The Portsmouth Defence – every solicitor and barrister knows the traditional defence to utilize when defending a client accused of murdering a gay man when there is no other legitimate defence available. Its name indicates that it originated in medieval times in seaports when mariners were caught on rolling/robbing their homosexual clients or victims.
It is simply this – the deceased made a pass in the form of a smile, a word or a touch, at my client. being a man he beat the pervert to death/strangled him/repeatedly stabbed him. Judges especially, juries less so, are susceptible to this defence. Sometimes killers have been acquitted, even become brief heroes, as in the George Brinham case in the 1960s when a Labour and Trade Union politician was butchered in London.
Obviously, if females, subjected to unwanted attentions, disembowelled wolf-whistlers, the male population would plummet. But judges, being men, instantly warm to the macho sentiments aroused at the notion of innocent heterosexual manhood threatened by oily homosexuals.
Fate Worse Than Death
Nowadays, acquittals would be rare, but the continued use of the Portsmouth Defence is designed to get the charge reduced from murder to manslaughter and the sentence reduced accordingly. this still works even though in every other case a murder rap would hold unless it was self-evident that had the defendant not attacked the victim his own life would have been in jeopardy. \but, to the conservative judiciary, being touched up or smiled at by a queer is a fate worse than death. It is plain that in 99% of such cases the gay victim is offering no violence at all, just checking the other guy out or using a little verbal persuasion.
A Local Crop
In the recent Addis (Portadown) and Hagan (\belfast) murder cases the victims made a suggestion through porno pics and divesting himself of his clothes respectively. \both were brutally done to death. their killers received light sentences and the Portsmouth Defence was used. this was in courts in Northern Ireland in the 1980s where the establishment continues to think of gays as less than human and their killers as less than criminals. A test case will occur soon in a trial relating to a killing in Ballymena where the Portsmouth Defence has already been used in a bail application.
It is important that the legal establishment is made aware of the new social and legal status that gays now enjoy. And that we will no longer tolerate such frequent murders. The Director of Public Prosecutions – who decides what charges to prefer – and whether to accept plea-bargaining to get a lesser charge preferred, has to take account of social change and modern literature*. If for no other reason than that, anti-gay tugs (and their homosexual counterparts), will continue to use massive violence on gay victims in the sure knowledge that the courts will see their crimes as slight!
*Attacks on Gay People by Julian Meldrum (CHE) 1977 – A comprehensive and meticulously researched casebook (Currently out of Print)
Amazon Product details
- Publisher : Campaign for Homosexual Equality (1 Aug. 1981)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 48 pages
- ISBN-10 : 095044295X
- ISBN-13 : 978-0950442952
- Wikipedia – Gay panic defense
- Gay and Trans Panic Defence Prohibition Act 2018
- Play aired in 1966 – The Portsmouth Defence
- Belfast Pride and Economics
This article was first printed in Gay Star No 10, a copy of which is held in the archive of the Linenhall Library