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SCOTSGAY CENSORED BY GLASGOW LGBT CENTRE
If you have been used to picking up your monthly copy of ScotsGay in Glasgow's publicly funded LGBT Centre in Dixon Street, we regret that you are no longer able to do so. This is because the Centre has banned distribution of the magazine in their premises.
According to the Centre's Ruth Black, "We consider the sexual content of the magazine inappropriate for the Centre. We have to take into account that people as young as thirteen are using the place".
She told ScotsGay that the ban also extends to the privately run café/bar in the Centre.
The bone of contention appears to be what is claimed to be the explicit nature of some of our personal ads (tame by comparison with other publications), the fact that (in common with most LGBT publications) we carry adverts for escorts and that there are willies on the covers of some of the DVDs advertised by a licenced gay sex shop in Edinburgh.
When we asked Ms Black if young people using the Centre were entitled to the information contained in the magazine, we were rather primly informed that the Centre would provide them with information that the Centre considered appropriate. We didn't have the heart to ask about safer sex information (something which the last two issues of the magazine has carried with explicit detail).
Jamie Rennie, Chief Executive of LGBT Youth Scotland (which provides services for 13-25 year olds and has recently opened an office in the Centre) told us, "ScotsGay should not be denied to the LGBT community at large. If the Centre's management take the position that the publication is not suitable for under 16's, they should put in place suitable safeguards.We would not ban ScotsGay from any of our projects and consider it to be a valued resource for our community".
The directors of the charity which runs the LGBT Community Centre in Edinburgh (who include the publisher of ScotsGay) laughed until the tears ran down their legs at the very idea of banning the magazine, "We're a Centre for the LGBT Community - not a Children's Adventure Playground".
The LGBT Centre for Health and Wellbeing (also in Edinburgh) hosts parents' meetings at which children are present but they take place in a room which does not display ScotsGay or, for that matter, any sexual health information material. The magazine is freely available elsewhere in the Centre.
Martin Walker, editor of ScotsGay reasoned, "If ScotsGay is banned from a gay centre because of homosexual content, then all the LGBT magazines must be banned.What kind of gay community centre refuses to stock gay community publications? There are those in Glasgow that don't use the scene, because they don't drink, or use sex shops, who depend on the Centre to be an outlet for ScotsGay. Who's going to serve them?
CENTRE BACKWARDS UPDATE - 25th Jan 2007
by John Hein
Following the article in the last issue of ScotsGay, featuring the Glasgow LGBT Centre's banning of the magazine, Gordon Pike co-chair of the Centre issued the following statement:
"ScotsGay is a useful resource for the LGBT community, in terms of its listings and national coverage. Unfortunately, we are unable to continue stocking the magazine due to its adult content. The Centre is used by all sections of the community and the adult content is, by law, not deemed suitable for young people. This is not a reflection or a criticism of the general content of the magazine, simply a reflection of child protection policy and legislation. We did inform the ScotsGay staff at the beginning of 2006 that we wished to reduce the number of ScotsGay magazines delivered to the Centre as we were preparing to re-locate to new premises and were undecided as to our future plans in terms of publications available within the Centre. We have subsequently reduced the amount of magazines we received over the year. We are surprised and somewhat disappointed that Mr. Hein has responded in such a dramatic fashion. Aside from the reported telephone quote mentioned in his article, neither Mr. Hein nor any of his staff have engaged at any level with the Centre regarding this matter. If any Centre member has any view, either positive or negative on this matter, they may contact Gordon Pike (co-chair) by writing to him at: Glasgow LGBT Centre, 11 Dixon Street, Glasgow, G1 4AL."
In fact, prior to phoning Centre Manager Ruth Black for comment, I had a lengthy conversation in the Centre with one of its Directors, Alastair Smith, something of which Ruth Black was well aware. Gordon Pike manages to totally avoid the issue of the Centre's inability (or unwillingness) to control children's access to so-called adult content - something which other LGBT community projects seem to manage adequately whilst ensuring that ScotsGay is freely available to the adults who form the vast majority of their users.
Has the Centre never heard of a top shelf or "copies available on request"?
Meanwhile, daily editions of popular "newspapers" which regularly promote homophobia and sexism are freely available to pollute the minds of children of all ages on the Centre's premises.
The Centre can be contacted via the response form at http://www.glgbt.org.uk/Admin/Contactboard.php
Let us know what YOU think. Join those that have already commented on our ScotsGay MySpace blog and add your view to the range of opinions.
You can find the blog at http://www.myspace/scotsgaymagazine
CENTRE BACKWARDS UPDATE - 13th May 2007
by John Hein
The Gay Men's Health Office in the new Centre is now stocking ScotsGay. The office is open Mon-Fri 9am-5pm. GMH is totally independent of the Centre.