PRINT Summer 1990


Pseudologia Fantastica

THE SPRING OF 1990 has seen the most serious prison riots in Britain this century. Throughout the early stages of the rioting, at Strangeways jail in Manchester, British press coverage was distinguished by lurid accounts of murders and acts of torture, including castrations, alleged to have been committed by rioting prisoners on an estimated 20 men housed in isolation under U.K. prison Rule 43, which segregates “sex offenders” from the rest of the prison population for their own protection. These “sex offenders” include HIV-positive men, who are considered vulnerable to physical violence, and other men imprisoned for crimes against the archaic British Age of Consent laws—“crimes” that do not exist for British heterosexuals. Thus gay men in the U.K. cannot legally have sex until the age of 21, while the age of consent for everyone else is 16. Nor are these laws merely symbolic. In 1988, in

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