No Irish, no blacks, no gays? No thanks.

09Jan07

No blacks, no Irish, no dogsAn item on the Today programme* got my blood boiling this morning – and unusually it wasn’t Thought For The Day (well, it might have been annoying, but I had my head under the shower at the time, so I don’t know).

Angela Eagle MP and Lord MacKay were asked on to talk about the Northern Ireland legislation to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation in the provision of goods and services. Religious groups have organised a demonstration tonight outside Parliament to protest against the bill becoming law in England and Wales. To be clear, this is a bill that stops discrimination (it doesn’t promote anything), that means you can’t put a “No gays” sign in the window of your shop. It means you can’t refuse to allow a gay person into your bar or refuse to take a booking for a civil partnership ceremony if you also do heterosexual ceremonies. It also means that gay clubs can no longer refuse entrance to straights, which is an example you don’t hear so much about. And, the one example that every opponent of this bill has mentioned so far, if you own a B&B, you can’t refuse to allow a gay couple to share a double room.

This, to me, is the critical point. The opponents of this bill mostly oppose it on religious grounds. They claim that it is discrimination against the religious (by which they mean “people who hold religious beliefs that say homosexuality is wrong, bad and sinful”) and limits their rights to live according to their religious beliefs. However, the “double bed” scenario shows that their objection is less about equality and more about disgust: disgust at the idea of gay people doing things, i.e. having sex, with no shame or sense of guilt. The usual eliding of homosexuality and paedophilia which is routinely indulged in by fundamentalist religious groups is brought up again (“There is more to consider here than just the rights of gays where the owners [sic] young children may be routinely on the premises” – richard, belfast, BBC’s Have Your Say) to justify a position that is based entirely on homophobia.


Polly Toynbee points out in the Guardian that religious groups are taking over more and more social services, a situation that the government seems willing to allow as long it relieves the financial pressure on the Exchequer. It is even more important therefore that they are forbidden by law from discriminating against people whose choices and lives don’t fit faith groups’ narrow standards.

When talking about homosexuality, the evangelical Christians I used to know loved to say “Love the sinner, hate the sin”, as though this phrase washed away any hint of homophobia. This made me so angry that I once walked out of a church group, telling them that I could no longer tolerate listening to such bigotry (this was back in the days when many of my friends had suddenly become evangelical Christians, having been fairly apathetic CofE before, and I wanted to know what the fuss was about). I am still proud of that moment.

The evangelical Christians I met were kind, welcoming, lovely people, but with religious blinkers that stopped them from thinking too hard about some of their less tolerant beliefs. I wanted to put their principles into practice, albeit with an atheist spin: love the believer, hate the bigotry. “Love the sinner, hate the sin” is a mealy-mouthed way of covering your fear and intolerance by pretending some kind of acceptance. How can you love someone when you freely admit you hate something so fundamental as their sexual orientation? It’s holding out the carrot of acceptance while all the time tapping the stick of intolerance against your hand. The threat is implicit: All you have to do is change who you are – then we’ll love you. Just don’t slip and sin again, or you’ll be cast out into the wilderness. As spine-chilling phrases go, it’s right up there with “The innocent have nothing to fear”.

If the radical Jesus of the New Testament was around now, the man who hung out with the outcasts, the prostitutes and the tax collectors, I think I know which side he’d be on. A man who said “Love thy neighbour as thyself” wouldn’t look kindly on those who turn away people whose only crime was to love the “wrong” kind of consenting adult and who want their right to judge, humiliate, threaten and bully people for the way they live to be enshrined in law. There are plenty of gay believers out there in all faiths, as well as those who are not gay but do not support such limited, bigoted thinking. They should not be tarred with the same brush as the extremists.

As Eagle said this morning, this bill gives rights to gay people that have long been afforded to women, people of colour and religious believers themselves. She called it “right, proper and moderate”. You no longer see the signs that were supposedly a common sight in B&B windows: No Blacks, no Irish. It is long past time to extend protection from that kind of ugliness to gay and lesbian people.

It’s not often you have occasion to thank the House of Lords, but tonight this challenge has failed by three to one. It’s a good day for tolerance.

*Real Player required.

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4 Responses to “No Irish, no blacks, no gays? No thanks.”

  1. So, tolerance means accepting whatever behavior your fellow man perpetrates as long as it does no damage to another person or their property. Pretty broad, but workable.

    Those who choose to participate in sexual activity of the homosexual type must certainly be included in this umbrella of tolerance definition because?

    More to the point..the fact that you engage in this fairly rare and deviant sexual behavior (this becomes anybody elses business only when you tell them) entitles you to special protection and special rights because…?

    And why are those who want to marry a couple of husbands or wives not included in the special dispensation offered those with publicly announced sexual proclivities of the homosexual type?

    Recognizing all human activity as being a series of choices, do homosexuals participate in this way to reach sexual gratification with self determination and a sense of personal responsibility or are these not choices, but slavish compulsions?

    We all recognize that if homosexuality involves anything but unplanned, hardwired, decisionless urges to act in a certain way instead of a conscious, planned action of a thinking feeling person, then the homosexual victim status being sought dies on the vine, and with that, the kneejerk defense of them.

    Dont bother responding. I’ve heard “homophobe” and “bigot” till im blue in the face. Funny how “brilliant enlightened thinkers” shrivel up into bomb throwing, name calling children when confronted with a different world view, especially those who have positioned themselves as righteous defenders of the faith of victimhood.

  2. icanplainlysee, thank you for commenting on my blog. You’re the first person to do so, and for that I thank you. It’s a shame you told me not to bother responding.

    Contrary to what you say, homosexuality is not particularly rare (when Kinsey first quantified it back in 1948, 13% of men he surveyed were mostly or exclusively gay for at least three years). Homosexuality has been regularly recorded in animals, so it can hardly be considered unnatural.

    I don’t believe this law enshrines “victimhood” any more than any of the other anti-discrimination laws currently on the books. It doesn’t allow gay people special rights and protection – it merely guarantees that they have access to the same goods and services that heterosexual people do. That seems to me to be a good thing.

  3. Dear Girl,
    Congrats on your first response. lol

    My statement about not responding only reflected my previous experience, which was usually shrill, whiny and abrupt, sprinkled with denial and a total lack of response to my comments. “Troll” was the only repeatable name I’ve been called.

    I’m probably much older than you and I’ve been witness to the politically active gay lobby working for decades, chipping away at public opinion, steadily influencing otherwise contrary elements to accept their agenda. Only a few decades ago, homosexuals didn’t announce themselves, the laid low. Gays didn’t demand anything, they usurped and slowly were given credence. Private companies, in fear of profits diminishing, embarrassment and mostly threatened extortion, kind of like Jesse Jackson does, paid homage to the radical gay agenda and altered the normal course of business. Not elected legislators mind you,but people with money at stake.

    Now, after many failed trial balloons, radical gays want to change the definition of marriage, as though it’s no big deal to alter western society to fit the desires of a very few. I think the whole point is to destroy marriage just as radical feminists want to destroy the family.

    Call me a conservative in matters of family and marriage because that’s what I am.

    I realize that using the courts to manipulate the law is tried by many. That method to alter a democracy with elected officials should always fail. Sadly, it doesn’t always.

    Im sure subjects will arise that we agree upon and I look forward to debating those we do not.

    Congrats on your new blog! I know the hard work involved.

    Sincerely, Hank

  4. Hey There. I found your blog using msn. This is a really
    well written article. I will be sure to bookmark it and come
    back to read more of your useful information.
    Thanks for the post. I will certainly comeback.


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