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Gay News issue 96, 4 – 18 June 1976

Letters page


The story on Peter Wells (GN 95) was movingly and accurately featured.

The pattern of brutality which overshadowed this man was, and still is, typical of the treatment being meted out to ‘sexual offenders’ in almost every prison throughout the country.

Our humane (so called) legal system is undeniably geared to the causing of the greatest possible suffering, both mental and physical, to those who fall foul of it as a result of sexual intimacies with persons below the age of legal consent.

The interrogation procedures employed by the police in these matters, always harmful to the accused psychologically, and often so physically, is too frequently a system better suited to less advanced civilisations than our own. The vicious and heartless sentences given in such cases by our judges is made worse because our judiciary KNOW of the PHYSICAL sufferings to which they are sentencing such prisoners, as well as the length of the sentence as such. The animalistic brutalities of many prison officers towards sexual offenders can only leave a bad taste in the mouth. And even when actual physical violence is lacking from these quarters, those who staff our prisons are quite capable, in a thousand different ways, of inflicting various punishments harmful to the mental well being of such prisoners.

There is no doubt that the Home Office itself IS concerned about the violence against the person of the sexual offender, hence the setting up in recent years of Rule 43 Segregated wings and units. But even these are no more than mere scratches upon the surface of the problem.

As for the corrupt, twisted minds of those inmates who inflict the types of injuries done to Peter Wells, little can be said that has not already been said in certain quarters.

Nevertheless, and having said all that, I personally maintain that the most despicable facet of the whole situation is the almost indifferent attitude displayed by the gay fraternity as a whole. Over concerned with all the ‘enjoyments’ of the scene, there must be many thousands of gays in Britain alone who never raise a single word of protest to the Home Office about the vicious and inhuman treatment of sexual offenders in our prisons.

This ridiculous complacency arises, no doubt, from the belief that, because of their own mature relationships, they are not, themselves, likely to fall into a similar situation.

That really is a laugh.

I can, from experience, assure such persons that our prisons are full of such gays who thought that it could never happen to them. But the fact is that, in so many cases, it did. And it COULD be YOUR turn next. One never knows.

I would like to conclude, if I may, with just one word of sympathetic advice to Peter Wells. Very simply, it is this: Don’t lose your Christian faith Peter. It is worth hanging on to. And it can be done”.

I believe I know what I am talking about. Because I came out of prison myself only a few months ago. And I spent seven-and-a-half years inside prison for ‘sexual offences’.

JH, London
(Full name and address supplied)


Having served a four-year prison sentence for homosexual ‘offences’ myself, I can appreciate well enough what Peter Wells has been through (‘Taking Each Day As It Comes’, GN95). Nevertheless, certain of his attitudes make me furious.

He is displaying the same intolerance towards people different from himself as that which resulted in his imprisonment in the first place. He implies that the treatment he received is quite in order for someone sexually attracted to children and that his misfortune was having been mistaken for one of them.

For his information, there is no minimum age for loving someone. For every man who ‘assaults kids, imprisoning them and beating them up’, there are ten thousand or more sincere and loving relationships between adult and child.

He is doing nothing less than identifying himself with the true criminals with his statement “You don’t ‘grass’ in prison”. That is the attitude of those who do not believe in the rule of law at all.

He has wasted an opportunity to reveal the truth about the treatment of sex offenders in British prisons. Attacks from other prisoners are among the least of their worries. They are treated with a degree of inhumanity that would make Hitler or Stalin nod with approval, and the responsibility lies with the British society, from the lowest to the Home Secretary, the Prime Minister and the Queen herself.

Mr Wells is not a criminal; he is the victim of a crime, as I myself am, and as are the thousands of others, and this situation will continue until this sick society is either cured or destroyed.

Antony G Brown, Cambridge

Gay News 96 letters

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