Homophobia still seen as a 'respectable prejudice' ?

Angelique Chrisafis in the Guardian today takes a look at the increasing levels of violence and harassment faced by members of the Gay and Lesbian community in Northern Ireland. An estimated five homophobic murders in the past six years and homophobic incidents increased by 300% in the past year in Derry, “now dubbed the “gay bashing capital” of Northern Ireland.” Gays and lesbians under siege as violence and harassment soar in Northern Ireland .

The article looks at some examples across the province ranging from spur of the moment to persistant and planned attacks, with mass cards being sent in some cases and evidence of paramilitary involvement.

One reason for the rise in the number of recorded homophobic attacks is the gay community’s growing confidence in reporting abuse to the police. Community groups and police are working to increase this. But campaigners also say attacks are becoming more common and brutal.

The gay scene is growing. Belfast’s Gay Pride march is in its 15th year and every summer it files politely past the religious protesters with their megaphones.

But parliament’s Northern Ireland affairs committee has warned that if the government and police do not improve their handling of the “rising tide” of homophobic, racist and sectarian attacks in the province, “hate crime may spiral out of control with extremely serious consequences for the pace of social improvement”.

Police clearance rates for homophobic crime stand at 22.5%, which the committee of MPs found “unacceptably low”.

James Knox of Belfast’s Coalition on Sexual Orientation said the violence was a product of the post-Troubles society. “The Catholic-Protestant situation is starting to minimise and people are just looking for another excuse to have a go at somebody else,” he said. “Ethnic minorities, people with disabilities, gays and lesbians are easy targets.”

It looks like the silver lining of the reduction of troubles-linked violence has a cloud attached to it. And sadly I suspect that many of our politicians who complain about attitudes which led to campaigns such as “Save Ulster from Sodomy” are not terribly interested in the welfare of our gay fellow Irishmen and Irishwomen.

  • garret

    I am only talking about whether a world in which such a choice would be possible would be better than one in which it is not. I am sure that if the choice were possible then it should be made available.

    You said:

    “But I still believe that the whole idea that that choice would be good is distasteful, at best. I could perhaps understand it if we were talking about poor eyesight, congenital disease, or some other disorder. I don’t accept that sexual orientation is a disorder, or worthy of spending any money on attempting to “correct”.”

    That is why I concluded:

    “But you believe in denying the choice of others to change if it were possible for them to do so.”

  • Dr Snuggles

    I am only talking about whether a world in which such a choice would be possible would be better than one in which it is not.

    I totally and utterly disagree. Why you believe such a world would be better, I cannot fathom.

    As I have already pointed out, you could equally argue that parents should be able to select the skin colour of their children. You can’t seriously think that that would be “better”.

    Your vision of a world where people can select the genetic characteristics of their children is frightening. Should parents be able to select the gender of their children on demand as well?

    Once again, how do you propose that we get to a point where this change is possible? Are you happy for your tax money to go into research for a way to “straighten” gay people?

  • garret

    Dr Snuggles, if you don’t mind I think I will leave the discussion there. I think that we have got to a point where it would start to get repeatitive and I don’t want to do that or say anything more, other than to thank you for the discourse.

  • Dr Snuggles

    OK Garret, thanks to you too. I agree that we are going round in circles somewhat now.

    I don’t think we’ll ever agree on this specific issue, but we certainly have much more in common than not. If you were here, I’d like to shake your hand and buy you a pint (if you touch the stuff, that is).


  • garret

    Likewise. I would buy you one back 🙂

  • 6countyprod

    Dr Snuggles,

    I guess that, by the current definition of homophobia, God and the Apostle Paul are homophobes, par excellence. (Romans 1.18-32).

  • Dr Snuggles


    The meaning of the passage you cite hinges on the translation of the word “arsenokoitai”.

    There is no reason to retain the understanding of “arsenokoitai” as referring to male homosexuals in general. First of all, there is a significant doubt that Paul would have known of a term for “homosexual,” in our contemporary usage. No other ancient language had such a term, and the earliest Greek writers used a wide variety of constructions to render a
    similar idea.

    It might be argued that Paul was only concerned with a particular sexual behavior. There is no evidence that Paul condemned anal intercourse between men and women or between men, or that he saw physical affection between males as something to be avoided.

    Reading arsenokoitai as “homosexuals” is an example of eisegesis. Homophobes who want to find condemnations of homosexuals in the Bible are capable of reading their prejudice into any given passage, just as their predecessors were capable of finding abundant encouragement for anti-Semitism and racism in the Bible.

    Do we now read the “mark of Cain” as black skin, as many American preachers in the past did?

    1 Peter 2:18 says “Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.” What’s your position on slavery, 6countyprod?

  • Baluba

    isn’t it amazing how everyone reads the bible differently and accepts all of its contradictions and then tries to add others.

    The only thing of worth in the bible is the same message that exists in the Koran and in Hindu and Buddhist teaching: respect for self and respect for others.

    This applies to everyone no matter what sexual orientation, colour of skin, and even vegetarians (boo!).