Gay News

In March 1972 the Gay Liberation Front met with the group planning to launch a new publication:

'GLF members who went to the discussion were worried about the radicalism of the paper, since it's meant to be open to all sorts of gay's or other's views, wouldn't it be liberal, evasive, unpolitical? The individuals from the collective answered that the act of bringing out a paper called Gay News is itself political, since it will be on bookstalls etc; it will want to carry personal ads, at present the subject of a House of Lords case involving International Times (IT). The features will on in depth into the behaviour of institutions etc. that affect us as - gays the Samaritans, prisons, churches etc'.

Gay News was launched later in 1972 and continued to circulate until 1983. When it was first launched other gay presses were the platform publications of political groups: Come Together was the mouthpiece of the GLF and Gay International News its forum. Lunch was produced by the Campaign for Homosexual Equality; and SMG News was produced by the Scottish Minorities Group. Gay News provided an alternative eclectic publication produced by, for and about gay men and women.

Like International Times and Oz, Gay News faced censorship trials. In 1974 it successfully challenged an obscenity charge, provoked by a cover photograph of a male couple kissing, but in July 1977 the paper and its editor were found guilty of blasphemous libel in the first case of its kind for more than 50 years.

The case was brought as a private prosecution by Mary Whitehouse, an unofficial but influential watchdog for taste and decency in the media. Whitehouse objected to the paper's publication of The Love that Dares to Speak its Name, a poem by James Kirkup, which sexualised the body of Christ at the crucifixion.

The editor was given a nine month suspended jail sentence and a £500 fine and Gay News was fined £1000 and made to pay £10000 in court costs. They appealed against the decision in 1978 but the convictions were upheld. The trial provoked a backlash; many denounced the verdict and Gay News' readership grew from 8000 to 40,000.