Port Trial highlights the importance of online and chemsex safety

Published: 06 October 2016 Tags: online dating, trial, chemsex By John Walding

The trial of Stephen Port started this week, and some details of the case may concern members of the LGBT community who use online dating and/or are involved in chemsex. LGBT Foundation can offer support to people affected by this case via our helpline and other support services. It’s always worth reminding ourselves of the importance of staying safe when it comes to online dating and chemsex.

Port is accused of giving lethal doses of the popular chemsex drug GHB to four men he met through online dating sites. In addition, he has been charged with an additional 17 sexual offences against 8 more men between 2011 to 2015. The details of the case are likely to further fuel public interest in current sexual practices in the gay and bisexual men’s community.

It is important that the Port trial is understood as an exceptional case of an individual using online dating and chemsex as a pretext to cause harm to his victims. However, it does highlight safety issues around chemsex and the use of dating apps and consent.

There’s no doubt that online dating apps have transformed the way we all meet new people, whatever our sexual orientation. However, the Port case hammers home the importance of taking certain steps to make sure you stay safe when hooking up with someone you meet online. These include arrangingto meet somewhere public in the first instance, chat, and get a sense of them. Tell a friend or family member about your planned meeting and the address you are going to. Also agree catch up times so that they know when to worry if they haven’t heard from you.

Chemsex may not be for everyone but for some it can offer attractions. However it’s essential to consider the pros as well as the cons, and safeguard against the potential risks by taking responsibility for your own safety. Some precautions include:

· Have plenty of condoms, lube and gloves (if you are fisting) to hand. You can pick up LGBT Foundation’s safer sex packs from LGBT venues across Greater Manchester or pop into our community centre on Richmond Street in Manchester.

· If you are planning on slamming, use a new needle and syringe each time and don’t share them. These can be obtained from needle exchanges, who can also provide advice on safer injecting practice.

· Make sure you’re informed about the risks of the drugs you will take and their after effects. This will help you plan how to manage them. For example, G is extremely easy to overdose on and you need to measure the dose properly, using a syringe or measure dropper. You also need to keep a track of the time between doses and should not dose again within three hours. One way of doing this may be to use a time on your phone. Also it’s important to remember that G should never be mixed with alcohol and ketamine.

· At parties, it is important to look out for the wellbeing of the other people there. It can be easy to overdose on GHB because a small amount of liquid can significantly change the dose taken. If someone becomes unconscious then check they are breathing, place them in the recovery position and call an ambulance. It is also very important to have clear consent for each sexual act as being at a sex party never implies consent.

Our helpline team are on hand to provide information, advice and support on these and any other issues raised by the case: call us on 0345 3 30 30 30. Survivors Manchester offers support to male victims of sexual abuse and rape, and can be contacted on 0161 236 2182 or through their website www.survivorsmanchester.org.uk.