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Do we really have equality?

'Do we really have equality?'

Publicity for seXshunned

seXshunned programme note

Derek Jackman, Dramaturge

Since January 2003 7:84, Scotland's only political theatre company, has been working with OurStory Scotland and the LGBT community in Glasgow on a piece of theatre to be performed at this year's Glasgay! Festival.

The aim of the project was to ask the question, have gay people finally attained equality in Scotland?

The participants range in ages from 18 to 82, so there were many different views and opinions and the piece represents this, as it journeys from the 1960's to the present day, tracking major life-changing events.

Before the 1960's, keeping quiet was a way of life and discretion ruled the day. In 1967 the Sexual Offences Act decriminalised homosexual acts between gay men over the age of 21 and in private. But the law was only passed in England and Wales, with Scotland and Northern Ireland remaining unchanged.

Two years later the gay political movement really began to gain momentum. The Scottish Minorities Group and the Committee For Homosexual Equality were also formed in this year. In 1972, Gay News, the first UK newspaper for gay men was published, and the Scottish Minorities Group launched a campaign to decriminalize homosexuality in Scotland.

In 1980, Scotland decriminalised male homosexuality, thanks to a Robin Cook amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill.

Many more progressions were also made in the 1980's but the movement suffered a terrible blow with the advent of HIV and AIDS. However, in the face of all this, the gay community united like never before to fight prejudice and intolerance.

In 1988, Section 28, which prevented the promotion of homosexuality by local authorities, came into force without having ever been tested in court. Many political gay movements were set up in response to this, including the Stonewall group.

The 1990's saw a feeling of empowerment emerging for some after the many battles won over previous decades. The profile of the pink pound was heightened in the 1990's, some say giving gays more power than ever before. Money talks and in the decade when brands went global, the gay movement looked set to be another consumerist lifestyle choice, not who you are but what you buy. And if we have spending power then shouldn't we all be happy?

But what about those who don't have the means to spend, spend, spend? What about the kids still being bullied in schools because of their sexuality? There are real people out there who happen to be homosexual, who either can't afford to, or have no desire to buy into this new gay brand of perfect bodies, perfectly plucked eyebrows, perfect lifestyle and perfect bank balances with piles and piles of pink pounds! This normalisation, or globalisation of the community serves only to de-politicise us as we are fooled into thinking that spending power means equality.

In the 21st century gay people do have more rights and more legal freedom. We have an equal age of consent, the ban has been lifted on gays serving in the armed forces, we have openly gay police officers and politicians, but do we really have equality?

In seXshunned we have created an organic piece of theatre representing the lives and experiences of the participants; giving a voice to the people who are heard less and less in today's society. The battle for equality certainly isn't over, and we can only hope that young people in our community take up the fight.

November 2004

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