Stigma creates fear of reporting attacks (1995)

First Published: Thursday, 9 November 1995 

Source: The Independent
Copyright: Link to full article 

Jason Bennetto reports on Plymouth’s insular gay community in Plymouth

It is said that you can get all of Plymouth’s gay activists into two taxis. As in most of Britain’s provincial cities few homosexuals are willing to stand up and be counted.

Instead most of the city’s homosexual community prefer to restrict their public exposure to nothing more obvious than the lights of the city’s three gay and lesbian pubs and one gay club.

“The general attitude in Plymouth is one of fear and lack of confidence. Gay people are scared of stirring up homophobia and don’t want to stick their head over the parapet,” said Jonathan Madley, a social worker and one of the city’s few publicly outspoken gay men.

“If you held a gay pride rally in Plymouth about five people would turn up,” he added.

But just after midnight on Tuesday that changed. The insular world of the West Country gay community is now under the spotlight. The catalyst for change was the severely beaten bodies of two men who were found lying 200 yards apart in the city’s Central Park.

Terry Sweet, 64, died shortly after the police arrived. His attackers had slashed his genitalia and face and savagely hit him around the head. The other as yet unidentified man, who is believed to be in his 40s, has similar injuries. Last night he was still unconscious and in a critical condition in hospital.

Yesterday three men were being questioned by police. Mr Sweet lived alone and was well known within the Plymouth gay community. He had spilt with his wife several years ago.

A friend said yesterday that he had seen him alone in the park an hour before he died. The man added that Mr Sweet often cut through the park to go home after the pubs closed and did not go there for sex.

Read the full article on the Independent website

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