Showing posts with label Gay Victim. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gay Victim. Show all posts

July 22, 2017

Dirk Bogarde In The Victim Risked Everything to Change How Gays Were Being Treated



     




Introduction

The turn of the 1960s was a time when British cinema revolutionized its attitude: it decided to face up to the issues of the day. Few problems were more controversial in public opinion than the legal status of homosexuality. The producer Michael Relph and director Basil Dearden wanted to make a film on the subject – tellingly called Victim – which would highlight the injustices facing contemporary gay men. 

They had a fight on their hands to get it made. But the film they delivered was such a damning indictment of the status quo that it actively contributed to a change in the law.

Four years earlier, the Wolfenden Report had been published, recommending the decriminalization of gay sex between consenting adults in private, and lighting the first touchpaper for legal change since the Criminal Law Amendment Act in 1885

(Telegraph)  

In this relatively enlightened age, it’s horrifying to consider how gay people were treated by society just half a century ago. Back then, being closeted was not an option but a necessity. As the 1960s dawned, homosexuality was still deemed an illness and a crime across the globe. Those caught and convicted often went to prison, and then were ostracized, their lives ruined.

Some key moments in the struggle for gay rights are well-documented, including 1969’s infamous Stonewall Riots in New York City, where gays rose up angrily to resist police brutality. However, other quieter but no less courageous actions also advanced the cause, in other parts of the world.

Dirk Bogarde, a superb actor and renowned British movie star of the ‘50s and ’60s, performed a little-known act of heroism when he agreed to play a closeted homosexual barrister who’s being blackmailed in Basil Dearden’s gripping drama, “Victim” (1961). This would be the first feature film to address the topic of homosexuality openly, the first film where the word “homosexual” is even uttered. 
What’s more extraordinary about Bogarde’s decision was that unlike several other actors who’d turned down the part (James Mason and Stewart Granger among them), he was actually gay, and many in the industry knew it. Thus he was really putting his livelihood and reputation in peril.

Still, the respect this gifted actor had earned over fifteen years in the film business, combined with a gradual softening in attitudes towards the issue, allowed Bogarde to survive the experience with both his career and dignity intact.

That respect was well-earned. Dirk Bogarde was born into an upper-middle class family in 1921. His father was the art critic for The Times. At first intending to pursue the same line of work, young Derek (as he was then known) studied commercial art before switching over to drama.

 


Dirk seized with relish on the role of Melville Farr, the successful barrister with the beautiful wife, because Victim (1961) had something important to say about a society in which the blackmailing of homosexuals was commonplace. When the film was made, Lord Wolfenden’s Committee had reported on the merits of qualified reform, but the legislature was slow to respond.
Six years later, the Sexual Offences Act was passed, partially decriminalising homosexual acts in private between consenting males aged 21 or over. In 1968 the Earl of Arran, who had introduced the legislation in the House of Lords, wrote to Dirk, acknowledging the part the latter had played in helping to change the climate for the better. The brief but gratifying letter is reproduced on these pages by kind permission of the writer’s son, the 9th Earl.(dickbogarde.co.uk)
The Second World War intervened and very soon Derek was in the thick of it as an intelligence officer. Eventually awarded seven medals and attaining the rank of Major, Bogarde was present at the liberation of the Bergen-Belsen death camp, a horrific experience he likened to “peering into Dante’s Inferno.”

After the war, he returned to acting, and was signed to a long-term contract in 1948 by Britain’s J. Arthur Rank studio. Derek (re-christened Dirk) would make pictures there for a dozen years, most memorably starring in three of their wildly popular “Doctor in The House” comedies, about the wacky goings-on in a dysfunctional hospital.

By the time “Victim” came along, Bogarde was at a crossroads. He had just survived an ill-fated foray in Hollywood, where he made two indifferent features and vowed never to return. His contract at Rank was also wrapping up. It was at this juncture that he resolved to focus on serious art house films going forward. (This decision may actually have emboldened him to do “Victim,” as the fans most likely to be alienated would not flock to the movies he now wanted to do anyhow.) 
Notably, his taking on the role of Melville Farr in “Victim” was not an occasion for him to come out. It would take another quarter century before Bogarde would acknowledge that his relationship with longtime companion and manager Anthony Forwood was more than platonic.

For Bogarde, his private life was just that. Still, he saw no reason not to do “Victim,” because he knew it would make a very good film (he was right), and because it shed light on an injustice that he felt, at long last, needed addressing.

Though its highly controversial subject matter guaranteed a limited release, the film helped spur debate on whether homosexuality should remain a crime in England. It may well have accelerated its decriminalization in 1967. 

Dirk Bogarde would make his most memorable and enduring films over the following decade, in collaboration with directors Joseph Losey (1963’s “The Servant,” 1964’s “King and Country”), John Schlesinger (1965’s “Darling”), and Luchino Visconti ( 1971’s “Death in Venice”).

Having dabbled in poetry years before, Bogarde decided to take up writing in the late ‘70s and became prolific, penning a series of well-received novels, essays and memoirs. On paper, the actor’s innate reserve melted away, and this new career reportedly gave him immense satisfaction.

Sir Dirk Bogarde (he’d been knighted in 1992) died at age 78 in 1999, ten years after Anthony Forwood’s passing. A heavy smoker, he succumbed to a heart attack after previously enduring two strokes.

He deserves to be remembered as a great actor and writer, and also a gallant, principled man who accepted a part other actors were afraid to play, at great risk to himself. In doing so, he helped change the world for the better.
(Best Movies By Farr)


~~~More
A seriously handsome, bona fide star who had made 35 films by the age of 40, Dirk Bogarde was both British and knighted and made more arrestingly bold choices than any actor of his generation, taking name-above-the-title roles in The Servant and Accident with Joseph Losey, Death in Venice and The Damned for Luchino Visconti, The Night Porter for Liliana Cavani, Providence for Alain Resnais and Despair for Rainer Werner Fassbinder. All that from a man who as early as 1958 was the biggest draw at the British box office – pulling bigger audiences than Marlon Brando, Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra, Audrey Hepburn and Elvis Presley. 

In addition, by the time of his death, in 1999, he had reinvented himself. He published six novels, plus collections of correspondence and criticism, and, crucially, seven best-selling volumes of memoirs throughout which he staunchly claimed to be straight. Actress Glynis Johns, a contemporary most famous as the suffragette mother in Mary Poppins, tartly observed, "I never believed more than one sentence of what Dirk wrote." She should know: she was once married to Tony Forwood who had divorced her and subsequently lived with Bogarde as his "manager" for almost 40 years.

Bogarde's position was, initially, understandable. Born in 1921, for his first 46 years homosexuality was against the law. Any man caught in "homosexual acts" faced imprisonment. That prohibition was ruthlessly policed. In 1955, 2,504 men were arrested for "homosexual offenses", ie, about seven people every day. Even Ian McKellen, 18 years younger, didn't come out until 1988 when he was 49. Bogarde never did.

Although fully entitled to privacy, his blanket denials on television, radio and in print post-1967 legalization became, for me, increasingly hard to stomach. Posthumously, the man behind the painstakingly maintained mask was uncovered in home movies and commentaries from family and friends in a BBC documentary The Private Dirk Bogarde (2001) and John Coldstream's biography. The great irony of Bogarde's position, however, is that no other screen actor has given such affecting and extraordinarily powerful gay performances.

Even now (it's changing somewhat) the industry regards playing gay as being potentially career-damaging, an act so "brave" that your Oscar virtually comes with the contract – step forward William Hurt for Kiss of the Spiderwoman (1985), Tom Hanks for Philadelphia (1993), Philip Seymour Hoffman for Capote (2005), Sean Penn for Milk (2008). Probably the only reason Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal didn't win for Brokeback Mountain was that their dual presence canceled one another out.

Regardless of the authenticity – or lack thereof – of those performances by straight actors, they pale beside the still astonishing impact of Bogarde's shockingly truthful performance back in 1961 as a barrister embroiled in a secret gay affair in Victim.

Bogarde plays married barrister Melville Farr who discovers that a blackmailed young man who loved him has hanged himself in police custody rather than reveal their relationship. Realizing Farr's intention to uncover the plot, the blackmailers threaten to expose him. In the central scene – whose dialogue was rewritten to more explicit effect by Bogarde himself – Farr is confronted by his distressed wife (played by Sylvia Syms).

Shot in high-contrast black-and-white, edged with the darkness of a sitting-room at night but trapped in a fierce spotlight, Bogarde is mesmerizing. Crisply suited, dry-voiced and on the edge of tears, he painfully stifles the emotion threatening to destroy him. With the camera locked in close-up, he lifts his chin ever so slightly in defiance, his eyes widening into a glare of triumph that costs him everything.

"You won't be content until I tell you, will you, until you've ripped it out of me. I stopped seeing him because I wanted him. Can you understand – because I WANTED him."

I can still remember being transfixed – and terrified – by that moment when I first saw it by accident on television one night. It was the 1970s, I was a guilt-ridden, fiercely closeted teenager and I had never, ever seen or heard a man on screen or off express such piercing desire for another man. I felt physically torn between an absolute need to keep watching and the cramping fear that my parents would come in and instantly understand why I was watching something so incriminating.

Bogarde always maintained that the camera photographed thought. Nowhere is that more true than in that scene. It wasn't just this teenager who recognized the staggering truth behind that performance and its implications for the actor.

In a television interview to promote the film, he was asked the not-so-veiled question: "You must feel very strongly about this subject to risk losing possibly a large part of your audience by appearing in such a bitterly controversial film?"

With manufactured insouciance, Bogarde counters, "I don't think so, no. This is a marvelous part and in a film I think is tremendously important because it doesn't pull any punches: it's quite honest. I don't have to use any old tricks for the fans, it's a straightforward character performance."

Necessarily disingenuous as that was, in hindsight, it's also seriously unconvincing due to his immensely camp "who me?" manner, his left eyebrow arched, his fingers playing with his ear and chin.

Being able to pinpoint a scene that changed a career is rare, but that's what that Victim scene did. And having just engineered his release from his constraining 14-year-old contract with the Rank Organisation, Bogarde accelerated to an international reputation taking on increasingly complex roles with adventurous directors. Contrarily, the finest of those performances were in roles amplifying his hidden sexuality.

He was memorably vicious as the vicious Barrett, the manservant manipulating imperiled, upper-class James Fox into sex-and-power games in Losey's superbly elliptical (and Pinter-scripted) The Servant. And, in 1971, he crowned his career with Death in Venice, playing a man who falls fatally in love with the ideal of beauty exemplified by a beautiful boy. With almost no dialogue, the film amounts to a 125-minute reaction shot. As casting director Michelle Guish observed of Helen Mirren the day after the first Prime Suspect aired, no other British actor could have played that role that well because no one else had that depth of screen experience.

Was it arrogance that pushed the controlled Bogarde to the brink of self-exposure in this and other defining roles? He destroyed almost all of his personal papers, so we'll never know. Whatever conclusion we try to draw, the screen evidence survives.

Independent

June 9, 2017

Sheriff's Office Out of Control in Toilets at Volusia County, Florida




 Tittle, editorial, leading pic by adamfoxie
Can you believe that in the 21st century you would have plain clothes cops patrolling toilets in any part of this country? Florida, a state that was known as a backward state for its intolerance, some crazy laws and uneducated "crackers" would want to get that tittle again after so many communities have made strides in changing the attitudes of badly educated cops of what it takes to protect a community. There are drug pushers, theft, shootings, traffic enforcement, school safety and anti gang programs to enforce. Going into a men's bathroom and to wait to be proposed or proposing another man in an enclosed public toilet makes no sense. 

After getting some men of the community (which are usually married but closeted) to bite on the vice penis show and then proudly released their names to the media tells you is not the activity they are after but the men because of what they are. They are not liked because of sex...we have been in that toilet before and it smells. After all, the activity does not hurt anyone and we do not need cops to enforce sex laws, this is for Saudi Arabia, Iran and Afghanistan to do these things. Even then they don't use cops but religion enforcers. Is that what this ignorant sheriff is? Who cares if in a public toilet some guy makes an "eye' pass at another? Believe me if the other party is not interested the looking party is going to know in no uncertain way they screwed big time! 

I don't agree with this activity but I respect the privacy of these men and since they are not harming anyone, I stand by their civil rights. These are guys the sheriff knows are unlikely to ask for a trial with a jury of their peers. They are too shame for that. If they would ask for a jury trial very quickly the county would see how much it costs in dollars and sense but the truth is the men would probably plea down and be fined. The cops take advantage of that fact. They can make easy money, shame the sinners, make headlines they keep an eye on the toilets, etc. Meanwhile lives and families are destroyed for the married men.

To both the Sheriff and the men, grow up already!

News as reported by media:

A four-day sting operation at several parks in Florida’s Volusia County resulted in the arrest of 17 men for lewd activity and one for battery. But some, including LGBTQ civil rights group Lambda Legal, are raising concerns over how police and local media have handled the arrests. 
In a released statement on the sting, which was dubbed “Operation Park Hopper,” the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office said their actions came in response to complaints about lewd activity in local parks. 
The information released by police also included the first and last names of the arrested men, their ages, their home addresses, a video of one man’s arrest and an account of a 75-year-old man’s interaction with an undercover deputy. 

Image: Volusia County's Operation Park Hopper

Volusia County's Operation Park Hopper Volusia County Sheriff's Office / via Facebook

“Evidently, [the man] thought he was safe because he was on the east side of the county, in Ormond Beach,” the statement said of the 75-year-old. “He was wrong. Moments after he walked to a picnic shelter at the park with the stranger, pulled out his penis and started masturbating in plain view, [he] found himself in handcuffs and on the way to jail—charged with indecent exposure and committing an unnatural and lascivious act.” 
The statement then elaborated upon the arrests, saying the men would “approach undercover deputies, strike up a conversation, steer the talk to sex and then start doing more than just talking about it.” 
An indecent exposure conviction is considered a first-degree misdemeanor in Florida and punishable by up to one year in prison, a fine of $1,000 or both. A conviction of an “unnatural and lascivious act” is considered a second-degree misdemeanor and is punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine. 
While discussing the circumstances surrounding the Operation Park Hopper arrests laid out in the statement, Lambda Legal Director of Constitutional Litigation Susan Sommer told NBC Out “entrapment is definitely a law enforcement tool used against gay men.” 
“You’d need more information on the setup and the circumstances in this particular instance, but it’s completely common to learn that law enforcement have entrapped men into alleged violations of sexual misconduct laws,” Sommer explained. 
She pointed to a sting operation in New York that she said had “eerie similarities” to the Volusia County arrests. 
“They round up gay men and then do this really horrendous public shaming where they print their mug shots and their names and their ages and the towns where they live,” Sommer said. “And they use the same kind of rhetoric that I saw quoted [in the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office statement].” 
Sommer also pointed out that publishing the names, mug shots and addresses of men arrested in sting operations like these can have dire consequences. 
“Men have employers who suddenly suspend or fire them, places where they live try to drum them out, news cameras and vans are staked outside their homes and they’re shunned,” Sommer said. “It causes people to be suicidal. It far exceeds any kind of police response to any other alleged nuisance activity.” 
“The government can certainly outlaw public sex, but it must take care to enforce such bans within constitutional limits,” said Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern, a gay journalist who has written on gay sex stings in the past. “When law enforcement officers target gay men for no apparent reason other than their sexual orientation, they run the risk of running afoul of basic equal protection principles.” 
Stern pointed to a previous case in Long Beach, Calif., where a court threw out the conviction of a gay man who had been arrested for cruising, because it was ruled that the police department had acted on unconstitutional “animus toward homosexuals.” 
“Put simply, it is not at all clear that the Volusia County Sheriff remained within constitutional boundaries in his zeal to arrest, imprison and humiliate these men,” Stern added. 
Most of the men arrested in Operation Park Hopper were middle-aged or older, which Sommer speculated could be indicative of generational differences between older and younger gay men. 
“Older men were more closeted, because they grew up and came of age in an era that was even more oppressive, when sodomy laws were still enforced,” she said. “This wasn’t a community that could be open or flourish in the light of day. There were no gathering places, so men would have to find each other in these kinds of venues. The internet and Facebook and apps have made it much easier for people who are tapped into that to meet each other.” 
After being provided with an information packet by the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office, several local news outlets published the names, home addresses, arrest locations and mug shots of the 18 men charged in the sting operation. One of the men can be seen crying in his photo. 
“Because of the significance of the operation and the number of arrests, the decision was made to announce the results at a news conference,” Gary Davidson, a spokesman for the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office, told NBC Out via email. “When we have a news conference, we always compile an information packet for the media with all of the relevant information.” 
Davidson also pointed out that the information his department provided to the media, including the defendants’ home addresses, is a matter of public record and contained in the charging affidavits. He said his office compiled and distributed the information “for the convenience of media outlets covering the news conference.” 
Sommer said media outlets ought to exercise caution before publishing personal and possibly sensitive information. 
“I think the media needs to act responsibly and not publish pictures and names and not participate in something that could fuel vigilante behavior,” Sommer said. “The harm you could do to someone’s life far outweighs any public interest or value in doing so.” 
During the Operation Park Hopper news conference, Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said the arrests were meant to send a message. 
“These types of activities impact the quality of life of our citizens,” he said. “It’s important that we set the tone that our parks and trails are safe for families and children.
by 

May 10, 2017

A Couple of Gay Men Faced 1 Day Trial for Being Gay Now the 80 Lashes Begins



 The two men have been jailed since march. Here they enter  court.

Shariah prosecutors in Indonesia’s Aceh province say two men on trial for gay sex should each be punished with 80 lashes, in another blow to the country's moderate image after a top Christian official was imprisoned for blasphemy.

The lead prosecutor, Gulmaini, who goes by one name, said Wednesday the two men aged 20 and 23 had "confessed" to being in a gay relationship, which was supported by video footage and other evidence found in their rented room.
The men were led into the court handcuffed together and pulled their tops up to partially obscure their faces.

The couple was arrested in late March after neighborhood vigilantes in the provincial capital Banda Aceh suspected them of being gay and set out to catch them having sex. Mobile phone footage that circulated online and forms part of the evidence shows one of the men naked and visibly distressed as he apparently calls for help on his cellphone. The second man is repeatedly pushed by another man who is preventing the couple from leaving the room.

If found guilty, the men will be the first to be caned for gay sex under a new Shariah code implemented in Aceh two years ago. Aceh is the only province in Muslim-majority Indonesia to practice Shariah law, which was a concession made by the national government in 2006 to end a years-long war with separatists.

Indonesia's reputation for practicing a moderate form of Islam has been battered in the past year due to attacks on religious minorities, a surge in persecution of gays and a polarizing election campaign for Jakarta governor that highlighted the growing strength of hard-line Islamic groups.
On Tuesday, the outgoing Jakarta governor, a minority Christian, was sentenced to two years prison for blaspheming the Quran.
      
The Shariah code allows up to 100 lashes for morality offenses including gay sex. Caning is also a punishment for adultery, gambling, drinking alcohol, women who wear tight clothes and men who skip Friday prayers.

Human Rights Watch has called for authorities to immediately release the two men. “These men had their privacy invaded in a frightening and humiliating manner and now face public torture for the 'crime' of their alleged sexual orientation," it said in a statement last month.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP



April 8, 2017

55yrOld Gay Teacher in Mumbai Gets Blackmailed by Acquaintances



It is a well-known fact that many people who identify with the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community in India are walking a very fine line – be true to who he/she really is while also maintaining a cautious approach of how that comes across in day to day life. (case details at bottom)



55-year-old unmarried man gives up life’s savings and mother’s jewellery to blackmailer in 3-year extortion saga; one accused arrested

Amar (name changed), a 55-year-old government school teacher, had to go through blackmail and extortion for three years after he fell into a trap laid for him by his acquaintance. N Hemanth Kumar, a cyber centre owner, started working on the contours of the trap after he came to know that Amar is a homosexual. 

Hemanth facilitated an encounter with a male partner for Amar in 2014 with the help of three others. Unknown to Amar, the encounter was filmed.

Since then, he and the others have been extorting money from Amar. So far Amar has had to part with cash and valuables adding up to Rs 31 lakh. He has given all his savings and blank cheque leaves, his ATM cards with the PIN numbers, bought the accused a scooter, sold his mother’s jewellery and did all he could to stop the footage going public.

When the harassment proved too much to bear, Amar approached a senior police officer for help. Seeing the gravity of the issue, the officer put a team of policemen on the job. Hemanth has been arrested and a search is on for the others.

Amar, a resident of Rajajinagar, would go to a cyber centre near his house to get photocopies of documents. He got acquainted with the centre owner Hemanth, 34.

The two talked about their personal lives and Hemanth came to that Amar is a bachelor, a government school teacher, and was living with his elderly mother and two brothers.

“In February 2014, Amar gave Hemanth his phone after there was a technical issue with it. Hemanth came upon gay porn videos on it when he was going through it. He surmised Amar may be interested in having sex with men. When he asked him, the victim sought Hemanth’s help to meet male partners. The accused then checked online for male partners and connected with Arun, another accused,” said an officer, who is part of the probe.

Arun approached Yusuf, the other accused in the case. Yusuf agreed to have a sexual encounter for Rs 10,000 a day. Hemanth is said to have discussed this with the victim. The victim agreed to pay the money and booked a cottage in Madikeri.

“Hemanth knew the victim would have saved up money. So he hatched a plot to trap him. Yusuf was to record his sexual encounter with the victim. At the cottage, Yusuf had fixed cameras and recorded their sexual encounter. He then handed a copy to Hemanth, another to Arun and kept one with himself,” the officer said.

A month after the incident, Hemanth showed the victim the video and started extorting money from him, the officer said.

Whenever Arun and Yusuf wanted money, they would approach Hemanth who would then blackmail the teacher and take money from him.

The trio took cash and valuables worth Rs 31 lakh -- of which Rs 18 lakh was in cash. They also extorted a home theatre system, iPhones and a two-wheeler. Hemanth had also used another of his friends Mani to make phone calls.

“Hemanth was arrested last week by the West division police. A search is on for the other three - Arun, Yusuf and Mani. We have managed to get cheque leaves and an electronic gadget worth Rs 50,000. The remaining money is yet to be recovered. A case of extortion has been registered under Section 384 of the Indian Penal Code,” the officer said.

The police will also visit the cottage where the alleged sexual encounter video was shot.

Praveen Kumar, Bangalore Mirror Bureau

On a Two Yr old crime:

It is a well-known fact that many people who identify with the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community in India are walking a very fine line – be true to who he/she really is while also maintaining a cautious approach of how that comes across in day to day life. It is unfortunate that such people are held under a microscope with every single action of theirs being analysed and dissected by society, and most recently, for nefarious gains.

A 31-year-old gay man in Mumbai named Rajan was surreptitiously followed into a men’s bathroom by two strangers and coerced into performing oral sex on both of them. The act was recorded. The men then demanded that Rajan take them to a nearby ATM to withdraw his savings of Rs15,000 and if he refused, they would report the sexual encounter to the police.

“They knew I was gay. They were watching me and waiting… Even though society has not fully accepted us, the law was there to protect us. But now we are scared,” Rajan had told reporters.

May 30, 2016

This Seductive Cop is Looking to Destroy a Man’s Life


Sitting in cars along the edge of the park, four Long Beach police officers waited for the right time to pounce.
The innocuous signal that spurred them to action came when they saw a middle-aged man close his laptop and head toward a public restroom known in the area as a place where men have sex with each other. One of the undercover officers followed him inside.
Within moments, police were leading the man away in handcuffs. His crime: exposing himself to the officer.
The 2014 arrest in Recreation Park marked another successful sting for the city’s vice squad. But the undercover operation, which was sharply criticized recently by a judge, also exemplifies a controversial, age-old police tactic that many of California’s largest law enforcement agencies have quietly abandoned in recent years amid mounting criticism and changing sexual attitudes.
In Los Angeles, Long Beach and other areas where undercover lewd conduct stings endure, police defend them as an important tool for catching people who are violating the law and for deterring others from trying to have sex in parks and other public areas used by families and children.
Gay-rights activists do not condone public sex but have long condemned the busts as a form of entrapment, saying they unfairly single out gay men, with sometimes devastating consequences. The issue has been debated for decades. But in recent years, critics of the stings have gained traction as public attitudes about homosexuality and gay rights have shifted.
Undercover officers, critics contend, often exchange flirtatious signals and make arrests of men who think their advances are welcome, when no one else is nearby to be offended. They say that the stings can ensnare men who hadn't otherwise been seeking sex and that they rarely, if ever, target straight people.
Under state law, people who are convicted of indecent exposure must register as sex offenders and face possible jail time. Some have lost their jobs or committed suicide.
“Nobody is going to defend lewd conduct, but there is a qualitative difference between sexual predators and people who engage in boorish behavior,” said Los Angeles County Assessor Jeffrey Prang, who is gay and a former special assistant in the Sheriff's Department who worked with its LGBT advisory council. “Criminalizing them isn’t really justice. You just want them to stop.”
Courts also have raised questions about the stings, invalidating a number of prosecutions in various parts of the state. In some cases, judges found no crime had occurred because the undercover officer conveyed sexual interest to the target and no one else was present to be offended by the lewd conduct. Last month, a Los Angeles County judge threw out the charges in one case stemming from Long Beach's 2014 operation, saying police were discriminating against gay men.
Many law enforcement agencies have stopped in response to lawsuits or after political backlash. The Times contacted police officials in San Jose, Anaheim, Glendale, San Francisco, Bakersfield, Beverly Hills and Laguna Beach, among other agencies. Representatives for each said their departments had not used such undercover stings in years.
These officials said they came to view the stings as ineffective or unnecessary after noticing a sharp drop-off in complaints about public sex during an age when men can easily find sexual partners through the Internet and dating apps such as Grindr.
Some cities have found alternative ways to tackle the problem of cruising — the act of searching for anonymous public sex. Departments will now post uniformed officers near cruising hotspots or improve lighting and trim trees and bushes in areas known for public sex.
“Bottom line is, there were much better things that the vice ... bureau should have been engaged in, namely sex trafficking and sexual exploitation,” said Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Cmdr. Merrill Ladenheim, who heads the agency’s human trafficking task force. “We really refocused our efforts on those other crimes where we have a victim.”
LAPD officials say they have made a point of carrying out undercover operations less frequently in recent years. In 2007, the agency revamped its lewd conduct policy to tell officers that stings should be used only “as a last resort.”
But when alternative tactics fail, the department has no choice but to deploy decoy officers, said Capt. Andy Neiman, the LAPD’s chief spokesman. While lewd conduct complaints have dropped dramatically in recent years, Neiman said stings have been used to shut down persistent hotspots for gay cruising and lewd acts 11 times since 2014.
Complaints often come from people concerned about sex acts in public places, namely libraries and residential streets, where children could stumble upon people engaged in a lewd act, Neiman said. 
“You still have to enforce the law when you get complaints,” he said.
The use of undercover cops to target gay men in Southern California stretches back to the early 20th century, when gay sex was illegal, said Lillian Faderman, a historian and author of “Gay L.A.: A History of Sexual Outlaws, Power Politics, and Lipstick Lesbians.”
The pioneers were W.H. Warren and B.C. Brown, “vice specialists” who loitered in public restrooms and other areas while carrying out so-called “purity campaigns” aimed at gay men in Long Beach and Los Angeles, Faderman wrote, adding that their methods served as a model for stings throughout Southern California.
The pair had no prior police training but were given police badges in both cities. They were paid for each arrest and offered their services to other major cities, she said.
In 1914, The Times reported on an operation in which the two helped arrest 31 men accused of engaging in gay sex at private clubs in Long Beach. Long Beach’s mayor and police chief awarded Warren and Brown a proclamation that said their work “rid the city of a dangerous class which threatened the morals of the youth of the community.”
Soon after the arrests, one of the men, a prominent banker and church officer, committed suicide by ingesting cyanide. The fear that other men would follow suit led the city to temporarily ban the sale of toxic substances, The Times reported.
In more recent decades, police agencies that employed the stings defended them as an effective way of responding to complaints about areas well-known for public hook-ups. Decoy operations are necessary to make arrests, officials said, because the crime of lewd conduct is a misdemeanor that requires officers to witness the conduct to justify an arrest.
“These are public parks, and public parks attract kids and families,” said Bakersfield Sgt. Gary Carruesco, whose department stopped conducting stings after a judge found the practice to be discriminatory in 2005. “Obviously, they can walk into a bathroom and witness things.”
West Hollywood Councilman John Duran, an attorney who has represented men in cruising cases for 30 years, said a typical client was a “deeply closeted gay or bisexual man who had hidden rendezvous in public places.” Many, he said, had low self-esteem and turned to cruising because they thought they were undeserving of intimacy.
But the LGBT movement, said Duran, who is gay, “has produced new generations of out and proud people who believe they can have healthy sexual encounters.” Growing public support of gay rights and the presence of openly gay officers in police departments has put pressure on agencies to stop using stings, he said.
Recent decoy operations have drawn fierce criticism.
Palm Springs police sparked outrage in 2009 when officers arrested 19 men in an undercover sting in a neighborhood known for gay resorts. Audio recordings of the operation caught a detective and the police chief making derogatory comments about the men who were arrested. The chief later resigned, and the department has not employed the tactic again, a police spokesman said.
In 2012, Manhattan Beach police were blasted for releasing the mugshots of men swept up in a lewd conduct sting. Police said at the time that local lifeguards had found graffiti of graphic sexual images on restroom walls, and holes drilled through stall partitions.
One man sued the city, alleging that he was falsely arrested and that his photograph and name were released to the media. The department stopped using decoys soon afterward, said Sgt. Paul Ford, supervisor of the agency’s detective bureau.
In Long Beach, gay-rights activists said they were troubled — and surprised — to see stings still being deployed in a city with a vibrant LGBT community and an openly gay mayor.
Long Beach police took more than two dozen men into custody during decoy operations from 2012 to 2014, according to Bruce Nickerson, a civil rights attorney.
One of those men was Rory Moroney, who was arrested in the Recreation Park sting in 2014.
On the day he was arrested, Moroney said he was using his laptop in the park to search for jobs. He knew the reputation of the men’s room, but he hadn’t gone there to cruise, he said. Moroney, 50, said he was washing his hands when he saw a man standing in a stall, thumbs hooked over his belt, smiling and nodding. He believed the undercover officer was flirting.
“They were targeting. That’s not right,” Moroney said. “They baited me. They trapped me.”
On April 29, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Halim Dhanidina sided with Moroney and tossed out the charges. The judge noted that the Long Beach police vice unit had conducted a series of stings spanning two years that used only male officers to arrest male suspects seeking sex with other men.
Dhanidina found that the stings were “indicative of animus toward homosexuals.” The judge also ruled that “the presence and tactics of the decoy officers actually caused the crimes to occur.”
 Long Beach police said they conduct decoy operations only in response to public complaints. Cmdr. Paul Lebaron, who oversees the city’s detective division, including the vice unit, said the department exhausts other tactics first before using stings as a last resort. Lebaron, who was not running vice operations when Moroney was arrested, said the agency has conducted only one lewd conduct sting since January 2015.
The city prosecutor’s office has not said if it will appeal the judge’s decision. Nickerson said he plans to argue in court that the charges against the 27 other men caught in the stings in 2013 and 2014 should be invalidated.
Mayor Robert Garcia said he hadn’t been aware of the stings and that the city is now reviewing its policies.
“I view Long Beach as a progressive place that believes in justice and dignity for everybody,” Garcia said. “So when I hear that something occurs that could be contrary to that, I’m alarmed.”
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Long Beach’s morality was in doubt.
So claimed the Los Angeles Times in numerous sensationalist 1914 stories about the arrests of 31 men allegedly tied to two private clubs in the city where gay men were said to cross dress and have sex with each other.
It was a racy scandal, the Times sneered, with details that were “unprintable” — and yet one that the newspaper could not get enough of.
Long Beach police, following the lead of undercover “vice specialists” W.H. Warren and B.C. Brown, arrested the men on so-called social vagrancy charges, collecting steep fines — $5,275 in all — or throwing in jail those who could not pay.
Nov. 19, 1914: Long Beach Recital of Shameless Men.
Nov. 19, 1914: Long Beach Recital of Shameless Men. (Los Angeles Times archive)
The newspaper's account of the "scandal" that enveloped the city offers a window into the virulently homophobic attitudes that prevailed a century ago, when gay sex was illegal and police pioneered the use of undercover stings to identify and prosecute gay people. The stories also underscore the role that The Times and other newspapers played in perpetuating the era's homophobia.
The Times printed the names of the arrested men and mocked its neighboring city over the discovery of underground gay social organizations — the 606 Club and 96 Club. At one point, the newspaper published a story with the dateline, “The Holy City of Long Beach.” 
But amid the sarcasm and public calls for purity, the sweep had devastating effects. One of the arrested men, a prominent Long Beach banker and church officer, killed himself by swallowing cyanide near the beach. In a note to his sister, he said he was innocent but “crazed by reading the paper this morning” in which his name had been published. Long Beach officials temporarily banned the sale of toxic substances afterward, fearful that others might follow suit.
Only one of the men, florist Herbert N. Lowe, fought the charges. His trial, the Times reported, was the talk of the town, with large crowds fighting for seats in the courtroom.
Nov. 15, 1914: Takes His Life Through Shame
Nov. 15, 1914: Takes His Life Through Shame (Los Angeles Times archive)
“Doubting Thomases of Long Beach who refused to believe the existence of a certain class of vice in that city, heard in court yesterday the bald stories of the officers who put in jail thirty-one men on the charge of vagrancy,” the Times wrote of Lowe’s trial, adding that “It was a dramatic and hideous recital, and startled the populace.”
Officers Brown and Warren — reportedly attractive men who had no prior police training but were given badges in Long Beach and Los Angeles to rid the cities of vice – were the star witnesses, saying they got $10 for each captured “social vagrant.”
At one point, according to Times reports on the testimony, Brown rented a cottage from Lowe and arranged for other officers to watch from a peephole and window as he baited Lowe to flirt with him. One evening, Brown lay down on his bed, expecting Lowe to arrive. As officers spied on the room, Lowe tried to become intimate with Brown but was interrupted by a noise: Someone peeking into the room slipped loudly on gravel outside. Several officers then rushed in to arrest Lowe.
But in the end, the jury acquitted Lowe after his attorney said the undercover officers’ hands were “dripping with the blood” of the man who killed himself. The Times’ headline read: “Jury Acquits in Six-O-Six...Stool-pigeons and Police Given No Credence,” referring to the undercover officers.
Dec. 12, 1914: Jury Acquits in Six-O-Six.
Dec. 12, 1914: Jury Acquits in Six-O-Six. (Los Angeles Times archive)
Even in that era, the newspapers were criticized for publishing the names of arrestees, especially after the suicide, by some members of the public and by local officials embarrassed by the arrests.
But the newspapers defended themselves with self-righteous outrage. In November 1914, The Times published an editorial from The Sacramento Bee — titled “An Unprejudiced Observer: Publicity is Needed and Then More Publicity” — saying that despite criticism, newspapers should not suppress “news concerning this most horrible of all filthy crimes.”
Of the man’s death by cyanide, the editorial stated: “His suicide in itself was a confession.”
In 1915, several months after the sting operation, one of the Long Beach vice officers, Warren, and a married woman with whom he was infatuated were found dead in an apparent murder-suicide, The Times reported.
The newspaper described how Warren, who conducted the “now celebrated ‘social vagrant investigations,’” referred to himself as “the master of women.” He shot the victim when she refused his advances and then turned the gun on himself.  
The article mentions that Warren made a good living from arresting so-called social vagrants, sometimes more than $100 a week. Attributed to Warren’s “activity,” the Times said, was the death of a New York City actor he “exposed with a success that resulted in the man’s desperate leap from a window with a trunk strap around his throat.” 
                                                                   LA Times

February 3, 2015

No Victim No Crime- No Harm No Sin


                                                                            

Dennis Rünger posted the following piece on G+ and I think this is something to keep in mind when we say something is bad. As Dennis states below we need to find a victim and the harm that it does, otherwise how can it be bad? No victim no crime.

Social (Social Neuroscience, Organizational, EvPsych, etc.) -  
 
I find research on morality to be one of the most interesting areas in psychological science today. This NYT articles describes a series of studies showing that we possess a schema for immoral acts that includes not only the act itself but also 'slots' for the perpetrator and the victim. This means that we are motivated to look for, and find, victims of acts we consider immoral, even when there are none.

Here's an example from the text:
"In the 19th century ... masturbation was widely considered immoral — and harmful. According to Dr. Adam Clarke, a medical authority of the day, 'neither the plague, nor war, nor small-pox, nor similar diseases, have produced results so disastrous to humanity as the pernicious habit of Onanism.' But now that masturbation has lost its moral stigma, it no longer is seen to victimize anyone.”

 
This piece claims that we tend to invent victims for acts we consider immoral.  As the piece points out, Even ostensibly “victimless” behaviors like necrophilia were seen to involve injured parties.

People understand immorality though a universal template — a dyad of perpetrator and victim. Most immoral acts have a “complete” dyad, such as murder (murderer and murdered), theft (thief and thieved) and abuse (abuser and abused). But with many morally controversial acts, such as those involving adult pornography, prostitution, drugs or homosexuality, the victims seem less obvious or absent altogether.

When we encounter such an “incomplete” dyad, we tend to slot in a victim. Such victims can be friends, family, future generations or the soul of the perpetrator. Very often they are children, because of their vulnerability and sensitivity to suffering. It is no accident that moralists of all kinds beseech others to “think of the children.” ...

Perceptually speaking, if you see something as wrong, you almost certainly see it as harmful.

So when you are about to argue against something, for example, eating genetically modified food, on the grounds that it will hurt someone, take a second look. The science is on the side of GMOs being harmless. Of course, when someone argues that gay marriage will destroy the fabric of our society, remember that he too may be inventing a victim for something they consider wrong.

August 9, 2013

Vice Police in Dallas No Crime to Fight Propositions Gays for Arrest


policeLongtime Houston activist Ray Hill reports that the Houston Police Department arrested more than 20 men last week in a gay sex sting at Memorial Park, according to OutSmart Magazine:
Hill, who said he has been in contact with one of the men arrested, explained that eight to ten male vice officers dressed in Speedos and suggestive T-shirts, were along the jogging trail during daylight hours, attempting to beckon male joggers and walkers into the bushes. “[My source] tells me that one of their shirts had what resembled a chrome penis on the back, and some of the other T-shirts looked to be gay pride affiliated,” Hill said.
Hill tells OutSmart those who followed the officers into the bushes were arrested on charges of solicitation of prostitution, handcuffed and loaded into two vans parked nearby.
“We have a lesbian Mayor, a ‘gay-friendly’ police chief and a SCOTUS decision (Lawrence v Texas) finding the law against homosexual conduct unconstitutional, yet these men had to post bond, were held an illegally long period of time in Houston City Jail, they must hire lawyers, defend against the charges, some will lose their jobs and make their family lives confusing at best,” Hill wrote on Facebook. “Could someone mention this to the mayor on one of her campaign stops?”
Houston’s lesbian mayor, Annise Parker, is up for re-election in November.
OutSmart reports that it’s not the first time HPD has conducted such a sting at Memorial Park, with two similar operations netting more than 30 arrests in 2006.
“The cops are going to say they were in uniform [during these arrests],” Hill told OutSmart. “To the vice officers, this is a sport-like activity to impose on perverts — and by ‘perverts,’ I mean ‘queers.’”

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