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Thursday, 6 July, 2000, 16:29 GMT 17:29 UK
Gay groups claim court victory
Supreme courts sign
The case was due to be heard by Lord Marnoch
A nurse has dropped her legal battle to ban Glasgow City Council from allegedly promoting homosexuality through funding of gay groups.

Sheena Strain has withdrawn a bid to win a ruling against the local authority after lawyers acting for both sides drafted a covering letter to accompany grants to be paid out.

The letter to grant-aided organisations states: "You will not spend these monies for the purpose of promoting homosexuality nor shall they be used for the publication of any material which promotes homosexuality."

After the compromise was reached at the Court of Session in Edinburgh gay groups who have had their funding frozen, following an earlier undertaking given by the council in the face of legal action, hailed it as a victory.

'Vindication'

Charlie McMillan, chief executive of Phace West, said: "I am absolutely delighted at the outcome. Mrs Strain has completely backed off and walked away from a case she knew she could not win."

He said: "It is outrageous we have had to go through this process. We have been vindicated because the letter that was agreed is nothing the we don't do already."

Lord Marnoch, who was due to hear the action, awarded costs to a consortium of gay groups who had instructed lawyers to appear in the case to defend their interests.

The costs, which will have to be met by Mrs Strain, are estimated to be 7,000.

Glasgow City Council offices
The council denied it had broken the law
Mungo Bovey QC said that in moving for the expenses on behalf of the gay organisations he understood Mrs Strain was in fact funded by a third party.

The Newcastle-based pressure group, the Christian Institute, is thought to have funded the case brought by Mrs Strain, of Govanhill, in Glasgow.

Mr McMillan said after the brief court appearance: "I am utterly delighted that the judge awarded costs against Mrs Strain and I think that is the proof of the pudding."

Mrs Strain had earlier initiated court action against Glasgow City Council as a council tax payer claiming it was acting contrary to Section 28 by promoting homosexuality through funding and subsidies.

She said that over three years Phace received 140,729 from the local authority and claimed the organisation was involved in the production and distribution of "a pornographic booklet" called Gay Sex Now.

She alleged the publication "actively promotes homosexuality as a desirable way of life" and contained graphic depictions of homosexual acts.

Denied promoting homosexuality

Mrs Strain said the council had seconded an employee to the Glasgow Gay and Lesbian Centre and alleged the centre actively promoted homosexuality as a way of life.

She also said the council had breached the ban on promoting homosexuality by giving support to Bi-G-Les (Bisexual-Gay-Lesbian), which she said was a youth group encouraging young people to be openly homosexual.

In the last financial year the council gave pounds 11,992 to the West of Scotland Lesbian and Gay Forum which she claimed was set up to apply for local authority funding and to make money available to other gay community organisations.

The council had been set to defend the judicial review brought by Mrs Strain and said that the principal activity of Phace was providing services to HIV and Aids sufferers and their carers.

It said its funding of the group helped in the prevention of the spread of the disease and denied promoting homosexuality.

The council said that at all times it complied with Section 28 and pointed out that the Scottish parliament has passed the Ethical Standards in Public Life (Scotland) Bill which will repeal the measure.

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See also:

14 May 00 | Scotland
Council halts gay group cash
21 Jun 00 | Scotland
MSPs abolish Section 28
17 Jun 00 | Scotland
Campaigners hail S28 climbdown
25 Feb 00 | Scotland
Police investigate gay website
12 May 00 | Scotland
S28 move 'eases' teachers minds
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