Officers appeal for gay men to not put lives at risk
We urge gay and bisexual men to “have fun but play safe”
London, UK – 21 December 2020
North London police have advised the Peter Tatchell Foundation that they have received calls from members of the public regarding violations of the lockdown restrictions by gay and bisexual men cruising and having sex on Hampstead Heath. This has resulted in officers attending the Heath and issuing fixed penalty notices for lockdown breaches.
“The police have made it clear to us that they do not proactively patrol the Heath but only act in response to public complaints. Moreover, officers said they have no interest in intervening to penalise sexual behaviour in the middle of night where it is not visible to members of the public and causes no offence. Their main concern is group sexual activity that risks spreading Covid and endangering public health,” said Peter Tatchell, Director of the human rights organisation, the Peter Tatchell Foundation.
“The Peter Tatchell Foundation is pleased that the police have contacted us and other LGBT+ groups to seek our advice. We are urging gay and bisexual men to ‘play safe’: have fun but protect yourself and your partners by following the Covid lockdown rules. We also advise against having sex in circumstances where you might be seen by members of the public and cause them offence.
“We suspect contraventions of Covid regulations may be happening at other cruising areas in London and in other parts of the country. We don’t want to see gay and bisexual men breaking the rules, putting themselves and others at risk and getting fined.
We have urged the police as follows:
- Alert the LGBT+ media that there is a problem and that men who break the rules on meeting others outdoors could face fixed penalty notices, stressing that this is to protect their health and the health of the wider public.
- The police should fix notices to the above effect on trees on Hampstead Heath, so that people there are informed and aware. This is essential because many men using the Heath may be closeted and isolated from the LGBT+ community, not members of LGBT+ groups and not readers of the LGBT+ media.
- Where police action is justified and required, officers should initially give verbal warnings, then cautions and only as a last resort impose fixed penalty notices.
“We are living through a major health emergency and it is imperative that our community does what it can to limit the spread of Covid and save lives,” said Mr Tatchell.