Well done PC Plod

Crawley Police announced its’ first seizure under the new blanket ban on legal highs, which came into effect this week. They raided three shops in Crawley town centre just hours after the new ban came into force, seizing the shops’ entire stocks of poppers.

Regular readers to Gay Activist will be aware that Poppers have not been banned, because they are not psychoactive. Poppers are legal.

A number of people responded to Crawley Police’s twitter announcement by drawing their attention to that bijou factette, but Crawley Police were having none of it. “POPPERS are now ILLEGAL”, they retorted.

A short time later they began to have second thoughts. “We are checking out the situation regarding the illegality of selling poppers and will update shortly,” they tweeted.

Minutes later they admitted the Poppers were seized “in error in good faith. All goods seized will be returned to the shops with apologies.”

Many thanks to Crawley Police for relieving the tedium of the Brexit debate for a day.

LA cops still do it


Navymailman | 16223ga

The Los Angeles Times reports that LA Police are still enticing and entrapping gay men cruising.

Undercover officers, critics contend, often exchange flirtatious signals and make arrests of men who think their advances are welcome, when no one else is nearby to be offended. They say that the stings can ensnare men who hadn’t otherwise been seeking sex and that they rarely, if ever, target straight people.

…Courts have raised questions about the stings, invalidating a number of prosecutions in various parts of the state. In some cases, judges found no crime had occurred because the undercover officer conveyed sexual interest to the target and no one else was present to be offended by the lewd conduct. Last month, a Los Angeles County judge threw out the charges in one case stemming from Long Beach’s 2014 operation, saying police were discriminating against gay men.

Some things never change. Meanwhile if you are headed for LA this summer – be sensible.


Will poppers criminalise gay users?

The psychoactive substances bill seeks to crack down on legal highs, especially the new generation of drugs that are designed to mimic the effects of traditional illicit substances such as cannabis and ecstasy, and which the Home Office claims caused 129 deaths in 2015. Unlike previous UK drugs legislation, which names banned drugs, the bill applies a blanket ban to any substance intended for human consumption that is capable of producing “a psychoactive effect”,

reports the Guardian, who are wondering whether using poppers will turn gay men into criminals again. The government’s own advisers thought that poppers did not need banning.

A report by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs in 2011 noted that poppers did not produce “harmful effects sufficient to constitute a societal problem” and therefore should not be banned, a conclusion that was agreed with by the home affairs select committee.

The new bill was originally introduced with the assurance that while the sale of poppers would be illegal, the use of poppers would not.

Following the passage of the bill, the government announced a review into the legal status of poppers, which will be overseen by Home Office minister Karen Bradley, but a spokesperson confirmed that poppers would be treated as an illegal product in the period between the bill coming into effect and the outcome of the government review.

Can we have some clarity, please, politicians.


Anti gay attacks on the rise in England

Attacks on gay and transgender people in the West Midlands have rocketed to more than one assault every day. Data released under a Freedom of Information request shows a 20 per cent spike in anti-gay and transphobic hate crimes last year to an average of more than 30 attacks per month.

In one particularly bad month, June 2015, there were a shocking 43 homophobic attacks. There were eight attacks on victims under the age of 16, with one victim as young as 10 suffering from anti-gay abuse. One 71-year-old victim reported homophobic abuse to the police.


Waste of time and money

Gay people should be alarmed at the proposals in the Investigatory Powers Bill, despite being watered down, in the Governments’ proposals to allow greater snooping into our emails and computer communications.

The proposals if enacted will require communications companies not only to monitor every web site that you visit and hold the records for a whole year, but even assist spies in hacking your mobile phone and computer whenever they see fit.

This is getting silly. The question we should all be asking is:

How many crimes every year are prevented by monitoring the private communications and browsing histories of millions of innocent, law abiding people who have no intention of committing a single offence?

The answer is, of course, 0. And as long as it remains 0 then this proposed law is not required.


Man accused of multiple murders of gay men in London

Stephen Port, 40, is alleged to have murdered four men he had met over gay websites and who were later found dead in an east London graveyard, a court heard today. Port appeared at Barkingside Magistrates Court charged with four counts of murder and four counts of administering a poison with intent to endanger life between last June and September this year. He was sent for trial at the Old Bailey.

The four men were found dead in the churchyard at St Margaret’s Church, in North Street, Barking. All had died from an overdose of the drug GHB allegedly administered by Port.

Anthony Walgate, 23, a second year art, fashion and design student at University of Middlesex and originally from Hull, was found dead in the early hours of June 2014 in Cooke Street, Barking, a short distance from the church. Gabriel Kovari, 22, from Deptford, was found in August by a member of the public who also found the body of Daniel Whitworth, 21, from Gravesend, Kent, in September in the same part of the churchyard. Jack Taylor, 25, from Dagenham, was found near the Abbey Ruins, in September this year, just 300 yards from where Mr Kovari and Mr Whitworth were found.


Ouch! Hate crimes go up by 22% in a year

The number of homophobic attacks reported to police leapt by nearly a quarter last year, says the Home Office. Police Forces in England and Wales recorded 5,597 hate crimes against gays and lesbians in 2014-15, a rise of 22 per cent on the previous 12 months.

Hate crimes involving those with transgender identity went up by 9 per cent.


Tunisian gays start fight back

Tunisia’s first LGBT organisation gathered together on Saturday to protest against the arrest and unlawful anal examination of a 22-year-old gay man in the resort town of Sousse.

At a cultural centre in La Marsa, Tunis, approximately 100 members of the Shams group hosted a conference in which civil society activists, lawyers, human rights experts, and other noteworthy individuals shared their ideas for how to best assist the imprisoned man.

More details have emerged over the rough treatment the young man received from the Police. At the meeting…

…They referred to the arrested man by his pseudonym Marwen. On 6 September, authorities called Marwen in for questioning about the murder of a 53-year old man in Sousse, since they had found Marwen’s number in the man’s cell phone history.

Before heading to the police station, Marwen made sure to call one of his friends, who insisted that he accompany him to the station. The friend, who remains anonymous for his safety, sat outside the interrogation room while police questioned Marwen. According to Marwen’s friend, after quickly realising Marwen was not involved in the murder, “the police began asking him if he had homosexual relations with the older deceased man.”

Marwen refused to admit to these allegations, which only frustrated the police. Marwen’s friend then heard a loud slap of a hand on a wooden table, and then one of the officers could be heard saying, “Okay you want to do it that way? Take off your pants.”

No wonder they are beginning to get organised.


Hotline Hot issue

London’s Jewish, Muslim and LGBT communities have joined forces to oppose plans by Boris Johnston for a unified hate-crime hotline, presumably to save money, claiming it would dissuade victims from reporting antisemitic, Islamophobic and homophobic attacks at a time of rising attacks, reports the Guardian. “Reporting relies on trust between organisations and their communities, and a one-number, blanket approach ignores this fundamental principle,” said Nik Noone, chief executive of Galop.