Victory for gay rights resolution

A newspaper clipping noting the success of gay campaigners, including Charlie Beaton, in getting Labour to pass an equality resolution

Transcription: Victory for gay rights resolution LESBIANS and gay men won a significant victory at Bournemouth following on from their success at TUC congress last month. They were delighted with the victory, which they said would not have even been on the cards five years ago. Conference decided, against the advice of the national executive, to pledge the party to reduce the legal age of consent for homosexuals from 21 to 16. The card vote – 3,395,000 million on favour and 2,805,000 against – called on the party to campaign for lesbian and gay rights, prohibit discrimination in child custody cases; stop discrimination and unfair dismissal on grounds in any way connected with sexuality or lifestyle and adopt and enforce equal opportunities in relation to lesbians and gay men as done in Islington, Hackney, GLC, Manchester, Brent and Nottingham. It also called for an end to discrimination against single people and lesbians and gay men in housing policies and for financial support for special lesbian and gay telephone lines, centres and youth groups. At the TUC in September a resolution put forward by the National Association of Probation Officers was carried on a show of hands. It called for legislation to prevent discrimination; to include lesbians and gay men in all negotiated equal opportunities clause and agreements and to examine terms and conditions of employment to ensure that no discrimination exists on grounds of sexual orientation. Sarah Roelofs, of Hornsey and Wood Green, spoke of “hetrosexism” (sic) within the movement of those who believed that only one sexuality, ie heterosexuality, was normal. “A Labour MP said to me that we should be building the new Jerusalem and not Sodom and Gomorrah. I want no part in your Jerusalem unless it includes us,” she said. SHe said that when she had worked at the BBC she had tried to hide the fact that she was a lesbian and it had made her ill. She spoke of the support for lesbian and gay men from friends in the mining communities who had forged links during the year long miners’ strike. Charlie Beaton, Bristol South, said the issue had never been debated before, despite the fact that it affected one in 10 people. He spoke of his “internal terror” of standing at the rostrum as a gay. He said the disease Aids compounded the fear of attacks and he declared that gay men were victims, not perpetrators of “this terrible disease.” Hundreds of thousands of lesbians and gay men were just waiting for Labour to take the lead, he added. Jo Richardson, for the NEC, said the executive welcomed the new campaign on gay rights and the local authority equal opportunity commitment, and the call for Labour to stop the police seeking to entrap gays and lesbians in “crimes without victims.” But the NEC wanted the motion remitted to look at the considerable legal difficulties about moving the age of consent to 16 years.

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