Updated: Occupy London protesters could ‘vaporise’ gay cruising on Hampstead Heath

Stephen Gray June 14, 2012
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A group of anti-capitalist Occupy London protesters took up residence on Hampstead Heath this week and defended the camp, saying it would improve the area by driving out the men who meet there for sex.

Having been removed from their central London spot outside St Paul’s Cathedral, a group of anti-capitalists made camp on the north London Heath, Hampstead & Highgate Express reported.

Timothy Sullivan, a 46-year-old protester, responded to potential objections to the group’s presence by saying they would improve safety by deterring gay cruising on the Heath.

He told the paper: “We could vaporise that problem just being here and let people enjoy their open space again.”

But of the Occupy London protesters, one nature enthusiast said: “If you get 10, you get 50, then you get 500, then it can becomes a bit of a disaster. You have got to think about sanitary issues and also where are they going to put their garbage?”

A spokesman for the City of London Corporation, which is responsible for the Heath’s management, said: “As the best piece of heavily-used urban green space near to the heart of any global metropolis, Hampstead Heath is no stranger to this issue and the bylaws are very clear – no camping. Full stop.”

Plans to remove the tents were not confirmed by the City of London Corporation, over whose control over the Heath Occupy London are protesting.

Update at 16:52:

Ronan McNern, member of the Occupy London press team and co-founder of the LGBTQI anti-cuts collective Queer Resistance, told this afternoon: “I was furious when I saw these comments, which are not representative of Occupy London, and against our own Safer Spaces Policy, which is very clear: ‘Racism, as well as ageism, homophobia, sexism, transphobia, ableism or prejudice based on ethnicity, nationality, class, gender, gender presentation, language ability, asylum status or religious affiliation is unacceptable and will be challenged.’

“These comments are not representative of Occupy London. Occupy is made up of individuals and these are the comments of an individual – comments that run contrary to positions decided by Occupy in its very earliest days and remain at the core of how we relate to and show respect for one another.

“I will be speaking with [Timothy Sullivan] personally (have left a voicemail with him), as I know will others. Having met and chatted with him briefly I thought he was a good guy and I was very surprised to hear these comments. There is the potential that the words reported weren’t exactly what he meant to say, but whatever the case he will be spoken with so that he gains a clearer understanding of the history of Hampstead Heath, the fight for gay/queer rights and the stigma that has had to be overcome (and still continues).

“I’ve heard that other members of the Occupy Nomad camp have already expressed serious concerns regarding these comments. As a movement, it is essential that we challenge the language and assumptions that appear to have been made in the comments that appeared in the article – while Occupy is open to all, it is not open to all behaviours.”

More: cruising, cruising spot, gay cruising, gay cruising areas, hampstead heath, London, London, Occupy

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