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The rights of minorities to flout the law yet still claim its protection while doing so, took a giant leap forward this week when four firefighters were reprimanded and heavily fined after disturbing an illegal outdoor gay sex romp.
The crew were travelling past a notorious common at Circular Road in Bristol popular with gay men and "doggers" when they shone their torches from the engine into bushes and interrupted four men involved in a gay sex act - apparently one man was masturbating (he called it "pleasuring himself") while the others watched. God, how inventive and imaginative can you get. It must be great, being gay.

Nothing wrong with that!
Nothing wrong at all
perfectly natural

Avon Fire and Rescue Service say they take allegations of homophobia 'very seriously', and the firefighters were suspended on full pay during a three month investigation. Two were fined up to 1,000, one was demoted in rank and the other given a written warning. They have all been ordered to attend an equality course and the fines will be donated to a gay-rights charity. They have also been transferred to other stations.
The gay man who made the complaint did not want the police involved, for obvious reasons. The police have not intervened because nobody complained to them - and these days it's probably more than their job's worth to actually take any kind of initiative, particularly where a minority is concerned.
So there you have it, really. If you and your girlfriend were getting it on in the back seat in a carpark one night, you'd probably be arrested in short order, but gay men can do any dirty thing they like in public and that's OK. And firemen, not being members of any kind of minority, are not protected by the law at all. There are laws, for instance, about discrimination in the workplace. There are laws about workplace bullying. But they didn't stop Avon Fire and Rescue Service from taking it on themselves to act as judge, jury and executioner, and the poor devils' union was apparently powerless to intervene. The Service was even prepared to pontificate about the law - a spokesman said "Our investigation revealed no evidence of criminal conduct by members of the public "

Looks a bit gay to me, if I'm honest

Years ago when the GOS was a union member, the men's colleagues would have walked out to support them. Nowadays they're probably all too busy attending Avon Fire and Rescue Service's flagship event, an exciting and cutting-edge debate entitled "Lesbians, Gays, Bi-sexuals and Transgender Equality in the Fire Service - an absolute taboo?"
But what of the gay men? What was going through their heads (and no dirty jokes about "some other bloke's c*ck", if you please)? They'd gone to a site well-known for dogging in order, presumably, to do some er dogging. And dogging is having sex in a public place, with the added thrill that people might come along and see. Indeed, sometimes those people stand and watch, or even join in.
But these particular gay men didn't want just anyone to come along and see them. They were having what passes among these people for sex, in a public place where it was only natural to expect that others would come along and watch, but when someone did - and shone a great big torch on them so everyone could see much better - they didn't like it? How does that work, exactly?
oh, I get it! You have sex in a public place so complete strangers can watch, but you only want gay strangers! If a lorry-load of straight firemen come along, they're supposed to what, not notice? They should drive along through this well-known dogging spot, saying excitedly to each other "Hey, look, there's some! Over there, near the toilet! What are they ? Oh no, they're all men! Quick, don't look!"
Perhaps you'd like some system of ensuring that only gay strangers stumble across gay sex in a public place, and straight strangers have to go somewhere else to look at women's bottoms? You could have stewards, directing traffic: "Good evening, sir, and what are you looking for this fine evening? Yes, I know you're hoping to see a bit of sexy action, sir, but you're required to be more specific otherwise you may inadvertently cause offence to someone with his trousers round his ankles. So, can I ask, were you hoping to spy on women, or men? Or both? No sir, I'm afraid we don't have any sheep. You'll need to go a bit further north for that, up the M5 and turn left over that big bridge ."
Naturally enough the "political-correctness-gone-mad" brigade (with whom we have the greatest sympathy, although we studiously avoid using such a naff expression ourselves) have had a field day with this story, but the fact is that the gay men were not actually committing a crime. If they'd been doing er whatever it is that gay men do in a public toilet, that would have been another matter, but outside a public toilet they're OK unless someone makes a complaint.
Once a complaint has been made to the police, then we understand the police are obliged to assume that an offence has been committed and investigate accordingly.
So really those four silly firemen have been very stupid indeed. All they had to do was make a complaint of their own, and the whole affair would have gone very differently


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