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Council gets court order to crack down on gay sex and raves in London park

Council gets court order to crack down on gay sex and raves in London park

  • Punishments include £10,000 fines and two years jail.
Burgess Park used for gay sex and cruising

A south London council has secured a court injunction to combat public sex at a popular gay cruising ground.

Southwark Council’s order also particularly targets illegal raves at Burgess Park – one of the UK capital’s biggest parks south of the River Thames.

But authorities are also responding to the park’s neighbors who say more and more gay and bi men are having sex. The park has had a long history as a cruising ground. But LGBT+ locals agree activity has increased and become more open.

Meanwhile news of the injunction has reopened a debate among users about respect and discretion. Chatting on a gay and bi men’s cruising forum, one said: ‘This place is over. As usual, the gays have spoiled by just not being able to stop or behave appropriately.’

Indeed, local publication Southwark News also claims men have become increasingly brazen about public sex. In particular, they highlighted a woman with young children who stumbled upon three men having sex in a wooded area at 8am one morning in August.

‘Fine, and up to two years in prison’

Burgess Park litter.
Southwark Council shared this picture of litter after a party in Burgess Park. Southwark Council

Despite that case, the court injunction may never have happened without another problem.

Like in many cities around the world, coronavirus restrictions have shut down organized events and nighttime venues in London. As a result, more people have started illegal raves.

Burgess Park’s neighbors have complained about live music going on until 3am.

And they have posted pictures showing the mounds of litter park users have left behind. While the majority of this is from parties and picnics, some have complained about discarded condoms and tissues.

Meanwhile local drug-dealing gangs add to the problems with the neighborhood around Burgess Park seeing multiple stabbings over the summer.

Southwark Council and police in Burgess Park.
Southwark Council and police carrying out a ‘sweep’ for weapons in Burgess Park on 31 August. Southwark Police

As a result, Southwark Council’s injunction bans amplified music, gatherings of over 20 people after 9pm, carrying a weapon and fighting – as well as sexual activity.

Council and police officers’ policy is to issue warnings first. But Southwark Council adds:

‘If people refuse to do as [officers] ask, inline with the seven terms of the injunction, they will be found in breach of a court order and in contempt of court. This could result in a fine, and up to two years in prison.’

Cruisers have confirmed this with one commenting:

‘Once again tonight the police came. This time they just flashed the lights.’

Can cruising grounds survive?

The injunction came into force on Friday (28 August) and lasts for a year.

But despite the court order, gay and bi cruisers are continuing to use Burgess Park.

However, it has prompted some to question whether cruising grounds can survive without people being discrete and cleaning up after themselves.

One Burgess Park cruiser said: ‘If people don’t start showing more consideration when cruising, there’ll be no cruising grounds left.’

Meanwhile another commented: ‘Why don’t people just be decent and clean up after fucking and none of this would of happened. This has been brought on by a few affecting as all.’

Moreover, another had a more detailed theory about why things have changed:

‘The internet, I think, has had a huge effect on how well known these secret(ish) places are.

‘This attracts more cruisers in these places. In turn it attracts more notice from the general public and councils and authorities knowing where to find info about these places online.

‘Another noticeable thing over the last 10 years or so, is how brazen men will be, in total disregard to daylight hours or families.

‘Seeing people smoke Tina [crystal meth] regularly in Burgess Park is alarming in itself. It is as if the smoker believes it’s socially acceptable (something so destructive and life changing to anyone I know who has taken it regularly).

‘Crystal meth’s prevalence in a lot of gay men’s world seems to be paramount. This attitude is a big factor as to why these cruising grounds eventually become null and void.’