Two weeks ago two gay activists, Lex Watson and Robert French, personally gave Ernie Shepard, head of the Vice Squad, statutory declarations admitting that they had broken each of the five anti-gay sections of the Crimes Act.
Shepard expressed little interest and tried to give the stat decs back. He refused to accept in person the four further stat decs delivered last week, and they were sent to him by certified mail. Another eight have been sent this week, and more will be sent next week so that the total will at least equal 27, the number of men charged by the Vice Squad in the three raids so far this year, the last two of which were personally led by Shepard.
The aim of the exercise is to put pressure on the police and the government to stop the enforcement of these laws and to get them repealed.
In the latest move, Shepard has said that he does not intend to prosecute those who have signed because A) he does not want to part of this gay campaign (as though he did not start it!); B) because it is the government which makes the laws not the police; and C) because, he claims, he has insufficient evidence to prosecute (which is incorrect).
Lex Watson and Robert French have written to Sehpard asking for a statement of the reasons for not acting, and have written to the government stating that if they are not to be prosecuted, then the charges against the 27 men now before the courts must, if there is any notion of justice, be dropped immediately because the charges against them are legally indistinguishable from those which the 14 signatories so far have admitted.
They have also said to the government that a law, carrying 14 years jail which can be flouted with such impunity is a law that clearly has no place on the statute books, and it’s continued existence and arbitrary and selective enforcement is intolerable.
So far the government and the opposition have failed to respond in any way to the campaign.
The purpose of the campaign is to expose the no-win situation the government and the parliament have got themselves into. Every allegation of harassment by gays against the police is greeted by the claim ‘We are only doing our job, we don’t make the laws’. That is now obviously false. The claim that the law doesn’t matter because it is not used is false: Police DO use it to raid gays.
Equally, police recognise that to enforce the law against those who have signed these stat decs would provoke almost certain homosexual law reform moves, because of the absurdity of putting people who are (and have been) openly gay for more than 12 years on trial for not lieing about their homosexuality.
If nothing else it will make future raids on gays very much harder to justify.
There are other moves as part of the on-going law reform campaign, and more people are welcome to sign statutory declarations. Copies of the standard form of word being used, and a JP to witness them are all available.
The next meeting of the campaign will be held at the Sydney Gay Centre, 51 Holt Street, Surry Hills on Monday, October 24, at 7pm.
Come along and join the swelling ranks of the group who are perhaps the least wanted people (by the police) in NSW.