The Irony of Gary Glitter

By Guest Columnist Aug 20, 2008

by Joyce Li I’m a bit young to remember any of Gary Glitter’s actual hits, but I do remember that a funny-looking British ex-pop star was imprisoned in Vietnam three years ago, for allegedly molesting two underage girls. This morning, I found a similar peculiar story in my RSS reader: an Englishman, once famous for his music, being denied entry into Thailand due to his history with child pornography and pedophilia. Of course, this was the one and same Gary Glitter. That white male global-Northerners often jaunt to Southeast Asia to engage in exploitative sexual encounters comes as no surprise to me. What did catch my eye was that, once Thai officials detained Glitter, British officials had no power to repatriate him. This comes in startling contrast to the experiences of immigrants: detainment camps, raids, silent deportations in the night. From the Australian Times:

Glitter […] is determined to stay out of the UK. "I’m not going back to London," he said when he arrived in Thailand. "You can’t make me. I’ve done my time. I’m a free man." Thai officials declined to force Glitter back on the plane, and the British police officer escorting him admitted he had no jurisdiction to make him board the aircraft. Glitter was travelling [sic] on a passport issued by the British consulate in Ho Chi Minh City. He has the same rights as any British citizen to travel to any country that does not require a visa.

Gary Glitter’s predicament doesn’t shock me; instead, it reinforces what I already know, albeit in an unexpected manner. Non-violent undocumented immigrants in the United States and Britain will be stripped of all their rights, but a white British man convicted of a crime three times over can simply refuse a plane ticket provided for him. Update: Hong Kong has ALSO refused to let Glitter stay.