Thursday, November 04, 2004

Lightning Strikes Twice

David Morley, the barman injured in the Soho pub bombing five years ago, has been kicked to death in another homophobic attack on London's South Bank.
Perhaps this will be a wake up call to London's chattering classes who think that everything is now hunky dory for gay men in Britain. The fact is that these kind of vicious beatings are going on every week across Britain but never get covered by the national media.
Twice in the past five years, in different parts of Britain, I have been in a gay pub when the window has been smashed in, on one occasion showering me and my drink with broken glass. The one silver lining there was that the publican poured me a free pint.
Two legal points: firstly, it seems that if you kick someone to death you are unlikely to be convicted of murder, only manslaughter. So there's one useful law reform that David Blunkett could make, for a change. Secondly, the French Government are passing a law to criminalise homophobic abuse in the same way that racial abuse is illegal. So whatever is French for "fucking queer" could get you 2 years in prison. We should do it here. The Government won't because the Daily Mail would scream 'political correctness gone mad'.
The Guardian's excellent Gareth McLean, in an article yesterday, made the connection between homophobic attacks and the bile that pours from fundamentalist Christians, right-wing politicians and some reggae artists. Full, unconditional equality and legal protection for gay people wouldn't stop abuse, beatings and murder overnight, but its absence is a green light to the school bullies and the gangs of thugs who exist in every city, town and village.


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