MR Fred Edwards, Strathclyde's director of social work, was yesterday both defended and criticised for accepting an invitation to open the new offices of the Scottish Minorities Group. He is to perform the opening ceremony of the newly modernised premises at 534 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow on Thursday .
Councillor Jenny Browning, Conservative spokesman on social work in the regional council, said: "I think on balance Mr. Edwards probably should not have accepted the invitation as it might jeopardise the image the social work department is trying to build up for helping people of all classes and in all kinds of society.
Councillor Geoffrey Shaw [photograph], the regional convenor, said, however: "I think it is quit appropriate that the director of social work should be opening the Scottish Minorities Group office."
Councillor Albert Long, chairman of the Strathclyde social work committee, said: "I think social work cannot draw any demarcation lines. We are involved with people whatever identity they have in the eyes of society, and by being involved we can hope to improve on some of the difficulties they have to face up to."
Mr Fred Edwards said later: "I do not see it as at all inconsistent with the professional and caring role in which I am employed. I think it would be very hurtful to the Scottish Minorities Group — who have received a lot of hurt — if I had declined the invitation."
The new premises, intended as a meeting place for the city's homosexual men and women, will have a coffee and snack bar, an information and reception area, and switchboard facilities for the Glasgow gay Advisory Service.
Mr. Edward Taylor, Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland, reiterated his call for the reintroduction of capital and corporal punishment at the weekend and at the same time criticised Government funding of a new club for homosexuals in Glasgow.
Speaking at a Conservative rally in Ayr Mr. Taylor said that vandalism had now become a major threat to employment as well as normal living ... crime has soared ... stronger deterrents ... he was convinced that capital and corporal punishment saved lives. ...
"The public debate on the new organisation concerned with helping people sexually attracted to children evolves on whether or not they were receiving a Government grant. In my view it should have been on whether they should all have been locked up.
"The Prime Minister should make it clear when he opens the new Police Federation offices in Glasgow on Friday whether he thinks it was sensible to cut police overtime and cut home help services because of the economic situation while at the same time Government cash has apparently been made available to help build a new club for homosexuals in Glasgow.
The club Mr. Taylor referred to is being opened by the Scottish Minorities group in Sauchiehall Street next week. The refurbishment of the premises was aided under the Government job creation programme.
Letter from Paul Gale, Secretary, Glasgow Scottish Minorities Group, 534 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow.
You report Mr. Edward Taylor, MP, as saying that the Government at a time of cuts in services because of the economic situation has apparently made cash available to help build a new club for homosexuals in Glasgow.
May I say that the Scottish Minorities Group's new Glasgow premises will not be a "club" for homosexuals. They will comprise a meeting place for those who seek information and advice on homosexuality, as well as providing facilities for the Glasgow Gay Advisory Service.
Secondly, no Government cash has been made available. The cost of the premises and fixtures has been paid by the financial support of our members. Help has been received in the renovation work by the provision of free labour as part of the community industries scheme to alleviate unemployment. This does not amount to the Government funding the premises, as stated by Mr. Taylor.
In the same report Mr. Taylor criticised paedophilia. Homosexuals are ordinary law-abiding individuals with no greater inclination to paedophilia than hetrosexuals [sic].
Minority groups must be more sensitive to the feelings of people in wider society, Mr. Fred Edwards, Strathclyde's director of social work, said last night.
Mr. Edwards, who was accompanies by his wife, Jocelyn, was opening a new centre for homosexuals in Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow, set up by the Scottish Minorities Group.
Mr. Edwards said it was no good simply demanding to be understood. "You've got to understand the fears that the wider community have about groups such as yourselves. You have got to appreciate that people are frightened about things which they don't properly understand."
Mr. Edwards said that he hoped the new centre would become "an island of understanding and asylum of support" which would compensate for the loneliness that homosexuals often experienced.