesbians.

Then on 2nd April the front page was taken up with a statement from ten local clergymen who also supported the rights of gay people. “Bless ’em all” was the headline. I had a lump in my throat as I read it.

Then Today’s TV critic, Sally Vincent, laid into the insidiously dishonest Larry Grayson (1 April): “Real, larky, outrageous camp parodies, stale institutions and rigid gender role observances. I don’t care how effeminate a master of camp dares to be, as long as the heart of his humour is in the right place and there is vitality to his mockery …Grayson’s chosen stance is to shelter behind the acceptable face of good, old honest camp, in order to put across what I can only describe as a one-man homophobe’s cheer-leading stunt … Should we become addicted to the Grayson touch, we might as well bring back the Black and White Minstrel Show, so we can remember what funny, jumping-up-and-down, palm-shimmering, sub-humans black people used to be. Well, it would make a change from playing gays, wouldn’t it?”

Pretty sophisticated thinking for a tabloid journo.


The Independent constructively explored the Labour party’s confusion over gay rights (9 April) and then allowed Peter Campbell of the Conservative Group for Homosexual Equality space to put his case. If only more Tories were as sensible as Peter Campbell I’d rest easier!


The new London Daily News (blessed relief from the insufferable Evening Standard) published an article (10 April) by Bryan Derbyshire, editor of National Gay, explaining “why London’s gay community will not retreat despite Aids and increased violence.”

Does this indicate cracks in the until-now united anti-gay stance of the British pop press?


Last month it was the massively inflated Geoffrey Dickens who was acting the part of bogeyman for gay people with his pompous talk of “recriminalising” homosexuality. I found his performance strangely reassuring, for he came over not so much as a statesman, more of a rather objectionable nut case.

And so it is with Peter Bruinvels, the other inadequate rentagob Tory who is one of the prime movers behind the Conservative Family Campaign and their efforts to get gay sex outlawed again. Polly Toynbee did a wonderfully sharp hatchet job on this mindless jerk in The Guardian (30 March). “Who is this ogre, this populist Titan, self-styled leader the moral majority?” she asks. “He is a tiny chubby fellow with damp hands and pouchy cheeks that have earned him the soubriquet ‘The Talking Hamster’. When he gets up in the House to speak, Labour back-benchers shout ‘Stand up!’ as he is if shortest MP … He is affable, chattery and as dim a one-watt bulb. He runs away at the mouth, words spilling out in a pool of contradictory nonsense … If he is the worst the ‘moral majoritarians’ can come up with, there is little to fear.”

The explanation for Mr Bruinvels’ rather sad attention-seeking is the fact that his majority at last election was only 933. If the voters of Leicester East have any sense they’ll ditch the squirt at the first opportunity and get themselves a real politician.


It seems that liberalism and tolerance are dirty words these days. Anyone espousing anything but the authoritarian philosophy of the Tories is seen as a “threat to society”. The gay couple in EastEnders were the final straw for those who favour only one kind sex for everyone (within marriage and preferably the missionary position with the lights off.)

Mary Kenny in The Daily Mail (9 April) is a classic example of this tight-arsed new morality which seeks to impose old-time religion on an unwilling population. Attacking EastEnders (as her part in the propaganda campaign to get television brought under the control of the Obscene Publications Act) she wrote of the programme: “Recently an underage homosexual man… was bemoaning the fact that he had to wait until his 21st birthday to have anal intercourse legally.” I saw the scene she was referring to and nobody mentioned anal intercourse or sodomy – but truth is not the issue with Ms Kenny when there is “moral” legislation to get through.

Kenny says that television is imposing a morality of “health-conscious secular materialism”. What she’d prefer, of course, is the “morality” of the religious fanatic – a morality that refuses to face up to life as it is and which is wickedly repressive and dictatorial.

What her article demonstrates most clearly, though, is that if the legislation gets through (and there is every likelihood if parliamentary time can be found for it), the mention of homosexuality on television in anything but critical terms will be out of the question.

However, despite the Whitehouse/Kenny axis, The Times (11 April) was able to report a Mori poll which indicated that “tolerance of homosexuality” had risen from 45 per cent in January to 50 per cent in February.


The Church of England certainly has no problem in producing gasbags. This was amply demonstrated by the Archbishop of Canterbury (Times 30 March) when he repeated his assertion that homosexuals are “handicapped” and blathered on interminably about “erotic homosexual genital processes”. This was after he had admitted: “I have seen homosexual couples in a stable relationship and actually providing in terms of simple human generosity, hospitality, artistic achievement and flair, what I can’t gainsay as human good.” Perhaps it would be better for the Archbishop to keep his peace until he knew what he really wanted to say.

And the same goes for the Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Rev John Baker, who was reported in The Independent (2 April) as “condemning” gay sex. “He suggests that one can properly deduce a morality from the design of the world, which God intended. Thus, the homosexually inclined could find physical expression of their feelings ‘only in ways for which our nature is intended.’ They should not indulge in what the Bishop calls “pseudo-intercourse”, nor in actions that lead up to it …”

We know that God moves in mysterious ways, but do his representatives have to speak in similar fashion? Reassuring to know, though, that such men as these make up the very foundations of our society.

What you might call Pillocks of the Establishment


Last month’s Aids statistics prompted one of THE SUN’s filthier editorials (11 April): “They [people with Aids] have only themselves to blame for their terrible plight. But now gay campaigners are trying to turn the argument the other way round and make the whole community bear some of the guilt. This is nonsense. The term Gay Plague upsets some people but that, effectively, is exactly what it is.”

And so it goes on, citing the “innocent victims” and the “guilty” ones. It ends with a “stark message to every gay in the land”: “Homosexual intercourse spreads a killer disease. Lay off before it is too late.”

There is no mention in The Sun of the dramatic evidence that gay men have changed their sexual habits in a big way. There is no acknowledgment of the fact that the majority of Aids cases that are showing themselves now were contracted years ago before anyone even knew that HIV existed. The Sun isn’t interested in this, its only concern is scapegoating and persecution.

So, here’s a “stark message” to The Sun: why don’t you idiots learn some facts before you start shooting your mouths off?

GAY TIMES 232, January 1998

These are the stark figures: 16,000 people become HIV-positive every day. Thirty million people have HIV infection or Aids. Some 2.3 million people will die from the infection this year — a 50 per cent increase on last year.

With these horrific statistics, the promoters of World Aids Day tried once again to get HIV back on top of the public health agenda. They had little success. The articles that appeared in the serious newspapers had the feeling of duty about them, rather than any serious sense of alarm at what is happening.

The tabloids gave the story a couple of paragraphs each — and even then, some of those were condemnatory. Unless some celebrity succumbs in the meantime, that’s probably all we’ll hear about it until next December.

Television coverage was even more derisory. In The Observer, Robert McKie complained that, on the day the United Nations announced the statistics that opened this column, ITN chose to lead its bulletin with Earl Spencer’s divorce proceedings.

“We are plunging into a global epidemic,” wrote McKie, “and clearly we are desperate to raise awareness about HIV. So ITN gave us details of Earl Spencer’s preposterous wealth, his infidelities and a great deal of soap opera fluff. Now, the dumbing down of TV news is not a new problem. But to ignore one of the greatest science stories of the century seems laughably perverse.”

The London Evening Standard managed to give the story a local spin by quoting from a report from the Health of Londoners Project, which looks at the state of public health in London. This report suggests that “one third of all homosexual men in the country live in the inner city” and, as a result, 42 per cent of Britain’s HIV cases are now concentrated in inner London, where Aids is the leading cause of death for all men between 18 and 54— 3,780 mortalities by the end of 1996.

But the situation could have been worse. As The Guardian pointed out: “Fundamentalists who opposed Britain’s liberal approach — safe sex campaigns and free needle exchanges for drug users — should look at how many more people died elsewhere. America, where needle exchanges were banned, has had far higher mortality rates. Neither France nor Spain achieved the same high profile safe sex campaigns: proportionately, France has had three times as many Aids cases as Britain and Spain seven times as many.”

It is clear, then, that forthright, no-nonsense safer sex campaigns save lives. So why do we still have journalistic primitives like Richard Littlejohn in The Daily Mail opposing them? On December 4th he wrote: “A reader sent me a copy of a leaflet issued by Coventry and Warwickshire HIV network. It is entitled Suck it and ? — Information about Oral Sex for Gay and Bisexual Men… The text is beyond obscene. You don’t want to know, trust me. Yet this is financed by tax-payers and presented in a crazy-guy kinda way. There are all kinds of fun tips and advice, yet never the slightest suggestion that this might not be a way to behave in the first place. Mustn’t be judgmental.”

He makes his usual claim that he doesn’t care what consenting adults do “provided I don’t have to watch, participate or pay for it” but then goes on to say, “It is the triumphalism I abhor. And the idea that people who knowingly indulge in dangerous and unhealthy practices are some kind of heroes, to be plied with public funds and protected from the inevitable consequences of their own perversion.”

He ends with a cheap crack about being able to put anything into your mouth these days as long as it isn’t a cigarette.

Daily Mail readers are constantly fed this idea, that they are the persecuted minority, that it is their hard-earned cash that goes to pay for all this perversion and loose-living. The message that is constantly hammered home is that the middle-classes are under relentless attack from the dregs of society — homosexuals, single mothers, drug addicts, paedophiles and endless foreign immigrants. How come honest, normal folk don’t get all the privileges that these poofs and gypsies and pregnant teenagers get? The Government, the Mail asserts, is clearly on the side of these undesirable minorities. But I would remind Paul Dacre, editor of The Daily Mail, of something written by the American thinker Wendell Phillips in the last century: “Governments exist to protect the rights of minorities. The loved and the rich need no protection — they have many friends and few enemies.”

However, those of a conservative frame of mind are by nature selfish. They are not enthusiastic about granting minority rights because they fear that, in doing so, something will be taken away from them. Such conservatives are naturally drawn to The Daily Telegraph (which has resumed its habit of putting the word gay into quotation marks). The Telegraph’s letters column has also recently become a platform for virulent anti-homosexual sentiment.

A frequent correspondent is Dr Adrian Rogers, the celebrated political failure. His letters are almost always given lead status. On November 19th, his familiar message was encapsulated in the pithy headline “Homosexual activity is always wrong”. Then, next day, came a missive from Mr John Cowlishaw, headed “The power of rich homosexuals”.

But best of all was the letter from Mrs Valerie Riches, of Family and Youth Concern, who was making the point that homosexuals had donated £2 million to President Clinton’s election campaign fund, and therefore, “In view of the recent revelations about the £1 million received by the Labour Party from Bernie Ecclestone before the general election, a further issue is raised. Mr Blair has given public support for the homosexual rights movement in this country and is set to reduce the age of consent to 16 on the ground of equality. Is it fair to ask: what did the Labour Party receive from homosexual groups or eminent supporters before the general election and, if any, what strings were attached?”

I immediately wrote to the editor of The Telegraph to confess that I had donated £10 to the Labour Party’s election fund on the understanding that in return I would receive full equality with every other citizen in this country. My demands have yet to be satisfied, but I will fully understand if Mr Blair is embarrassed by my generosity and wishes to return my tenner. I would not wish him to suffer any further conflict with the Parliamentary Standards Committee. My letter was not, for some reason, selected for publication.

Now let us visit The Express and find out what its contribution to the great gay debate has been. “Only 1 in 100 men says that he is gay” the paper announced on December 1st. It was quoting research carried out by the Office of National Statistics, which surveyed 2,000 people. “Only one per cent of men admitted to practising exclusively homosexual sex,” The Express crooned. “Another one per cent say they have had sex with both men and women. Ninety two per cent said they had only ever had sex with women.”

The paper was also pleased to reassure its readers that “Last year an attempt by the ONS to count the number of stable gay couples for the Government’s General Household Survey found fewer than 20 among 9,000 households. Their number was left out of the survey as ‘statistically insignificant’.”

This, of course, gave The Express the opportunity to whinge about the way society had been misled by “the gay lobby” and its persistent claim that one in ten is gay. It also dragged in the money being spent on Aids prevention. “Critics have said that spending much of the £52.3 million government grant on controversial tactics like handing out condoms in gay haunts tends to encourage homosexual behaviour.”

Also in for the kill came the Conservative Family Campaign (which had probably planted the story in the first place), whose spokesperson, Hugh McKinney, said: “These findings show yet again the misinformation that is used to allow pernicious propaganda to spread through society.”

Ah yes, pernicious propaganda. Mr McKinney knows all about that, because in the very next sentence he says: “American figures show that the life expectancy of a practising male homosexual is less than 40 — around half that of a heterosexual man.” (The source for this statistic is a right-wing American fundamentalist group, so, of course, it must be true).

Not to be left out of the statistical jamboree, The Daily Mail quoted Dr Jacqueline Scott, a social researcher at Cambridge University, who claims to have discovered through her research that “seven out of ten men and six out of ten women deplore and condemn homosexual behaviour.”

Well, excuse me, Dr Scott, but only days before, in The Independent on Sunday, I had read that the Health Education Authority had conducted yet another survey which revealed that “the percentage of people who believe that sexual relations between men are wrong has fallen by more than a third during the last ten years. In 1987, 74 per cent of people thought that sex between men was ‘always or mostly wrong’. This month the figure has fallen to 44 per cent in the survey of 1,442 people.”

Who is telling us the truth, and who is trying to mislead us? Well, you pays your money and you takes your choice. But the principle remains that however many gay people there are in this country, even if it is only half a dozen (and their 250,000 apparently straight supporters who go to Pride), they shouldn’t be treated as second-class citizens.

***

Now let’s have some good news. According to The Independent on Sunday (November 30th), the boycott of the Disney Corporation, called by the Southern Baptist Convention in the USA, has failed abysmally. The boycott was ordered last year after the Disney Corporation announced that it would treat its gay workers fairly and equally. The Barmy Baptists demanded that their 15 million members cease forthwith to use or purchase any Disney product.

Well, since then the value of. Disney’s shares has risen by 10 per cent, and their profits by even more. Seems those pious Americans much prefer Goofy to God.

Meanwhile, The Daily Telegraph was alarmed to report that “Churches may be forced to marry homosexual couples” (all 20 of them) if the European Convention on Human Rights is incorporated into British law. Baroness Young said provisions covering ‘public authorities’, such as anti-discrimination laws, could include churches and other religious organisations.

She added that adoption agencies linked to churches might be unable to prevent children being placed with homosexual couples. “Lady Young urged peers to exempt the Church of England from the Human Rights Bill, which incorporates the Convention into British law,” the paper reported.

Baroness Young, a major ‘sponsor’ of Family and Youth Concern, has obviously been primed by the right-wing on this one. And Stonewall, the lesbian and gay lobbying group, really needs to get a response on the go.

Finally, Michael Portillo is reported as saying that he thinks the time is coming when it will be perfectly possible for Britain to have a gay Prime Minister. I think he probably means an out gay Prime Minister, because, of course, we’ve already had several closet cases. According to The Daily Telegraph, Pitt the Younger, Disraeli, Balfour and Lord Roseberry were all that way inclined to some extent. There have been others, who cannot yet be named because (a) there isn’t enough evidence or (b) they are still alive, and prefer to keep their closet intact.

Given Mr Portillo’s well-known ambitions, the question on everybody’s lips is: who does he have in mind?