An attempt to start a club for homosexuals at Strathclyde University has been stopped. Father Columba Ryan, the university’s Roman Catholic chaplain, had been approached by a student asking if his premises at The Ark, a social club in Glasgow used for various university meetings, could be obtained for meetings.
He first gave consent and a poster was placed in the university union advertising for members was later ripped down by other students.
Father Ryan said last night that he had had second thoughts on the matter, and had decided to withhold The Ark premises form the organised meeting for three reasons:promotion of an organised group of homosexuals may be in contravention of the law, the notice has outraged a number of students, he had learned of the existence of a pressure group, active in other universities, to promote dubious homosexual associations. This group uses the term "Gay Life," words incorporated in the union poster. I have no intention of being used as a pawn by any other such group."
[The text of this letter dated 20 Jan 1971 was sent with SMG News No 2 March, 1971 to all members]
Sir ,— The abortive attempt to hold an open meeting to discuss a club for homosexuals in the University of Strathclyde requires a comment since your report mentions the "existence of a pressure group." This may readily and mistakenly be interpreted as referring to the Scottish Minorities Group.
The group does indeed exist to promote homosexual law reform in Scotland, to provide care and counseling when required by those homosexuals who have suffered from the unwarranted disapproval of an insensitive society but, above all else, to prevent an honest picture of what homosexuality means.
Once the majority of people are convinced that the homosexual is what he is, not because of some kink or perversity of his or her won choosing but simply and naturally ( and I stress the term "naturally") from the order of things, it becomes logical for them to accept the homosexual’s right of free association, which is guaranteed to all subjects of the realm.
Whether there is oppression there will sooner of later be explosive reaction. The law and the public have for too long leaned heavily on the homosexual. It is not to be wondered at, then, of in these days of violent protest some elements in all minorities choose the road of "pressure."
The Scottish Minorities Group s no such revolutionary pressure group. It is an association of responsible homosexual and heterosexual men and women who are concerned to educate public opinion to recognise the existence of this substantial minority and to guarantee their constitutional right to acceptance and to freedom of expression within society.
That there is promiscuity among heterosexuals would be absurd to deny. It would be equally absurd to say that this is the rule. So it is with homosexuals. In both it is to be deplored. A stable society results form stable relationships.
The group words to provide a framework of acceptance and — let’s not be afraid to use the word — respectability within which the homosexual will feel free to express himself naturally and with the freedom to form stable and satisfactory relationships on a par with his heterosexual friends and neighbours.
Bruce Briggs, Secretary, Scottish Minorities Group, 9 Princess Gardens, Glasgow, W.2.
May 24, 1971 Letter from Bruce Briggs, Secretary, Scottish Minorities Group, 214 Clyde Street, Glasgow, C.1.
He takes exception to one point of Brian Barr’s otherwise acceptable article on Centrepoint Soho: "drug pushers, strip club agents, and homosexuals" as being the temptations awaiting the young Scot arriving in London.
As an official of the Scottish Minorities Group …aim is ensuring that the social disadvantages of being known as homosexual are removed he resents the implication that homosexuality can be equated with drug pushing and strip club touting.
PUBLICITY letter in response to Glasgow Herald (1971 May 24 6f) article "Helping young Scots homeless in London" about Centrepoint Soho, by Brian Barr, argues that “SMG forms a protection for many desperately lonely homosexual men & women who leave the intolerant atmosphere of the homeland for a supposedly more liberal metropolis and fill victims to the initial blandishments of the prostitute in public places. At least the prostitute seems willing to offer them an acceptance which their native society denied them.”
Reports that large numbers of homosexuals were using the Festival Club in Edinburgh as a meeting place and causing embarrassment to visitors were described as "grossly exaggerated" yesterday in a statement issued after a meeting of the Festival Club committee.
A statement was issued by the Scottish Minorities Group claimed that more than half the number of people present at the club on any one evening were homosexuals or those who were tolerant towards them.
The chairman of the Festival Club committee, refused to comment on this claim.
Scottish Minorities Group, formed to promote the welfare and interests of homosexuals in Scotland, are to join the Scottish Council for Civil Liberties to seek law reform.
At its AGM in Glasgow on Saturday, a resolution was passed seeking legislation for the repeal of the 1885 Criminal Law Amendment Act. … Scotland is now one of the very few countries left in Europe where a private homosexual act is classified as criminal activity.
Membership of the group increased sevenfold to 300 during 1971, says their annual report. Groups have been established in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee, Aberdeen, St. Andrews, and Strathclyde University.
The report adds that they now need a centre of their own. Sounding with various people in Edinburgh — police, councilors, and chaplains — had produced "a favourable response."