Assembly to be sidelined in rights debate?

In advance of what could be a heated debate next Monday when two Unionist MLA’s lay the motion the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations (NI) 2006 “be determined by the NI Assembly upon restoration”, Catriona Ruane clearly anticipates something of a parliamentary fist fight (a continuation of the Question Time ruck?)

“This motion from the DUP is clearly homophobic in intention and retrograde in nature because the outlawing of discrimination in good and services against people because of their sexual orientation should be a shared objective. The gay and lesbian community need legislation to protect their rights because in significant and important areas there do not enjoy the same legal protections as everyone else and this is totally unacceptable.

Well, one (wo)man’s homophobia is another man’s Christian values. Clearly Ruane is clearly not confident that the provisions would receive sufficient party support were it to fall to any future Stormont legislature to do the deal. In effect, Sinn Fein is backing Westminster’s plan to fast track this legislation in Northern Ireland well in advance of any similar legislation in Britain. Indeed it is not yet clear whether there is any serious intention to bring such far reaching provisions to the UK statute book.

This is perhaps one measure that will pass precisely because we don’t have a local democracy with or without teeth.

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  • Ian

    The DUP are demonstrating yet again the social cultural gulf between the people of NI and of mainland Britain. Another own goal.

    Also, they want exemptions to allow churches and religious organisations to practice discrimination with impunity. And they have the cheek to ask for rates relief (i.e. taxpayer subsidy) for Orange Halls!

  • Oilibhear Chromaill

    The DUP don’t see the trap they’ve walked into. If they continue to stall the peace process, direct rule continues and that means that Westminster decides on issues, unpalatable to the DUP but demanded by normal civilised society, such as the above mentioned legislation to cut out as much as possible discrimination against people on the grounds of their sexual orientation and the introduction of an Irish language act. These will be enacted.
    In order to avoid this, they have the opportunity to get Stormont up in running again and reclaim these devolved matters under the Sewell Convention.
    That still leaves the DUP as the stone in the shoe of northern society, trying to stop us moving forward. The demands for fair treatment as mentioned above will be maintained and the DUP will sooner or later be housetrained.

  • Henke

    It’s high time NI was dragged-up to the standards required by the modern UK unionists profess to cherish so much.

    Ideally I’d like to live in a United Ireland utopia with comely maidens dancing at the cross-roads. However, as that’s not going to happen tomorrow or the next day, I want to start reaping the full benefits of British liberal democracy.

    So an end to discrimination (esp homophobic bias as this seems to be a ‘respectable’ form of b1g0try in some quarters), lower the age of consent, standardise abortion provision, and liberalise licensing hours for a start.

    Hopefully the day of the swing-chainers is passing and a by-product of the new councils will be to raise the democratic bar, and standards expected of our councillors. If the religious cranks on, say, Ballymena Council, have to appeal beyond the handful of personal votes that they need at present, they might chose to act a little more responsibly.

  • Wilde Rover

    As a citizen of the Republic I am delighted that eight out of ten of my fellow citizens are in favour of civil rights for same-sex relationships.

    And to the north, the DUP want hoteliers to have the right to refuse people for looking a bit queer.

    Sounds like the same sort of guff the papists (back when a large percentage of people used to be papists, that is) used to rant on about pre-90s.

    No wonder more and more English people want to ditch the Union Flag. This is the sort of thing that would make any reasonable European cringe.

  • Percypig

    Wonder if Paul Berry will participate in the debate…

    The ultimate irony is that we think the dups led by Jeffrey Donaldson are walking into a trap by revealing the extent of their 1920s values where they reckon inserting a red hot poker up the rectum of a gay man isn’t such a bad idea but they don’t see that. They actually want to have their views on this heard, they are so deluded in the belief that their views are correct and moral that they don’t even see the caricature idiots they are showing themselves to be.

  • The debate on this page regarding the new Sexual Orientation Regulations misses the pont entirely. These regulations are being sold as simple laws to reduce discrimination against homosexual and transgendered people. Of course most people would agree with such noble views in the same way as a lot of people agreed with the noble sentiments of “protecting the Iraqi people”.

    However the war in Iraq had very little to do with protecting the Iraqi people and these new laws have consequences far beyond protecting gay and transgendered people from discrimination.

    I don’t vote DUP but in this case they seem to be the only political party with their ears to the ground. When these new laws were suggested in England, there was a lot of opposition. So the DUP’s opposition merely shows that they are in tune with what is going on across the water.

    There was a very good letter in The Newsletter yesterday outlining very real causes for concern about this legislation. The letter is as follows:

    “New sex laws are being “smuggled” into Province”

    Northern Ireland Newsletter

    6th December, 2006

    “Unlike the rest of us who leave our Christmas shopping to the last minute, Peter Hain has already gift – wrapped a New Year present for everyone in Northern Ireland. The Secretary of State will wish us all a Happy New Year by unveiling the new Sexual Orientation Regulations on New Years Day.

    It is amazing these new laws have attracted so little debate here, seeing that attempts to introduce them in England met with considerable opposition.

    Genuine efforts to combat real and obvious discrimination are always laudable, but these laws have implications far beyond that noble intention. For example, if fully implemented, they could have huge consequences for the adoption of children and sex education. Church agencies could be bullied into allowing adoption by gay couples.

    Secondary schools could be forced to teach children that sexual acts between gay partners are completely equivalent with those between heterosexuals. Homosexual and heterosexual practices may have to be allocated equal discussion time in sex education classes, while teachers or schools refusing to comply could face charges of discrimination.

    It would be totally unacceptable to force schools to indoctrinate children with views contrary to their own ethos or to bully adoption agencies into betraying their convictions. If the Northern Ireland public had been fully briefed on the real meaning of this legislation, there would have been uproar. Instead these new laws are being smuggled in quietly over the Christmas season when most people are off guard.”

    This letter hits the nail on the head. These laws, which have been held back in England, are being rushed through here. Northern Ireland is being used as a testing ground for this legislation. These laws will promote discrimination as schools etc., will be forced to toe the line. Forced indoctrination of children with views that are not shared by the majority of people is totalitarian and that is precisely what these laws are. All the Christmas wrapping in the world won’t disguise that.

    Discrimination against gay people is wrong. So is discrimination against people who don’t believe that gay people should be allowed to adopt because it is not in the child’s best interest. It is also wrong to force people to teach children that gay relationships are totally equivalent to heterosexual relationships. Its one thing being tolerant of homosexuality but another thing entirely having a gun put to your head and told that you must actively promote it even to young kids in school.

    Laws which protect people against discrimination are fine if they stop there. But these laws will create lots more discrimination. They will force ordinary people – who are completely tolerant of gay people – to be silenced in any concerns that they may have over homosexuality being actively promoted to kids or as regards adoption. If these laws go through, it will soon be an “offence” to speak out about homosexual adoption, for example. Now thats not progress, that’s regression back to a state of fear. Any laws which curtail free speech in this manner are an attack on human rights even though they claim to promote human rights. If these laws are bona fide, why are they being slipped in so quietly at Christmas. Why are they being rushed through in Northern Ireland but held back in England while the governmnt reads the many letters of protest they received? The answer is that if people knew what was in the small print they would react against this erosion of their civil liberties.

  • Thomas Cordrey

    These Regulations are not about a war between Christians and homosexuals, they are not about a conflict between bigots and liberals. Those who try to label the debate in this way simply belie their own intolerance and fail to grasp the genuinely important issues raised by these Regulations in relation to freedom of conscience, freedom of religion and tolerance in our society.

    Many of those who are highly concerned by the implications of these Regulations support entirely efforts to respect the equal worth and position of people irrespective of their sexual orientation. However, as any lawyer (such as myself) can see from the way they are drafted, the Regulations go much further – they require people who may have strong religious beliefs about sexual orientation, to promote and assist homosexual practices, even if this is against their conscience and against the teaching of their religion (whether Christianity, Judaism, Islam or other).

    To force people to act against longstanding doctrines is illiberal and intolerant. It is also a mistake – many people think that homosexuality is morally equivalent to heterosexuality, but others do not. To deny freedom to that latter group to the point of using legislation to force them to act against their beliefs sets a dangerous precedent – what views will the government next choose to eliminate with legislation?

  • Dr Snuggles

    “Its one thing being tolerant of homosexuality but another thing entirely having a gun put to your head and told that you must actively promote it even to young kids in school.”

    Right there is where you betray a ridiculous level of hysteria on this matter. Have you actually read the regulations? Adoption is not even mentioned, and could hardly be considered to be under the banner of “goods and services”. You might be interested to learn that there is currently nothing to stop gay people from applying to adopt and there hasn’t been for a long time. According to adoption.co.uk:

    “Recent research indicates that gay adopters do a very good job of parenting children and that they have as much as anyone else to offer children who are placed for adoption. You should not expect to face any discrimination because of your sexuality.”

    The regulations prohibit the denial of education to someone based on sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation. They do not require anything remotely like the situation you describe. Nor will it be – as you claim – an offence to speak out about “homosexual adoption”.

    The regulations simply protect the ordinary everyday rights of a much-maligned, derided, and peaceable minority.

    For the record, I absolutely believe in the rights of a gay couple to apply to adopt. Is having two mums or dads really worse than having none of either?

    I don’t see any difference between a view that interracial couples are morally wrong and a view that gay couple are wrong. But then, I utterly reject the fundamentalist view that homosexuality is of itself “sinful” and “curable”. All cogent and coherent research is otherwise, not least the fact that homosexuality has been observed and well recorded in 1,500 species of animals.

    Are the “ordinary” people you speak of only the white, Christian, straight people of Northern Ireland? If so, are you equally as “tolerant” of racial minorities, the disabled, or people of different religions?

    It is not about being “tolerant” of lawful and non-threatening difference – it is about accepting it fully and unreservedly. Gay people deserve and should expect the same rights as everyone else. It is odd that, for instance, a politician who had seemingly no problem sharing a platform with a mass murderer should feel so compelled to bust a blood vessel over some simple, ordinary rights.

    I am not religious, but my understanding of Christianity is that all have sinned and all are sinners. Why is it that there is such an extraordinary and special “righteous anger” reserved for gay people, which often seems to outstrip even disgust for drug dealers and killers?

  • Dr Snuggles

    “However, as any lawyer (such as myself) can see from the way they are drafted, the Regulations go much further – they require people who may have strong religious beliefs about sexual orientation, to promote and assist homosexual practices, even if this is against their conscience and against the teaching of their religion”

    Nonsense. The regulations specifically define discrimination and harassment on the grounds of sexual orientation. On no reading could that definition be interpreted to require anyone to “promote and assist homosexual practices”.

    The regulations also include extremely wide ranging exemptions for religious organisations. Again, I urge people to actually read the regulations, whether they are lawyers or not.

  • Dr Snuggles

    One more thing – it’s worth pointing out that the above poster Thomas Cordrey works for a group called “Christian Concern for our Nation” (CCFON).

    That is not to malign him or denigrate his opinions in any way – it is simply to point out that he may just have a somewhat more explicit agenda than may be suggested by his post, especially his playing of the “lawyer card” in his interpretation of the regulations.

    CCFON has equally strident views on the building of a large mosque in West Ham, on abortion, on gambling, embyonic research, and on voluntary euthanasia.

    None of that is at all surprising, but it is interesting that such a group believes that its views ought to trump all others through legislating to outlaw what it believes to be un-Christian, rather than simply trying to persuade people in what is supposed to be a libertarian and pluralist society.

  • Ian

    All sexual activity whether it be homosexual or heterosexual is equally abhorrent and should be punished by a ten pound fine.

  • Bugbear

    This is the latest of “those who would change Northern Irelands political landscape” ‘s attempts to force Unionists to fully participate in the current process and fully engage with ‘former'(?) terrorists.

    It’s also a sign of how desperate they’re getting!

  • Dr Snuggles

    “This is the latest of “those who would change Northern Irelands political landscape” ‘s attempts to force Unionists to fully participate in the current process and fully engage with ‘former’(?) terrorists.”

    Hardly. These regulations come into force in January – long before an Executive is to be formed. The Government, rightly (for once), is not offering the prospect of the Assembly having any authority to change this.

    It’s also worth reminding people that the regulations regard discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, regardless of that orientation. In other words, one cannot discriminate against another on the grounds that they are gay or bisexual, or on the grounds that they are straight. This is about equality, nothing more and nothing less.

  • Dr Snuggles

    Earlier, I quoted from the website http://www.adoption.org.uk

    I wrongly typed the web address as http://www.adoption.co.uk, which is actually an animal adoption website. Sorry for any confusion – I hope that doesn’t take us into dodgy territory…

  • Dr Snuggles

    for what it’s worth, a reformed assembly WOULD have the power to revoke the regulations, simply be drafting a revocation order under section 82 of the parent Act, the Equality Act 2006.

  • Dr Snuggles

    Not to attack further ;-(, but Adoption certainly is a service, or at least a facility – and even if it were not, it would be a public function, which is also covered.

  • Dr Snuggles
    Many thanks for ‘outing’ Thomas Cordrey! However, your comments would have more credibility of you were to do a wee bit of ‘outing’ on yourself!
    Just to help make it simple for you:-
    1. What is your real name?
    2. What organisation do you represent?
    3. What “more explicit agenda” do you have?
    4. What “equally strident views” do you hold?
    5. What views do you want to “trump all others”?
    Or, are you one of those liberals who are perfectly objective, unlike the rest of us? Catch yourself on, apply your intellectual wisdom to the issue, instead of abusing a person whose views are at least as valid as yours.

  • The regulations provide wide exemptions for religious organisations and merely outlaw discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation in the provision of goods and services in Northern Ireland by **commercial providers**.

    A lot of lies are being told. The regs don’t cover the school curriculum nor trans people. No “independent” christian adoption agency exists in Northern Ireland to be affected! No-one will be instructed to promote homosexuality (or hetrosexuality!)!

    The excemption provided for relgious organisations is actually wider than originally proposed.

    If the regulations are not enacted before a new fully functioning NI Assembly is established the DUP will ensure that lesbian and gay people will be denied the protections they deserve until the European Court of Human Rights forces them to replicate those to be put in place by Ruth Kelly in GB, at huge cost to the NI tax payer due to legal bills etc.

    Lesbian and gay people like myself would therefore have to continue to suffer ongoing discrimination for many years, thrown out of restaurants for being “too gay” or harassed at the gym for speaking out against hate crime, by those who also hate black people and other minorities because they are simply “different”.

    It’s time the DUP moved with the times and recognised the fact that 88% of people in Northern Ireland are supportive of the principle that LGB people should not be discriminated against.

  • Dr Snuggles

    “For what it’s worth, a reformed assembly WOULD have the power to revoke the regulations, simply be drafting a revocation order under section 82 of the parent Act, the Equality Act 2006.”

    I did not say that it wouldn’t. My meaning was that the Government was not offering the Assembly any opportunity to stop the regulations coming into force in January.

    The revocation you mention would require cross-community support, so in theory you are of course correct, but we both know that the nationalist parties would in effect veto such a proposal.

    “Adoption certainly is a service, or at least a facility – and even if it were not, it would be a public function, which is also covered”

    OK, but as I mentioned, gay couples are already protected from discrimination in applying to adopt, so if your point is to be pedantic on an irrelevant detail, well done.

  • Dr Snuggles

    “Just to help make it simple for you:- “

    Off to a flyer with the sixth-form debating society sarcasm…

    1. What is your real name?

    I have no intention of revealing my real name on this message board. Clearly, neither have you, “Way Icit”. Thomas Cordrey’s work involves his being a public spokesperson for his organisation. I am commenting in a private capacity, as are you.

    2. What organisation do you represent?

    None.

    3. What “more explicit agenda” do you have?

    None. As I said, Mr Cordrey’s job is to oppose measures such as the regulations. I’m commenting in a private capacity and have no explicit agenda other than the position I have clearly laid out.

    4. What “equally strident views” do you hold?

    I have laid out my views. If you think I’ve done so stridently, I won’t take that as an insult.

    5. What views do you want to “trump all others”?

    None. As I said, I believe in a pluralist society.

    Or, are you one of those liberals who are perfectly objective, unlike the rest of us? Catch yourself on, apply your intellectual wisdom to the issue, instead of abusing a person whose views are at least as valid as yours.

    I have not abused anyone. I expressly stated that I was not denigrating or maligning Mr Cordrey’s views in any way. I notice that you did not afford me the same courtesy. I have addressed the issue. My “outing” of Mr Cordrey was based solely on the fact that he did not dislcose the fact that he is employed by and has the significant resources of a lobby group with a strong interest in this issue. He also misrepresents the views of many Christians and adherents of Reform Judaism, which have a liberal attitude to homosexuality.

    How can a spokesperson for “Christian Concern for our Nation” speak for the largest movement in worldwide Judaism? He also mentions Islam, and yet he speaks for an organisation that describes Islam in an official statement as:

    “a religion which, in many parts of the world, denies essential freedoms enshrined in the UDHR, on which our liberal democracy is founded?”

    I am not expressing an opinion about the above statement, but it is somewhat disingeuous of Mr Cordrey to cite the views of Islam as a defence for his position, while failing to mention that he works for a group that holds such a view.

  • willowfield

    It’s a pity the Government wouldn’t change the gaming legislation and legalise casinos before the Assembly comes back.

  • myview

    Dr Snuggles, you replied in Post number 8 to the concerns I raised in post 6. You say that I “betray a ridiculous level of hysteria on this matter” because of my concerns that schools will be forced to promote homosexuality and put it on an even keel with heterosexuality in sex education classes. Philip Johnston, Home Affairs Editor of The Daily Telegraph also must be suffering from the same hysteria with which you believe I am afflicted. He wrote an article entitled “Gay rights law ‘being forced through’” in the Daily Telegraph on 22 / 11 / 2006. The article can be found at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/11/21/ngay21.xml
    In this article Mr Johnston stated:

    “Controversial new gay rights laws are being bulldozed through parliament despite protests from Churches and other groups. The Sexual Orientation Regulations, which the Government appeared to have dropped a few weeks ago, are being fast-tracked in Northern Ireland, using direct rule powers. They have even be toughened up in what critics believe is a dry run for a similar move in the rest of Britain next spring.

    The legislation would prevent gays or lesbians being discriminated against in the “provision of goods and services”. This could include being turned away from a hotel or a shop but might also require schools to give equal prominence in sex education classes to both homosexual and heterosexual practices.

    Faith groups are concerned that they will no longer be able to put forward a strongly-held belief that homosexuality is a sin. Churches have said they also object to being forced into letting same-sex couples adopt children in their care.

    The UK-wide regulations were due to be voted on in parliament last month but the Government put them off for six months because of an unexpectedly high number of responses to a consultation exercise.
    However, they have now been slipped out in Northern Ireland after just a few weeks of consultation and are due to come into force in the province on Jan 1.”

    You say that adoption is not even mentioned in the legislation, indicating that these laws have nothing to do with adoption. It is not what is mentioned in the legislation that is primarily important, it is the way it is interpreted. We have seen on many occasions before how laws can be interpreted in a way very few could ever have imagined. A good example is The UN Convention on the Rights of The Child. This states that the child should be afforded appropriate legal protection before and after birth. But it has been interpreted by some groups as meaning that abortion is ok, even though the actual wording could never have been construed in this manner.

    The Daily Mail reported on November 28th that “The Church of England has warned that it believes the laws would make it possible for a gay couple to sue a vicar who refused to bless a same – sex partnership. The same rule would apply to other Christian denominations as well as Muslim, Jewish, Sikh and Hindu clerics”. It is quite clear that it could easily be claimed by a gay couple that they were being discriminated against by not being allowed to adopt a child. If that gay couple then sent their child to school and that school did not teach about homosexuality in its sex education classes, could they not also claim they were being discriminated against? We only have to look at present at all the ridiculous claims of “discrimination” that we hear about every day, to recognise what way these laws could be interpreted. For example, businesses displaying traditional Christmas decorations can be seen as being discriminatory to other faiths. These regulations leave the door open for some gay people to claim that adoption agencies or schools discriminated against them by not allowing them to adopt or by not teaching about homosexuality on an equal footing with heterosexuality.

    That is why the UK government is currently considering 3000 responses to its consultation on these regulations. You say that I “might be interested to learn that there is currently nothing to stop gay people from applying to adopt and there hasn’t been for a long time”. I am well aware of that, but never before has there been legislation which could force adoption agencies to give children to gay couples whether they wanted to or not.

    (I have more to say but I can only send 5000 characters at one time, so the rest is in my next message).

  • ( continued from last message – this is my reply to Dr Snuggles’ post number 8)

    You say that “The regulations prohibit the denial of education to someone based on sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation. They do not require anything remotely like the situation you describe. Nor will it be – as you claim – an offence to speak out about “homosexual adoption.”

    Really??? Why then did British author Lynette Burrows get a phone call from the UK police last year when she raised some basic concerns about gay adoption on BBC Radio Five Live? The police said they were investigating a “homophobic incident”. The Daily Telegraph article “Police warn author over gay comments” by Sally Pook ( 10 / 12 / 2005 ), reported: “A member of the public complained to the police and an officer contacted Mrs Burrows the following day to say a “homophobic incident” had been reported against her.”I was astounded,” she said. “I told her this was a free country and we are allowed to express opinions on matters of public interest. She told me it was not a crime but that she had to record these incidents. They were leaning on me, letting me know that the police had an interest in my views. I think it is sinister and completely unacceptable.”” The Daily Telegraph article can be found at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2005/12/10/ngay10.xml

    If Mrs Burrows cannot even express her democratic view about gay adoption on a BBC Radio programme, before this new legislation comes into power, what will it be like when the new laws are in place? Of course the laws are written in nice language but where does it say in English law that it is an offence to speak against gay adoption on the radio? Why then did Mrs Burrows get a call from the police?

    I’m sure you would have told Mrs Burrows that it was ok for her to express her views on radio, but in reality it wasn’t ok. The laws are written in nice pleasant language but they are often applied very differently. Experience tells us that. Also if these new laws are so nice and will bring such justice and peace for everyone, why are they being rushed through quietly in the Christmas season? Why, as Phillip Johnston said in the Daily Telegraph are they being “bulldozed through Parliament”? Why has the government not come clean and told the Northern Irish people exactly what these new regulations mean, seeing that we will soon all be bound by them and seeing that the government is currently considering three thousand responses to them in The UK?

    The answer to that is rather obvious – those who sneak things in quietly often have something to hide.

  • Dr Snuggles

    Myview,

    It is rather telling that you seem to believe that the Daily Telegraph’s home affairs editor has some sort of monopoly on the truth when it comes to this matter. The Daily Telegraph is known for expressing views that are well to the right of the Conservative Party.

    When the then Tory Chairman Francis Maude expressed a view that a future leader of the Conservative Party might be gay, the self-same Daily Telegraph devoted an inordinate amount of space to opinions such as the following:

    “It beggars belief, even in these Dark Ages, that sexual perversion should be spoken of as acceptable in the leadership of anything.”

    That’s the Daily Telegraph for you – an organ of the right which has no mainstream political party reflecting its views. Its sports coverage may be excellent, but its stance on social issues is way out of touch.

    You also rely on the scaremongering Daily Mail – a paper that only days ago claimed that anyone who visited Alexander Litvinenko while he was in his hospital bed could die of radiation poisoning, after it was expressly stated by Health Protection Agency that a large amount of polonium-210 would have to be directly ingested to be fatal.

    The Mail’s claim that a vicar who refused to bless a same-sex couple could be sued is absolute rubbish. The regulations could not be clearer in stating that:

    “Nothing in these Regulations shall make it unlawful for an organisation to which this regulation applies [Churches and other religious organisations], or for anyone acting on behalf of or under the auspices of such an organisation:

    (a) to restrict membership of the organisation;
    (b) to restrict participation in activities undertaken by the organisation or on its behalf or under its auspices;
    (c) to restrict the provision of goods, facilities and services in the course of activities undertaken by the organisation or on its behalf or under its auspices; or
    (d) to restrict the use or disposal of premises owned or controlled by the organisation”

    I’d rather quote from the law itself than a journalist with an agenda. The exemption could even allow a vicar to refuse communion to a gay person. That’s the reality.

    You raised the Lynette Burrows case. She clearly did not commit an offence, nor did the police at any time even consider charging her with an offence. The police simply informed her that a complaint had been made. If some crackpot falsely accused you of assault, the police would be required to inform you. As a police spokesman said: “It is standard practice for all parties to be spoken to”.

    That is not to say that Mrs Burrows’s comments weren’t offensive. She did not blandly raise, as you claim, “some basic concerns”. She said: “Nobody trusts men with girls but they will give a little boy to two homosexuals, which is madness.” That is to equate homosexuality with paedophilia – a repugnant myth that has been comprehensively disproved. Her views may be execrable, but they are not illegal.

    Finally, these regualtions are patently not being “rushed through quietly” during the Christmas season. The issue is hardly quiet – as you confirm, it’s getting a lot of press. Nor are they being “rushed”. The consultation was launched in July and concluded at the end of October. Regulations are routinely finalised in much less time than that. As for being “bulldozed” through Parliament – all Northern Ireland law is currently pushed through by the Labour majority. Until the Assembly returns, that’s just the way it is.

    The Government position is clear and was put succinctly by Equality Minister Meg Munn, who said:

    “There are a number of misconceptions about what these Regulations will cover and what is being considered. For example, no-one is proposing that schools will have to promote homosexuality or that a priest will have to bless same sex couples. But at the same time, the vast majority of the British public would surely agree that is wrong for a gay teenager to be refused emergency accommodation after being thrown out of their family home on the grounds that they had chosen to tell their parents about their sexuality or for lesbian and bisexual people to be denied access to essential healthcare. It is right that there should be a public debate on these complex and difficult issues, but that debate should be conducted in a calm and measured way, rather than through inaccurate and wild speculation.”

  • BeardyBoy

    let us talk plain talk – homosexuality is a one perversion among many that afflicts humanity – we do not have to treat it as any more acceptable than the other perversions – let us hope that this legislation gets bogged down and eventually quietly dropped – like most of the left wing liberal nonesense this no doubt has the support of that breed of vipers – the womens rights division of Sinn Fein – when will they realise that they are alienating the traditional natioanlist?

  • Dr Snuggles

    BeardyBoy is a perfect example of why the regulations are necessary. He very nicely sums up the fact that the expression of extreme homophobic views won’t go away on January 1 when the regulations become law. He and all the others will still be free to regard gay people as unacceptable perverts.

    They just won’t be able to turn away those “perverts” from their shops and hotels. Happy new year.

  • Wilde Rover

    Dr Snuggles

    The way you have surgically exposed the sophistry to reveal the scare mongering on this topic would suggest your medical moniker is well deserved.

    BeardyBoy

    Unlike other posts your bigotry is nothing if not honest, and for that at least you must be commended.

  • Wilde Rover

    Sorry about the professional foul there at the end Slugger. A bit of that Roy Keane Red Mist

  • J_K

    While there is a lot of detail being put into this debate I suspect that there is an awful lot of misinformation.

    I think that it is right that all regardless of sexual orientation are offered full protection against discrimination.

    In the same way that people with a disability or who are from a different country deserve full protection.

    In the same line of argument would those opposing this progressive l;egislation argue that discrimination on some other grounds is acceptable.

    Say for example . . if it is my strongly held belief that unionists, Free P’s, people who vote for Ian Paisley should be treated as second class citizens would that be acceptable.

    Would it be OK to refuse a service to someone because I belive that their belief system is corrupt and amoral.

    I don’t think it is.

    I also think that there is a motivation being ascribed to the lesbian and gay community that just doesn’t exist.

    There is a vindictiveness evident in those who peach that homosexuality is wrong that is simply is not shared.

    While elements of this religious right would happily close down a gay bookshop for example – I suspect that no one from the lesbian of gay community would even dream of closing down a Christian bookshop.

    And that for me a key part of the srgument in favour of this legislation.

    What concerns me also is that people do not see what the DUP are at. This is not some ear to the ground response. Ian Paisley has been at this rabble rousing gay bashing exercise for some time.

    It was not so long ago that a DUP councillor was convicted of harrassing a gay council election candidate and I suspect no one will ever forget DUP Cllr ‘Huricane’ Mills.

    The DUP are attempting to use this homophobia for political gain.

    The fact that they may be in a position to shgare the leadership of OFMDFM that is responsible for equality issues is quite alarming becau8se the DUP have yet to show that they even know what equality is let alone that they are committed to stamping inequality and discrimination out.

    One final point – homophobic incvidents went up 175% last year – great advert for religious tolerance.

  • Bugbear

    My earlier point that this is the latest legislation being used as a battering ram to force open the front gate of Unionism still stands. It follows the rates, water charge, planning regs, licensing.

    Personally I believe homosexuality is abhorrent, but qualify that by saying, so is sex outside of marriage i.e before you’re married or with another partner if you are. I have no beef with homosexuals as long as they’re non-practising. I have no beef with heterosexuals as long as they only practice inside marriage.

    Sex is a God given gift and it works as long as it’s played to the rules. We all need to work on the special relationship we have with the one special person in our life, and not take the easy way out.

    Attacking homosexuals physically is never justified but there must be room to criticise activity one finds abhorrent.

  • Dr Snuggles

    Bugbear,

    The debate is straying off topic, but I feel I must address your comments. You use phrases like “sex is a God-given gift” and say that all sex outside of marriage is “abhorrent”.

    If that’s a firmly held religious view, fair enough. But why then did Christians picket and protest at civil partnerships at Belfast City Hall, but do not do so at marriages when one or both of the partners are divorced (something the bible prohibits)? If God does not recognise divorce, then those people will be having sex outside marriage with their second wife or husband. There is clearly a “special” abhorrence of homosexuality that goes well beyond disdain for all sex outside of marriage. That was well evident when a Christian “gentleman” decided to punch someone who had the audacity to walk past him at the Belfast Gay Pride in 2005.

    There is a clear self-assurance and security in verbally attacking, picketing, or abusing a minority that is known for non-violence. I suspect that there are no protests at second marriages because the protestors might end up being thumped by the groom and his relations.

    There are no protests outside bars where drug dealing is prevalent or where ex-paramilitary prisoners drink because the protestors would – heaven forbid – be putting themselves in danger. There’s no danger in protesting against gay people though, so it’s open season on them.

    The other problem with the fundamentalist religious view is that it is absolute. There is no room for debate because those on the other side of the argument claim to speak for God and espouse “God-given” absolute truths.

    It’s not good enough to state in absolute terms that homosexuality is disgusting, abominable and abhorrent, and can be “cured” through prayer and faith, and then wash one’s hands of violence against gay people. Such comments at least partly create an enabling environment for such violence and a sense that the victim may have reaped what they sowed. The same goes for the disproportionately high rate of suicide among young gay men.

    Exression of religious belief is fine, but, for example, in state schools, should a Christian teacher be allowed to tell non-Christian pupils that they are going to go to hell because they have not accepted Jesus as their personal saviour? Should a Christian teacher be allowed to teach non-Christian pupils that Muslims or Jews are a Godless lot who are responsible for much of the evil in the world?

    If the answer is no, then why on Earth should a Christian teacher be allowed to preach to pupils that homosexuality is an abominable sin? What’s more, why should a PE teacher, Christian or not, be able to call weaker kids “fairies” or “poofs”, which used to happen routinely when I was at school.

    The real effect of the regulations will be to stop that sort of behaviour, not to “promote” gay sex to children.

    This is supposed to be a pluralist society, and religious belief surely should not come into one’s professional or business life. Let parents, priests and ministers be responsible for the religious education of children. Let free-thinking individuals hold to their own moral code, within the law. And let’s protect all citizens, minorities or not, from victimisation, discrimination and abuse.

  • Bugbear

    I know we’re (I’m!) off topic but the way the regulations are being introduced doesn’t give one much chance to protest, and justify your protest. I believe a truly Christian society is achievable in spite of the frightening ‘modern’ world in which we live. However, attitudes must changed otherwise we’re all condemned.

    The true Christian view (IMHO) is to live to the 2 things the 10 commandments are built on – Loving God & Loving your Neighbour. If your neighbour decides to (or can’t help themselves, if you like) to commit adultery, which (again IMHO) includes homosexual acts, then as a Christian you must draw their attention to what is ‘wrong’ with their lifestyle and leave it at that. Let them parade it around if they wish, without protest – but quietly work to make yor feelings known.

    Christians often start to pray with ‘Our Father’ the implication being that we’re all siblings. I prefer to love my brothers and sisters by gently pointing out the error of their ways, than by ignoring the fact that they will inevitably crash and burn if they continue in that lifestyle.

    There is still room for forgiveness and the Lord rejoices in the return of true prodigals – more so than the retention of those of us who claim to love Him yet fail to live the life He has hoped for us.

    The catholic church is just that (in the true meaning of catholic), so there’s plenty of room for all shades of opinion, but God has especially blessed the union of a man with a woman where children are the fruit. IMHO other physical relationhips are not encouraged as they’re selfish. Anyone who cannot control themselves to love a single person of the opposite sex should refrain.

    Christian people who physically attack homosexuals, or anyone else for whatever perceived reason, should know better. Historically, Christians have been at the receiving end of violence, although not recently in our society, and should be tolerant while highlighting their point-of-view.

    I believe that if we all lived to the Christian commandments (code of conduct) then, e.g. homosexuality would still exist but not practised, in the same way that I might find myself attracted to a person of the opposite sex, but not ‘follow through’.

    I don’t like the way the regs are being introduced and consider it indecent the way the Govt. are manipulating the people in order to make the politicians play ball. On the other hand, as God is ‘in charge’ there must be some of His method in the madness….

    In this the season of Advent I humbly remind you of “Maranatha.”

  • Bugbear

    By the way Doc:
    I’m not so sure that divorcees remarrying is reported as banned by God in the bible.
    Nowhere in the bible does it say you shouldn’t take or deal in drugs, (which includes alcohol, ‘water into wine’ and all that)

    The bible is of course open to interpretation, something that should only be done with a prayerful mind. And finally.

    The expression ‘Christian fundamentalist’ is an oxymoron. Christians, who are sinners too, should be tolerant while encouraging their brothers and sisters to return.

  • Dr Snuggles

    “Nowhere in the bible does it say you shouldn’t take or deal in drugs”

    Wonderful. So peddling heroin to kids isn’t to be condemned, but a committed same-sex relationship is. Says it all.

    You say that you are not so sure about the bible’s prohibition of divorce, but these are the words of Jesus himself from Mark Chapter 10:

    “And the Pharisees came to him, and asked him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife? tempting him. And he answered and said unto them, What did Moses command you?

    And they said, Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away.

    And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept..

    What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

    And in the house his disciples asked him again of the same matter. And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her.

    And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.”

    Not much room for interpretation (prayerful or otherwise) there. How informative that you choose to dispense with an uncomfortable stricture straight from the mouth of your saviour, but cling to a prohibition that lies cheek-by-jowl with the “abomination” of eating shellfish.

    Many fundamentalist Christians will perform somersaults in order to interpret a context that suits them when it comes to divorce, but reject any liberal interptetation on homosexuality. Click here for more.

    The Bible is routinely ignored on many sexual matters, for instance, the levirate marriage. When a married man in Israel died childless, his widow was to have intercourse with each of his brothers in turn until she bore him a male heir. Jesus mentions this custom without criticism (Mark 12:18-27). I am not aware of any Christians who still obey this unambiguous commandment of Scripture. Why is this law ignored, and the one against homosexual behaviour preserved?

    And once again, non-Christians don’t want your “tolerance” – I don’t tolerate your right to your belief; I accept it, embrace it and would fight for your right to it. Why not extend something approaching the same courtesy to those who happen to disagree with you, brother?

  • Mustapha Mond

    Where do you stand on the ‘gay gene debate’ Dr Snuggles?
    I have a vague recollection of the research whilst at Uni. and havent followed the unfurlings for sometime as, I did’nt believe that such research would benefit society much. Nowadays I’m not so sure.

  • Dr Snuggles

    It’s an interesting area, Mustapha. On one hand, such research could be viewed as sinister because some may categorise a “gay gene” as a defect, or something that could eventually be “cured” or eliminated.

    On the other hand, the establishing of a “gay gene” gives the lie to those who claim that homosexuality is nothing other than a misguided lifestyle choice. It would firmly establish sexuality as a genetic trait on a par with race.

    However, scientific proof is never enough to sway fundamentalists from their views, because, as I said earlier, their religious “absolute truths” trump any other evidence, however compelling. Geological evidence against there being a flood at the time of Noah, or the evidence of physics against the possibility of the construction of an ark capable of holding all those animals, or the evidence for evolution, etc, etc, is simply dismissed or ignored by fundamentalists.

    Therefore, scientific proof that homosexuality is not a choice would not sway fundamentalists one iota.

    Most thinking people already accept that homosexuality is fixed at an early age, for whatever reason, and is not a matter of choice. In nature, it is seen in some 1,500 species of animals, and is therefore, natural.

    In some pairs of identical twins, one is straight and the other gay. Some jump on this as evidence against sexuality being inherent – how could it be genetic if identical twins (who have identical DNA) have different sexualities? However, the real question is why two people with an identical upbringing have different orientations.

    Although identical twins do have the same “genotype”, or DNA, they have different “phenotypes”, meaning that the same DNA is expressed in different ways.

    Traits determined by phenotype, such as fingerprints, wavy hair, taste bud sensitivity, or left-handedness, are the result of the interaction of the individual’s genes and the developmental environment in the uterus. Thus, a DNA test can’t determine the difference between identical twins, while a simple fingerprint can.

    In studies of identical twins where one is gay, the chance of the other being gay is 52%. That is significantly higher than the population at large, and certainly points to a genetic link.

    At the end of the day though, it shouldn’t matter. Gay people exist – no one disputes that – and they should be afforded the same rights and entitlements as everyone else. In a democracy, the law is there to protect citizens, not to impose religious doctrine.

  • “In studies of identical twins where one is gay, the chance of the other being gay is 52%.”

    Says who?

  • BeardyBoy

    What? homosexuality is not a perversion? of course it is.

    And why are people being forced to accept it as normal?

    Imagine a family run B&B. They are trying to rear their children correctly and two of these perverts want to hire a room – they will be forced to accomodate these pervs against their will. Surely this is a tyranny? Why can people not control who they allow into their premises?

    In my local two lesbians were ejected when they started to snog. This was supported by the entire clientelle who considered this as totally inappropriate. Now they would want to sue.

    This removes the authority of the owner and is undermining respect for authority in general.

    Sooner we get rid of the liberal protestant claptrap and get laws that reflect the Laws of God the better.

  • Dr Snuggles

    “Says who?”

    J.M. Bailey and R.C. Pillard, “A genetic study of male sexual orientation,” Archives of General Psychiatry, vol. 48:1089-1096, December 1991.

    see news article

    I don’t make idle claims that I can’t back up. How about actually addressing the argument.

  • Dr Snuggles,

    You say that I “seem to believe that the Daily Telegraph’s home affairs editor has some sort of monopoly on the truth when it comes to this matter.” No I don’t, but I was quoting him to illustrate my view on a particular area which you had described as being hysterical. You dismiss his claim immediately because it’s in The Daily Telegraph.

    You clarified the point well that the new laws will not make it possible to sue a vicar for refusing to bless a same – sex couple. Fair enough, as long as the legislation is interpreted exactly as it says or that it is not subsequently amended to remove this clause. As I said before, its not what the law says, it’s how it is interpreted. No one writing the UN Convention on The rights of The Child could have imagined that the clause which says appropriate legal protection should be given to the child before and after birth could ever be interpreted as allowing abortion. However, that’s the way many pro – abortionists have managed to “interpret” this clause.

    You greatly downplay the Lynette Burrows case where the police spoke to her to say that a “homophobic incident” had been reported against her. You say “The police simply informed her that a complaint had been made.” To say that the police “simply informed her” doesn’t seem to be quite how Ms Burrows viewed the incident. She said “I was astounded” and continued “They were leaning on me, letting me know that the police had an interest in my views. I think it is sinister and completely unacceptable.” It is of course sinister and totally unacceptable. Ms Burrows had every right to express her views on BBC radio without fear of coming to the attention of the police. It is particularly concerning that a writer should be having her views monitored in this manner. If even our writers are monitored in this way, who is allowed to speak?

    You say “If some crackpot falsely accused you of assault, the police would be required to inform you”. If you are saying that the person who accused Ms Burrows of homophobia was falsely accusing her, fair enough. Is this what you are saying?

    So therefore any of us who publicly challenge gay adoption can expect a few “routine” calls from the police in future to tell us that someone has falsely accused us of homophobia? And we’ll all just say, “Thanks for the call officer”, who will cordially reply “My pleasure, standard practice”. And we can say, “Don’t hesitate to call again if anyone falsely accuses me of a crime”. To which they will reply with a friendly smile, “No problem,…..we have your number..”

    It is essential to remember that this Lynette Burrows case happened when these regulations were not in place. Therefore what is it going to be like when they are part of our legal framework? You continually reassure us all that there’s nothing to worry about in this legislation. But people would get very worried if they got calls from the police saying that they had just been reported when they are simply exercising their right to free speech. In recent times, student Christian groups have been discriminated against in the UK by gay dominated student unions. Many of these groups are considering legal action. Did the police get involved in any of these incidents? If a Christian student had made a complaint to the police would they have “informed” the leaders of the unions that a “Christianophobic” incident had been reported?

    Would the UK police not make better use of public money by dealing with incidents where crime actually has been committed, rather than by deploying officers to attend to complaints where, on their own admission, no crime has occurred? I’m thinking, for example, of the elderly who get robbed and beaten up, of the violence on our streets, of the murders, stabbings etc., If the police are going to phone or call out to everyone who has been reported for committing non – crimes and who have not broken the law, when will they get time and resources to investigate and solve actual crime?

    (Out of space, continued next message)

  • (Continued from my previous message)

    It is interesting to note the public reaction to a particular scene in Eve Ensler’s play, The Vagina Monologues. In this scene, a woman describes how at thirteen years old she was given alcohol by a twenty four year old woman who then had lesbian sex with her. Reflecting on this incident, the victim says “Some may call it a kind of rape, well I say if it was rape, it was a good rape”. This reference to lesbian paedophilic rape as “good” caused lots of controversy so that Ms Ensler later changed the girl’s age to sixteen and then dropped most or all of the scene from later versions of the production. The play, of course, got standing ovations from its mostly female audiences.

    A young university student called Robert Swope, writing in a US student magazine called the Hoya, condemned the scene outright, expressing his disgust at the legitimisation of the rape of a child. His reward ? Promotion ? No, the only promotion he got was to be sacked as a writer from the magazine. Cue protests from the likes of Amnesty International who are concerned by violence against women ? Eh….no…they are actually very chummy with Eve Ensler, so they turned a blind eye to the “good rape” scene and,………… invited Eve to come and speak at their “Stop Violence Against Women Campaign” launch.

    Meanwhile, across the border, all hell broke loose this year when a man convicted of ,……wait for it,….the statutory rape of a thirteen year old girl after giving her alcohol, was set for release. This lead to an emergency reconvening of Dail Eireann and nearly brought down the Republic’s government. Amnesty International issued a statement expressing their concern. No statements of concern about Eve’s “good rape” scene though from Amnesty. Instead, only backslapping and handshakes with Eve. The positive reaction to a play glamourising lesbian statutory rape of a thirteen year old girl and the way Robert Swope was sacked for criticising it, is interesting to say the least.

    You say that:
    “these regulations are patently not being “rushed through quietly” during the Christmas season. The issue is hardly quiet – as you confirm, its getting a lot of press. Nor are they being “rushed”. The consultation was launched in July and concluded at the end of October. Regulations are routinely finalised in much less time than that. As for being “bulldozed” through Parliament – all Northern Ireland law is currently pushed through by the Labour majority. Until the Assembly returns, that’s just the way it is”.

    Of course they are being rushed through quietly over Christmas. Mick Fealty, at the beginning of this thread, stated: “In effect, Sinn Fein is backing Westminster’s plan to fast track this legislation in Northern Ireland well in advance of any similar legislation in Britain. Indeed it is not yet clear whether there is any serious intention to bring such far reaching provisions to the UK statute book”.

    The news only broke very recently about these laws coming into force in Northern Ireland on New Years Day. You seem to have misunderstood my argument regarding press coverage. Yes, I have highlighted that these laws attracted press coverage, but this was across the water, not here. The laws have been debated much better over there and have been held back. Here, there has been very little press coverage until very recently and, with Christmas coming, there is unlikely to be a proper debate. As Mick Fealty has said, these are “far reaching provisions”. Therefore they deserve proper debate, at least as much as they have received across the water.

    You quote Equality Minister Meg Munn as saying that it is right we should have public debate on these laws, but there is insufficient time to do so between now and January 1st. Therefore, if the government is sincere about wanting public debate, it should encourage this by delaying this legislation until everyone is fully informed about this issue. No one can debate properly until they are fully informed. The vast majority of the public don’t know what this legislation entails at all,……although they’ll soon wake up if they get a few “routine” calls from the police to inform them that they haven’t committed a crime but have been reported anyway.

  • Brum

    In the wider scheme of things what is the point of homosexuality? What does it achieve? It’s just a selfish act! If there was any point to it it would be more popular and the human race would die out.

  • Dr Snuggles

    Myview,

    You seem to be very concerned about Mrs Burrowes, who of course tells her side of the story in a particular way. As I said, she was told during the phone call that no charge would be made against her. I make no apologies for my heart not bleeding for a woman who would say: “Nobody trusts men with girls but they will give a little boy to two homosexuals, which is madness.”

    Let’s not forget that if she had said that about named individuals, she would have certainly libelled them.

    Your argument about police resources is somewhat specious too. A phallanx of bobbies were not “deployed” to Mrs Burrows’s home. She got a brief phone call – something the police are required to do.

    Freedom of speech is and has long been subject to limitations in the UK – libel and incitement to hatred, for example. Everyone, including Christians, are expected to be responsible in what they say.

    I’m loath to even address your bizarre comparison between the lawful sacking of a student journalist from a student paper, and Amnesty International’s reaction to real-life rape.

    You seem to be casting your net extremely wide to find just two specific examples, one of which did not even take place in the UK.

    Incidentally, a bit of research on the Robert Swope case reveals that The Hoya’s then editor-in-chief, David Wong, explained that Swope had been dismissed for routinely and repeatedly ignoring editorial policy, insulting the opinions editor, and not submitting work on time. He was also accused of using his column to conduct a vendetta against the university’s women’s centre.

    Moreover, Mr Swope’s initial piece on the Vagina Monologues was published and is still available online.

    I don’t know the details of the Swope case first-hand (neither do you) but for the record, I believe that opinion columnists are entitled to challenge their readers and be as controversial as they like, within the law.

    As for the “debate”, this is a fundamental matter of equal rights. the wider debate is already over and – as many on this board have demonstrated – the specific debate on the regulations is largely misinformed and characterised by scaremongering and falacious argument.

    The regulations are already far too late in coming. As far as equality is concerned, justice delayed is justice denied.

    You quote Mick. He’s a great guy but he’s not any more infallible than you. To borrow a phrase, “one man’s far-reaching measures are another’s basic rights”.

  • Dr Snuggles

    “In the wider scheme of things what is the point of homosexuality? What does it achieve? It’s just a selfish act! If there was any point to it it would be more popular and the human race would die out.”

    I hope that’s an attempt an irony, but just in case…

    You could contend that any sexual act is selfish. Even when couples are trying for a baby, the act is presumably pleasurable and the patter of tiny feet isn’t uppermost in their minds.

    What about sex between a heterosexual couple where one or both is infertile? What does that achieve, by your “logic”?

    Reading posts like that, sometimes I wish the human race would die out…

  • Dr Snuggles,

    You say that I “seem to be very concerned about Mrs Burrowes, who of course tells her side of the story in a particular way. As I said, she was told during the phone call that no charge would be made against her.”

    Again you seem to have completely missed the point of why I am so concerned. I am of course concerned about the attempts to shut down Lynette Burrows’ right to free speech, but my main concern is what this indicates for everyone else in the future. Will we all be getting calls from the police if we say something which upsets them? I’ve already made this point clear but you have chosen to gloss over it. This is a serious issue about intimidation of someone into silence.

    Your lack of concern about this issue worries me further as it indicates that you would think it only right and proper for the police to call anyone who had expressed views like those of Ms Burrows. You seem to see nothing wrong with this at all.

    This was an attempt to intimidate her into silence on this issue. If she expressed the same view on radio again, would she have got another call from the police? If she expressed it twenty times, or a hundred times, would she have got twenty or a hundred calls? It is quite obvious that the purpose of this call was to warn her off – the implication being that if she expressed similar views again, she would be getting another call – the further implication being that the police might be slightly less courteous the next time because she had been warned already and was now daring to express these views again. The very clear intimidatory message from the police was – Don’t let it happen again.

    This was no simple, routine call. It was a sinister sign of things to come and it should be borne in mind that the police did not have the backing of these new regulations at that time. Now, armed with these new legal papers, the police callers will have greatly increased powers to intimidate writers and critics into silence. What we are witnessing are very clear attempts to stifle free speech and shut down open debate. When an English author can be intimidated in this way, what chance does the ordinary person have?

    Laws which bring genuine justice and fairness are to be applauded, but laws which help to suppress a civilian’s right to express an opinion are the other end of the spectrum.

    You say this debate is a “fundamental matter of equal rights”. Does that include equal rights to free speech? For example, I asked in my last post if police had contacted student union leaders in the UK over discrimination against Christian groups, in the same way they had contacted Ms Burrows. If it is a case of equal rights, we would expect them to do so, although I haven’t heard any word yet. Maybe they are too busy phoning people up to tell them they haven’t done anything wrong and haven’t had a chance to deal with this discrimination yet.

    I raised very serious issues regarding Amnesty’s support of Eve Ensler and her play The Vagina Monologues, particularly with regard to the “good rape” comment. You didn’t deal with this except to try and drag up a legitimate reason for why Robert Swope was sacked. The reason Robert Swope was sacked and the reason Lynette Burrows was targeted by the police was because they challenged an orthodoxy which does not accept challenge. This orthodoxy claims to be tolerant but it is the exact opposite and tries to shut down opinions which conflict with it’s own dogma.

  • Mustapha Mond

    Thanks for your reply Dr. Snuggles.
    It’s doubtful IMO that the reasons for a person to be gay are solely genetic, as human sexuality is an incredibly complicated area, why do some like this, and why do others like that, I doubt we will ever know.
    Although I would never put homosexuality on a par with race, living in Ireland, you probably encounter similar hostilities.

  • Dr Snuggles

    Myview

    There was no attempt to shut down Burrows’s right to free speech, which I’ve already stated is a qualified right. I put my hands up and admit that I don’t care about Lynette Burrows, who is a self-styled “family vaues camaigner” and a blowhard. She put herself out there and expressed some deeply unpleasant views insinuating that a little boy placed with two gay men was in danger. “Madness”, she called it.

    After the affair, the BBC had to issue this disclaimer, after a flood of calls from angry listeners :

    “In the context of a live radio programme it sometimes happens that challenging and unpleasant opinions are expressed. The BBC as a whole does not endorse any of the views of outside contributors to the phone-in debate.”

    Then someone made a complaint against Mrs Burrows. That complaint was investigated, decided upon and both parties notified. That’s all there is to it.

    Meanwhile, she made hay while the sun shone, exercising her freedom of speech as never before to any right-wing newpaper that would listen and misreport the incident, always omitting her actual orignal words.

    I enjoyed your hysterical extrapolation of what this will all lead to. Reminds me rather of Enoch Powell’s “rivers of blood”.

    Tell me where these universties are and a few details so that I can check up on it before replying to you. You could hardly be vaguer on that point.

    And there are no serious issues regarding Amnesty International (or one member of it) being friendly with a playwright, and their opposing real life rape. The Vagina Monologues isn’t my cup of tea, it’s controversial, but it’s art, it’s pretend, it’s not real, it’s expressive.

    Why on Earth you would expect Amnesty to get involved in the dismissal of a mysogynist student from a student newspaper, I don’t know. The mind boggles. Presumably, you would like Amnesty International maintaining a permanent watch on Jesus Christ-Superstar, or any movies that dipict violence or rape, or – heaven help us – homosexuality.

    Finally, the police did not “target” Lynn Burrows. A member of the public made a complaint and that complaint must be followed up. As I’ve said, her views if attributed to named people could have landed the BBC with a libel case to fight. Perhaps she will be more measured in her comments in future – no bad thing, one would hope. If I were a BBC producer, I would not be hiring her again; I would get someone with a similar religious outlook who will be able to express it without effectively calling gay men paedophiles.

    Ron Atkinson was fired from his job for calling a black footballer the n-word when he thought he was off camera. Mrs Burrows was on-mic when she spouted her nasty prejudices, and got away with a polite phone call. I think she did OK.

    Finally, just to point out that hate crime legislation is already in force. Legislation outlawing the refusal of applications to adopt children by gay couples is in force. Fair employment legislation is already in force. The very short regulations this debate is supposed to be about are to do with the provision of goods and services. You could barely be further off topic with most of your points, which have zero to do with the regulations, and more to do with your own paranoid view of a future police state.