Residents in Brighouse, west Yorkshire, are shrieking at a local charity for stapling condoms to the trees in the woods near Kirklees Lagoon, a popular cruising destination in the otherwise quiet riverside community.
Steve Kelly told the Mercury Press, “I came down with my daughter once when she was 10 and we saw a man getting spit-roasted in the trees!”
Over the years, the area has developed a reputation for being, as reporter Chris Summers at The Daily Star so eloquently puts it, “a magnet for open-air orgies involving gay men, straight couples and pervy voyeurs.”
“People come here because they know they’ll get away with it,” Kelly said. “It’s gay men, straight couples, groups, men on their own; you name it, it happens here.”
After residents suffered an uptick in cases of mycoplasma genitalium, a new STI that attacks the urinary and genital tracts, a local prevention group decided to distribute condoms labeled “I Protect Myself” in the area.
Volunteers stapled the condoms to trees near the lagoon hoping they will encourage people to actually use them.
“We are just responding to what goes on there,” the charity’s chief officer, John McKernaghan, said. “Our priority is that people practice safe sex. We are providing people with information and advice about preventing sexually transmitted infections and, particularly, HIV.”
But not everyone is happy about the condoms supposedly polluting the pristine scenery.
“We have a lot of older members who refuse to go to the lagoon now,” resident Bill Smith said. “It’s too intimidating for them, and for the ladies. People won’t walk through the forest with their children because they’re scared what they might see.”
“It’s driving people away,” Kelly added. “These people have no shame. It’s been going on for years and yet nothing is done to stop it!”
But according to local police, there is little to be done.
“It is not illegal for people to meet at sites such as the Lagoon,” Rachel Bairstow of the West Yorkshire Police said. “Where behavior may constitute a criminal offense, all reports will always be treated seriously and dealt with sensitively.”
But Kelly disagrees.
“Providing them with condoms only encourages them,” he said. “I don’t see the sense in it. Surely if they don’t put them there, they’re less likely to come back.”
With any luck, it will encourage them to be safe.