A London court ruled that the performance of a song referring to gay men as “fairy” and “fag” outside the home of a gay couple is not abusive.
Nick Fiveash and his male partner, from east London, alleged that their neighbours performed the song in a bid to offend them following a row.
Lyrics to the song, which Mr Fiveash captured on his phone, include the lines: “Well you are a fairy, you’re friends call you Mary / You spend time in jail but you don’t find it scary / Cos that’s what you do when you are a fairy fairy fairy.”
Judges at Stratford Magistrate’s Court unanimously ruled the song was not offensive, saying the lyrics should be taken as “satire”.
The furious couple have criticised the judges for “unconscious homophobia” and have now been backed by a prominent Labour MP.
The couple, who have lived in the home for 15 years, say they had never before had a dispute with their neighbours, and the new neighbours had only moved in recently.
According to Mr Fiveash, the situation erupted when he complained to the neighbours about noise levels in August 2016.
The neighbours, Olivia Still and her partner Nick Stott, known as Oak World Music, were alleged to have said “they’re gonna love this” before singing to a Mark Silverman song with the words “queer”, “fairy” and “fag” in the aftermath of the row.
After a disagreement over the content of the song, Mr Fiveash recorded the neighbours singing along to the song from his window, with the neighbours heard saying, “They’re at the window” as they spotted him listening.
The opening verse to the controversial song goes:
“Cos you like to watch Broadway plays / That’s what you do when you’re gay
“And you are a queer you have been for years / Your Christian Conservatives [Inaudible]
“You always drink wine and never drink beer / Cos that’s what you do when you’re queer
“Yeah that’s what you do when you’re queer”.
Mr Fiveash says that he challenged neighbour, Ms Still, on the lyrics, saying that he found them offensive as a gay man.
However she argued that they lyrics were not insulting to gay people, and insisted that the end of the song included a twist that the singer admits to also having sex with other men.
On 26 June three magistrates found Ms Still and Mr Stott ‘not guilty’ of the charge of “using threatening, abusive, and insulting words to cause alarm and distress” as they concluded the song was ‘satirical’ and not ‘homophobic’.
The stunned gay couple say the experience caused them great anguish and they live in fear that it could be repeated.
They and are now demanding the case be re-opened – saying the not guilty ruling highlights unconscious homophobia in the legal system.
Mr Fiveash, who runs his own PR firm, told PinkNews: “If my neighbours had been singing a racially or religiously obscene song, I can’t imagine anyone tolerating that.
“Ignoring this seems to highlight the fact that the magistrates themselves suffer from a conscious or unconscious homophobia.
“Surely a magistrate must free himself of prejudice and partiality and so conduct himself, in court and out of it, as to give no ground for doubting his ability and willingness to decide cases coming before him solely on their legal and factual merits, as they appear to him in the exercise of an objective, independent and impartial judgment.”
He added: “We’ve lived in our house for over 15 years peacefully, safe and friendly with all our neighbours.
“This has been a horrific event and even though we were fortunate not to be physically hurt, the mental stress has been unbearable.
“We live next door in a terraced house to these people and see and hear them every day.”
Now the couple’s MP, Labour’s Rushanara Ali, has intervened in the case – saying she too feels the incident was homophobia.
Ms Ali has called for the case to be reconsidered in a letter to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).
The Bethnal Green and Bow politician told PinkNews: “It is disappointing that Mr Fiveash’s case has not reached a satisfactory conclusion.
“It is vital these types of incidents are taken seriously and homophobic and discriminatory behaviour do not go unchallenged and unpunished.
“I am still waiting for an explanation from the Crown Prosecution Service about their decision after I wrote to them on Mr Fiveash’s behalf in July.
“My constituency is a diverse place with people from many different backgrounds living in the area.
“We are proud of that diversity, but it is paramount that the authorities take hate crimes of all forms including homophobic abuse seriously if we are to ensure we maintain an atmosphere of civility and mutual respect.”
The CPS has refused to support an appeal for the case.
In a letter to Mr Fiveash, they wrote: “Where there is any doubt whatsoever, they must find in the defendant not guilty.
“This does not mean that they accepted the defendants’ accounts or that you were not believed.
“I note that you are concerned about the magistrates’ reference to the song being ‘satirical’ which you have looked up to mean ‘stupidity’ or a ‘vice’.
“The prosecutor’s written endorsement of the decision states that that they made this comment in the context that they had seen a statement from the author of the song
confirming that the song was intended to be satirical.
“Magistrates are holders of independent judicial office.”
The song lyrics (with commentary) in full:
Cos you like to watch Broadway plays
That’s what you do when you’re gay
And you are a queer you have been for years
Your Christian Conservatives ….
You always drink wine and never drink beer
Cos that’s what you do when you’re queer
Yea that’s what you do when you’re queer
And I am a straight and my life is great
And I think of women when I masturbate
And I take the women bowling when out on a date
Cos that’s what you do when you’re straight
Yea what you do when you’re straight
And I am a heterosexual man
I like to watch football and eat lots of spam
I fart and I curse and ….
Cos that’s what you do when you are a heterosexual man
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Well you are a fairy, you’re friends call you Mary
You spend time in jail but you don’t find it scary
Cos that’s what you do when you are a fairy fairy fairy
Well you are a fag you dress up in drag
You like to wear dresses
(1’39” – Olivia: “They’re gonna love this!” laughs)
and carry a bag
You knit and you sew, you tie things with bows
Cos that’s what you do
When you are a fag fag fag fag fag
Well …. (laughter)
(1”57’ – Olivia: laughing and saying “They’re at the window”)
Well let me be frank you’re a good friend of mine
I’ve had some beers and you’ve had some wine
I’ve got a secret that I’m ready to tell
I’m ….. not doing that well
(2’20” – Olivia sings: “Cos you like a bit of the bum as well”)
You want to hug me and hold my hand
And I’ll think that’s gross but I’ll understand
I’m not ….in the sexuality,
To let you have all kinds of gay sex with me
Cos that’s what you when you’re drunk
Yea that’s what you do when you’re drunk
That’s what I do when sex is overdue
Usually just on the weekends
Usually just the guys I’ve met on the Internet
Usually just when I’m drunk.