Police continued to target gay men

DISCRIMINATION continued even after anti-gay laws were removed from the books, one Voice reader tells us.

The man, who asked to be anonymous to avoid being restigmatised, claims in the mid-90s he was targeted by homophobic police.

He says gay men who’d meet at “beats” (spots to meet for socialising) were routinely charged with “loitering with intent to commit a crime” if they were caught in a car together, even if there was no hanky panky happening. While sometimes charges followed a steamy session, such laws were almost never used against straight couples and have since been repealed.

“They’d just come in and clear out the car parks and charge everybody.

Kick doors in

“They actually wrestled people to the ground, they’d kick doors in and quite literally drag you out.

“It was real homophobia, even after the 1989 legislation went through there was still a very homophobic culture. It has changed a bit now but right up to the mid-90s there were people still being charged”.

He says the meetings were harmless and often involved little more than a barbecue, and often they were the only place people who hadn’t come out could socialise with other gay men.

His conviction put a speed hump on plans to travel to the United States, requiring him to pay for an application for a spent conviction.

“Could you imagine if you wanted to get a police clearance if you want to work with children?” he grimaces.

Along with completely wiping these convictions, he says “we think it’s really important that we get an apology as well. It’s important to show there has been a change in culture, and especially in police culture”.

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