September 4th, 2013
Southern Comfort Conference: Atlanta, GA. The largest and most famous transgender social, educational and entertainment conference in the country takes place every year in Atlanta, Georgia. For the past 23 years, it has provided the transgender community with a place to meet and discuss issues directly relevant to the community, and to just have some fun and catch up on friendships along the way. This year’s theme is “Blazing New Trails,” and includes a special program in cooperation with Out and Equal to help attendees deal with workplace-related issues and help in finding employment opportunities. The conference also includes a “Big Brother/Big Sister” program which pairs newbies with seasoned transgender advisors to help them navigate the conference, including everything from what to wear to dealing with the fear of simply leaving their hotel rooms. The five-day conference begins today at the Crowne Plaza Hotel/Atlanta Perimeter at Ravinia.
Other Events This Weekend: Pride Night at Kings Island, Cincinnati, OH (Friday Night Only); Womenfest, Key West, FL; Run to the Beat, London, UK; London to Brighton Cycle for Clarence Higgins Trust, London/Brighton, UK; Newfest Film Festival, New York, NY; Queenstown Gay Ski Week, Queenstown, NZ; Bears on Ice, Reykjavic, Iceland; North Louisiana Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Shreveport, LA; International Bears Week, Sitges, Spain.
TODAY IN HISTORY:
Wolfenden Report Recommends Homosexuality “Should Not Be A Crime”: 1957. Home Secretary David Maxwell-Fyfe in 1954 appointed a special fifteen-member committee to examine laws in Britain which criminalized homosexuality and prostitution. The committee came about after the arrest of several well-known men that year for homosexuality, including Lord Montagu (see Oct 20) and Peter Wildeblood (see May 19). Those arrests and trials provoked a national debate over Britain’s “gross indecency” law, which criminalized homosexual behavior between men. (Lesbian relations had never been made illegal.) The committee, chaired by Lord John Wolfenden of Reading University, included theologians, psychiatrists, educators, judges, lawyers, and several other leading figures. The Wolfenden committee, as it became known, was tasked with reviewing the medical, mental health, legal, and moral aspects of homosexuality and prostitution, and to report on their findings and recommendations for legal changes.
On of the chief difficulties the committee ran into was finding gay men who were willing to provide testimony. After all, the committee was, in effect, asking people to incriminate themselves for a crime under the same statute that had famously sent Oscar Wilde to prison for two years at hard labor (see May 25). One of those giving testimony was Peter Wildeblood, who had written one book about his arrest, trial, conviction, the appalling conditions of his imprisonment, and his experience of being spat upon by a “respectable looking, middle-aged, tweedy” woman while out the street. His second book included twelve essays describing various gay people he had come in contact with. Both books, along with his testimony and that of two others, helped to inform the Wolfenden’s report.
And so did a study conducted by a Wolfenden member, Dr. Desmond Curran of the Department of Psychiatry at St. George’s Hospital in London. That study, published in the British Medical Journal (see Apr 6), examined one hundred gay men who were under evaluation and treatment for homosexuality. Curran found that none of them could muster anything more than a “slight alteration” toward heterosexuality — and almost all of those who achieved that minimal accomplishment were classified as bisexual to begin with. Curran also found no evidence that homosexuality was an impairment, but was instead “compatible with subjective well-being and objective efficiency … both practising and non-practising homosexuals were on the whole successful and valuable members of society.”
After three long years, the committee finally published its recommendations the 155-page “Report on Homosexual Offences and Prostitution.” Known popularly as the Wolfenden Report, its first run of 5,000 copies sold out within hours of publication. The report recommended wholesale revisions to English and Welsh law with regard to age of consent, penalties for sexual assault, the statute of limitations, and, most critically, on the criminalization of homosexuality itself: that “homosexual behaviour between consenting adults in private should no longer be a criminal offence… The law’s function is to preserve public order and decency, to protect the citizen from what is offensive or injurious, and to provide sufficient safeguards against exploitation and corruption of others… It is not, in our view, the function of the law to intervene in the private life of citizens, or to seek to enforce any particular pattern of behaviour.”
The Report’s recommendations enjoyed wide support, including from the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Goeffrey Fisher, who also served on the committee. The Times of London approved the report, as did the Star, which pointed out that “The present laws are out of date and often cruel in their application.” The Manchester Guardian called the Report “A fine piece of work, interleaving sympathy and sternness.” The Daily Mirror also chimed in: “Now Whitewash. No Prudery. And No Hypocrisy,” went the headline. “What they say may shock the sort of people who shut their eyes to the unpleasant facts of life. But it is the truth.” The Economist urged Parliament to take up the Report’s recommendations: “If the Government cannot pluck up courage to bring in legislation of its own (and it ought to), Parliament should at least be given every facility for a free vote on a private member’s bill.”
Other papers weren’t so supportive. The Daily Express asked, “Why did the Government ever sponsor this cumbersome nonsense,” while the Daily Mail called the recommendations “full of danger.” Its editorial warned, “If the law were to tolerate homosexual acts a great barrier against depravity would be swept aside.”
The Government ended up rejecting the Wolfenden Committee’s recommendations, and it would be another decade before Parliament would take up the task of decriminalizing sex between men (see Jul 28).
If you know of something that belongs on the agenda, please send it here. Don’t forget to include the basics: who, what, when, where, and URL (if available).
And feel free to consider this your open thread for the day. What’s happening in your world?
In this original BTB Investigation, we unveil the tragic story of Kirk Murphy, a four-year-old boy who was treated for “cross-gender disturbance” in 1970 by a young grad student by the name of George Rekers. This story is a stark reminder that there are severe and damaging consequences when therapists try to ensure that boys will be boys.
When we first reported on three American anti-gay activists traveling to Kampala for a three-day conference, we had no idea that it would be the first report of a long string of events leading to a proposal to institute the death penalty for LGBT people. But that is exactly what happened. In this report, we review our collection of more than 500 posts to tell the story of one nation’s embrace of hatred toward gay people. This report will be updated continuously as events continue to unfold. Check here for the latest updates.
In 2005, the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote that “[Paul] Cameron’s ‘science’ echoes Nazi Germany.” What the SPLC didn”t know was Cameron doesn’t just “echo” Nazi Germany. He quoted extensively from one of the Final Solution’s architects. This puts his fascination with quarantines, mandatory tattoos, and extermination being a “plausible idea” in a whole new and deeply disturbing light.
On February 10, I attended an all-day “Love Won Out” ex-gay conference in Phoenix, put on by Focus on the Family and Exodus International. In this series of reports, I talk about what I learned there: the people who go to these conferences, the things that they hear, and what this all means for them, their families and for the rest of us.
Prologue: Why I Went To “Love Won Out”
Part 1: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Part 2: Parents Struggle With “No Exceptions”
Part 3: A Whole New Dialect
Part 4: It Depends On How The Meaning of the Word "Change" Changes
Part 5: A Candid Explanation For "Change"
Using the same research methods employed by most anti-gay political pressure groups, we examine the statistics and the case studies that dispel many of the myths about heterosexuality. Download your copy today!
And don‘t miss our companion report, How To Write An Anti-Gay Tract In Fifteen Easy Steps.
Anti-gay activists often charge that gay men and women pose a threat to children. In this report, we explore the supposed connection between homosexuality and child sexual abuse, the conclusions reached by the most knowledgeable professionals in the field, and how anti-gay activists continue to ignore their findings. This has tremendous consequences, not just for gay men and women, but more importantly for the safety of all our children.
Anti-gay activists often cite the “Dutch Study” to claim that gay unions last only about 1½ years and that the these men have an average of eight additional partners per year outside of their steady relationship. In this report, we will take you step by step into the study to see whether the claims are true.
Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council submitted an Amicus Brief to the Maryland Court of Appeals as that court prepared to consider the issue of gay marriage. We examine just one small section of that brief to reveal the junk science and fraudulent claims of the Family “Research” Council.
The FBI’s annual Hate Crime Statistics aren’t as complete as they ought to be, and their report for 2004 was no exception. In fact, their most recent report has quite a few glaring holes. Holes big enough for Daniel Fetty to fall through.