Gay Groups Try to Put Distance Between Themselves and Pedophile Group
WASHINGTON (AP) _ The gay community has long allowed other sexual outcasts to ride its coattails, from transvestites and transsexuals to bisexuals and leather fetishists. But it is now trying to distance itself from pedophiles.
Last month, a New York group called Stonewall 25 voted to bar the controversial North American Man-Boy Love Association from its international march on the United Nations on June 26. The demonstration will commemorate the 25th anniversary of an uprising at the Stonewall Inn, a Greenwich Village gay bar.
″Those who advocate or engage in sexual abuse of young people are not welcome in the family of gay men and lesbians who live upstanding and honorable lives,″ said Pat Norman, a co-chair of the march.
The gay community has historically been inconsistent in its response to pedophiles, leaving itself open to attack.
In January, the Senate unanimously passed an amendment, introduced by Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C., to sharply reduce funds to the United Nations unless it severs ties with the International Lesbian and Gay Association. Helms objected to the association’s relationship to NAMBLA, one of about 350 groups that belong to ILGA.
Helms said the United States was ″fast asleep at the switch″ when it joined other nations in voting last year to give consultative status to ILGA in the U.N. Economic and Social Council.
The council is a 54-nation body that studies economic and social issues and makes non-binding recommendations to the U.N. General Assembly on such topics as human rights, the status of women, population, social welfare, crime and other issues.
David Smith, a spokesman for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, a Washington lobby, accused the religious right of trying to link homosexuality to pedophilia to serve its ″twisted interests.″
″It’s very clear that every major U.S. gay leader has condemned NAMBLA and condemned groups that promote pedophilia,″ he said.
But he acknowledged disagreement among gay leaders about NAMBLA’s presence at gay events. For example, the annual gay pride march in Los Angeles excludes NAMBLA, but the marches in New York and San Francisco have allowed it to participate.
″There’s an argument in the community that if you start with excluding NAMBLA, who’s next?″ he said. ″I disagree.″
Gay leaders say ILGA is being attacked unfairly, and that the association has been trying to expel NAMBLA.
″To conflate pedophilia with homosexuality is an old, old trick,″ said Julie Dorf, executive director of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, a member of ILGA.
Hans Hjerpekjon, secretary-general of the Brussels-based ILGA, said NAMBLA joined the association about 15 years ago, when it was a loose network with no rules for admission. Hjerpekjon said many in ILGA would like to see NAMBLA expelled but the group cannot take up a resolution to oust a member until its next meeting, in July in New York.
″Under our constitution, there will have to be an 80 percent vote in favor of expelling the group,″ he said in an interview from Norway. ″And of course, that can be hard to obtain on any issue, but our intention certainly is to expell them and I am hopeful we will reach that goal.″
Hjerpekjon said ILGA has been concerned about its association with NAMBLA since the late 1980s and has urged the group to resign. In 1990, at the behest of member organizations from Scandinavia, Australia and New Zealand, ILGA adopted a resolution denouncing pedophilia, he said.
″I guess the groups, especially the Norwegian group who had been working to get this resolution passed, thought it would be self-evident that NAMBLA and people who thought likewise would resign,″ Hjerpekjon said.
But they did not.
Clinton Anderson, officer for lesbian and gay concerns at the American Psychological Association, said pedophile groups have been tolerated by the gay community because, like the public at large, many grew up hearing the stereotypes about gays ″recruiting″ children.
″I think it probably affects gay and lesbian people as much as anybody else,″ he said. But, ″I think that the gay community has come to realize that the common misconception isn’t true.″
Anderson said psychological researchers have found that convicted sexual abusers of children frequently ″cannot be characterized as having an adult sexual orientation at all.″
″Of those people who seem to have had enough experience as adults to have an adult sexual orientation in addition to pedophilia, as adults they were primarily heterosexual,″ he said.