Magazine article The Spectator

I Was 12, She Was 13

Magazine article The Spectator

I Was 12, She Was 13

Article excerpt

According to a survey reported last weekend in the Independent on Sunday, almost all homosexuals are barking mad. I am using the politically correct term 'barking mad' so as not to incur the wrath of the mental-health pressure groups, all of which become psychotically incensed and even violent when they read of mad people being described as 'nutters' or 'doolally' or - an old favourite of mine purloined from the US demotic - 'crazier than a shithouse rat'. So I'll stick to 'barking mad' and thus forestall angry letters from Mind, et al.

In this survey, two thirds of more than 2,000 gays and lesbians admitted to suffering from mental-health problems, roughly double the rate of lunacy among those people who prefer to immerse themselves in the bodily fluids of partners of the opposite sex.

I don't know what this proves, exactly. When I lived in Camberwell, a few hundred yards away from the Maudslcy asylum, I regularly saw vast legions of the deranged wandering the streets, punching trees, howling at the traffic and gibbering incomprehensibly to themselves. During the infamous Care in the Community scheme, when these people were suddenly let loose en masse, Camberwell became a giant madhouse, a sort of dry-dock Narrenschiff. One mental-health pressure group successfully prevented Cadbury's from installing a huge advertisement directly opposite the front entrance to the Maudsley, where the seriously disturbed and wacko would arrive for their chemical dosages, their electric shocks and their psychoanalysis. The ad they objected to said, in huge letters: 'Everyone's a fruit and nut case.' It was the first and only instance of an ad being withdrawn for telling the truth.

Anyway, it never occurred to me then that these poor people were all homosexuals. And perhaps they weren't. It may well be that Britain's homosexuals have all gone mad quite recently, the sort of sinister and mysterious development that might occur in a John Wyndham novel, for example. Or possibly it's simply a result of over-exposure to Graham Norton. Who knows? But somebody ought to find out.

One of the very few remaining sane homosexuals in Britain is Peter Tatchell. Not just sane and rational, but brave too, if one recalls his stand against Robert Mugabe (who is himself, one suspects, both mad and a latent homosexual). Mr Tatchell's latest broadside is directed against a particularly fatuous section of the 2003 Sexual Offences Bill, which is now going through its committee stage. The portion of the Bill to which Tatchell rightly objects exemplifies our current confusion and obsession with teenage sexuality and also our quite insatiable appetite for more and more legislation, regardless of its efficacy or appropriateness.

The Bill seeks to introduce draconian punishment for children under the age of 16 who sleep with one another and, even more so, for people over the age of 16 who have sexual relationships with people under the age of 16. As it stands, it is quite spectacularly bone-headed and inflexible legislation.

If two 15-year-olds are deemed to have kissed or caressed in a 'sexual manner' (the courts will be left to decide what is sexual and what isn't, which should provide a few laughs, at least), they could face five years in prison, or its juvenile equivalent. The penalty for two 12-year-olds who indulge in the same sorts of immoral acts are even more swingeing. …

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