Gay News Issue 28, July 1973.
Scots Gays To “Invade” London
SCOTLAND Scottish Minorities Group have designated November 28 as Law Reform Day’ and have set in motion plans for a new meeting at: Westminster that day.. But in order to get maximum impact on a normally apathetic British public SMG is organising a mass mailing for November 6. All SeotsMPs and: Peers will receive: a personal copy of the Sexual .Offences (Scotland) Bill, and statements of support from the political parties the churches, NUS will also be declared The general gay community is bemg asked to organise wnultaneous gay discos in all the Scottish Cities for 6 Nov ember and this is designed for publicity and celebration
The date has been fixed well in advance so that English Groups can do their own bit by ways of solidarity for their Scots some people. get pissed off with the very idea of ”reform”
— but it is earnestly hoped that things will be properly mobilised in November NLJS is debating progress with Gay Rights at Margate around 24 November. Let’s fly the flag! Now.
Ian Dunn (SMG)
Scots Gay Law Reform
There is no doubt that the Law Reform Bill, drafted and promoted by the Scottish Minorities Group, has caused widespread controversy. The controversy stems from the fact that both Campaign for Homosexual Equality and the Sexual Law Reform Society (Secretary: Antony Grey) have opted for “across-the-board” sexual reform. Details of their campaigns and thinking will not be available until to wards the end of this year. On the other hand, SMG has clearly articulated its reform proposals to the extent that the final draft of their Biil is shortly to be published. The following article by Councillor Ian Christie explains the background to the Bill, and why the Scottish homosexual organ/sat/on has opted for a gradualist approach.

Ian Dunn (Edinburgh SMG)

THE Bill which the SMG is putting forward is unique in several legal aspects, but the most significant change is a social one in that for the first time in British history a Gay organisation has put forward its own proposals for law reform and has taken the initiative of bringing together Peers and MPs in order to guide a bill on to the Statute Book.
In the past, homosexual law reform has been left to “do-gooders”, and homosexuals have tended to sit on their backsides and leave it to others to look after their interests. Now we are acting on our own behalf and this movement must be united as a means of developing a more rational attitude towards homosexuality both among gay and non-gay alike.
In this campaign, the Scottish Minorities Group is fighting to right what we believe is a grave social injustice, but we are fighting for our rights by putting forward proposals which will command public acceptance. We have been accused by some gay liberationists—particularly south of the Border—of selling the pass over the age of consent, and we have been told that we ought to have gone for an age of “consent” of 16 rather than 18. But we have had to decide whether to fight for improvements which take Scotland miles ahead of England, or to go ahead and make proposals that haven’t a snowball’s chance in hell of passing through the present Parliament. We view our Bill as the first stage in a struggle, with the next stage the preparation of a “British” Bill (with a Scottish Clause) which will bring down the overall age of consent to 16 and give complete equality with heterosexuals -
We have adopted a strategy in which we are allying ourselves with many heterosexual persons of good will and liberal intent. We feel that this cross-fertilisation of views is the best way to produce a lasting transformation of social attitudes. In Scotland, the pressure of a condemnatory public opinion has always been a much more serious matter for homosexuals than the harrying of the law. The law of evidence which prevails in Scotland has always prevented the witch-hunts which happened in England and Wales before 1967. The Labouchere amendment never had much force in Scotland. Nevertheless the Scots homosexual in the past was subject to all kinds of inhibitions and taboos, stemming from the Scottish Churches’ traditional obsession with Mosaic Law. Any kind of homosexual relationship, particularly a love relationship, was regarded as one of the most unforgivable of sins. Scottish people were also very unsympathetic to any kind of adoption by men of a feminine role. In the minds of
Ian Christiemany Scots, homosexuality was linked with effeminacy, and this apparent threat to Scottish virility was scornfully rejected. Parents became anxious about any signs of homosexuality in their children, considering that they had somehow failed in their duty if their children became gay. This guilt they all too often passed on to their children. By enlisting the support of heterosexuals for our 5MG Aims, we are seeking to change, traditional heterosexual attitudes towards homosexuality. We are seeking, if you like, to develop an understanding, tolerant attitude among the four hundred thousand parents who will be the fathers and mothers of the next generation of homosexual children.
Any chance to bring about such a change in social attitudes in Scotland largely depends on a ‘commitment by the homosexual community itself to fight for our Bill. We have got to involve ourselves actively, all 20,000 of us in Edinburgh, all 200,000 of us throughout Scotland. Already we have had deputations to 5 of our local MPs, and we have had a most sympathetic response. These small beginnings are leading to some quite big results. The Lord Advocate, who is the Conservative MP for Edinburgh Pentlands, has issued a departmental letter stating that there will be no prosecutions in Scotland for sexual acts between consenting adults in private, and assuring homosexuals of complete police support in the event of blackmail or robbery.
In our campaign we will have to try and lobby every MP and every Peer in Scotland. But if we are seeking to make a radical change in public opinion, a lot more than parliamentary lobbying will be needed. We have got to lobby the Churches, the students’ organisations, the University staffs, the Trades Unions and all the political parties. We also have to use to the full the media of the Press and television, Many more teach-ins and public debates will be needed.
We may fail in our first efforts to get our Bill on to the Statute Book, but in fighting we prepare ourselves for the next effort. Indeed we are probably preparing the ground for a campaign to launch a much more far-reaching British Sexual Law Reform Bill. We are quite aware of the difficulties that lie ahead, but we are asking confidently for public support for our Bill to remove much of the discrimination against the largest minority. We must all stand up and be counted. In so doing, we can liberate ourselves from past fears and inhibitions: but we will only reach full maturity if we go on to realise that we ourselves, being of a minority, have a responsibility to champion the rights of all persecuted minorities throughout the world.
Ian Christie