“Society moves on, and moral attitudes soften, blur, or change entirely…”

In the Newsletter today, Alex Kane takes Ian Paisley Junior to task for his remarks on homosexuality. Towards the end he notes that ‘repulsion’ works along several axes in Northern Ireland: “I couldn’t help thinking that many homosexuals in Northern Ireland – particularly those of a unionist outlook – probably regard it as both perverse and obnoxious that his “partner” in junior ministerial office is a convicted and unapologetic terrorist!” But, he argues, things change.By Alex Kane

Repulsed is not a halfway house word. It isn’t one of those slightly ambiguous soft-in-the-centre words that you use to express mere annoyance or minor disagreement. It is a hard edged word, which leaves no room for misinterpretation; and it is the word which Ian Paisley Jnr used to sum up his opinion of homosexuals and homosexuality.

In an interview with this newspaper on Friday, he tried to backtrack a little, saying that the Oxford English Dictionary defined repulsed as disgust; believing, I suspect, that disgust is somehow a more acceptable word to use. He is being utterly disingenuous, of course, particularly when you remember that he has previously used the words perverse, obnoxious, offensive and immoral to describe homosexuality. Like so many who choose to attack the beliefs and lifestyles of others, he does so under the banner of “freedom of speech.” In this particular instance, though, I think that Ian is fundamentally wrong and that he has abused the freedom afforded to him as a public representative.

When the legislation was introduced—-a very long time ago—-to provide for civil or Registry Office marriages in the United Kingdom, the churches and assorted Christian-based organisations lobbied very strongly against it, claiming that it would debase the institution of marriage. Many of the same arguments were trotted out again when changes were proposed to the law governing divorce, and again, when the Civil Partnership Bill (which put homosexual couples on the same legal footing as heterosexual couples) was introduced in 2005.

The reality is that society moves on and that moral attitudes soften, blur or change entirely. I think the main churches themselves have actually done more to damage and debase the institution of marriage by allowing couples, neither of whom believe in God, let alone attend church, to marry “in the sight of God” and in “the presence of a congregation” most of whom are probably atheists or agnostics. If a minister is willing to marry a heterosexual couple who don’t darken his door before or after the ceremony, then why complain about couples who choose another form of marriage which is, at least, based on a more honest approach?

As an atheist I respect the beliefs of those, of whatever faith, who regard homosexuality as a sin and an affront to everything they believe. But it needs to be remembered that the law in the United Kingdom is neither dependent upon, nor determined by, the contents of the Bible, the Koran or the Talmud. I say that, not to diminish the importance of those doctrines, nor to offend those who believe in them, but simply to point out a legal and political fact.

Homosexuality is a fact of life and a way of life for hundreds of thousands of people across the United Kingdom. It is a fact of life too, for their families and friends. Indeed, I suspect that many of you reading this will know at least one homosexual, or maybe even a homosexual couple. Bear in mind also that homosexuality is not a criminal offence in the United Kingdom and nor is it a criminal offence for homosexuals to live together as a couple.

I have no doubt, either, that the level of emotional intensity between homosexuals is just as powerful and exhilarating as it is for heterosexuals. If they then want to take the relationship a stage further and make a formal, legal and lifetime commitment to each other I don’t believe that the state should stand in their way. Rather, it should, as the Civil Partnership Act has done, acknowledge and recognise the relationship and afford it equal rights, status and dignity.

Love is not a human or even a legal right. But in a world which is often hard and appalling capricious we should cherish and champion love and ensure that as few barriers as possible are put in its way. I am lucky enough to be in a long term and blissfully happy heterosexual relationship. If we ever have children who were homosexual I would expect them to have no inhibitions about telling us. I would give them the same advice as the others, while hoping that they would find someone they love and with whom they could share their lives. I would much rather see my children happy and loved, than see them inhibited, isolated and emotionally unfulfilled.

In an era when more than half of all church and civil marriages end in divorce (is Ian repulsed by those who turn their back on a promise they made to God in a church wedding?) and separation, leading to increasing numbers of lonely single people, should we really be standing in the way of, or condemning those, who have found the happiness that suits them? Homosexuals are not freaks of nature. They are mostly decent, ordinary, normal men and women who respond physically and emotionally to people of their own sex.

Ian is entitled to his view; although, as an MLA and now a Junior Minister, he must exercise caution when expressing it. While leafing through a pile of cuttings of his descriptions about Sinn Fein and the IRA (including comments about Gerry Kelly and Martin McGuinness) I couldn’t help thinking that many homosexuals in Northern Ireland—particularly those of a unionist outlook— probably regard it as both perverse and obnoxious that his “partner” in junior ministerial office is a convicted and unapologetic terrorist!

If Ian Paisley Jnr really does believe that homosexuals harm themselves and society, then perhaps he should reconsider his position in the department which allocates funding to gay and lesbian organisations. When your public duty conflicts with your private conscience, there is only one honourable course of action. I suspect, however, that he will simply demonstrate the sort of flexibility at which the DUP has become so adept since last October.

,

  • Sam Hanna

    Ian Paisley Jr is a hypocrite I accept but how many pink fascists and atheists conttol the media.

    A recent poll confirmed that the majority of people in Ulster support Jr’s right to express these feelings. Can we have some onjective commentators!

    Next, we will hear that it is wrong to be repulsed by incest, polygamy as attitudes to these has changed and equality is demanded as LOVE is something that cannot be changed.

    [text removed – play the ball only Sam – moderator]

  • joeCanuck

    Well said Mr. Kane.

  • Animus

    Great piece. I particularly like the last paragraph.

    Sam, if you have trouble distinguishing between a sexual relationship between two consenting adults and a sexual relationship between family members, I pity you.

    Where are all these pink fascists? Don’t you mean the gay mafia? If you cannot understand the difference between homosexuality and incest, I wonder if you understand what the term fascism actually means. I suspect not.

    I am delighted that social mores are changing: wife beating is now a criminal act, rather than a man’s right; child abuse is illegal, rather than just going a bit too far, racist abuse is punishable by law, rather than having a laugh. None of these changes, including acceptance of homosexuality, need to undermine the church. The church has grown and changed itself over the years, and has often mirrored societal change. Adapt or die.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    animus: “Sam, if you have trouble distinguishing between a sexual relationship between two consenting adults and a sexual relationship between family members, I pity you. ”

    Do you also pity the U.S. courts and the BAR, animus? The legal rationale used in cases dealing with homosexual rights is starting to appear in cases brought forward by those who would seek a similar “safe harbor” for incest and polygamy. Sam may be the proverbial “tipsy coachman,” but that doesn’t necessarily mean his comments are wholly without some inadvertant merit. (Disclaimer: I only see the redacted version of his post…) The logic of “what happens in someone’s bed-room is no one else’s business” can be spread over a great many things, not all of them healthy or wholesome.

  • Ziznivy

    Am I to gather that Mr Kane still has designs on more insemination at his age?

  • Derek

    Who’s up for Gay Sex education in schools?

    “Today children we are going to learn how to explore our G-Spots in strange and wonderfull ways”

  • Animus

    DC – which court is accepting this interpretation incest as equivalent to homosexuality? I would love to hear about this legal development. People offer all kinds of crazy rationale when faced with jail time.

    I’m not offering the whatever happens in someone’s bedroom defence, at least not in an unqualified way. If you see my third paragraph that should be abundantly clear. That’s the attitude which allowed abuse of many sorts to flourish. But talking about love as if all love is equivalent is ridiculous. But I have yet to see why gay love between two consenting men or women is markedly different than straight love between a man and a women. Surely gay consenting love is better than a straight case of stalking one’s unrequited love?

  • Porlock

    Sam,

    “Ian is entitled to his view; although, as an MLA and now a junior minister, he must exercise caution when expressing it.”

    I don’t see any part of the article—which I enjoyed—in which Kane denies the right of Paisley to express his own views.

    Also, I don’t see how a self-confessed atheist, who also happens to be a columnist,leads to your claim that “….and atheists control the media.”

    It always strikes me as pretty poor logic to argue that simply because you support Proposition A, you will go on to support B, C, D etc.

    Porlock

  • DC

    “While leafing through a pile of cuttings of his descriptions about Sinn Fein and the IRA (including comments about Gerry Kelly and Martin McGuinness) I couldn’t help thinking that many homosexuals in Northern Ireland—particularly those of a unionist outlook— probably regard it as both perverse and obnoxious that his “partner” in junior ministerial office is a convicted and unapologetic terrorist!”

    Hear hear Alex Kane, for once! I mean the kernel of the argument in the eyes of Paisley’s philosophical outlook is ‘harm to society’, well surely look at who he is in power with and his judgement is morally bankrupt.

    Paisley Junior and his dad are HYPOCRITES.

    Let’s run with that!

  • joeCanuck

    I wonder does Ian junior’s views on homosexuals extend to that personage so well beloved by the protestants of Northern Ireland.

    Reasonable evidence has been gathered to confirm the existence of a gay court circle, consisting of more than a dozen members including King William, Charles Talbot, Duke of Shrewsbury (who resigned his seals as secretary of state in January 1697/8), Bentinck, Van Keppel (the 20-year-old page who accompanied William to England and eventually received the title of Earl of Albemarle), Blathwayte, Wentworth, Ross, Roberts, Villiers, Cornwall, and Queen Mary and Frances Apsley.
    King William was widely believed to belong to the sodomitical brotherhood, but he defended his fondness for one of his courtiers: “it seems to me a most extraordinary thing that one may not feel regard and affection for a young man without its being criminal”.

    Source: The Gay Subculture
    in Early Eighteenth-Century London

    Copyright © Rictor Norton.

  • I wonder…

    I cannot but reflect that “Sam Hanna” is an abbreviation of “Sam Hanna Bell” whose prosaic exposure of the stultifying attitudes of NI was best expressed in his story “December Bride.” Thnak God (and Paisley) that such attitudes are now restricted to a lunatic fringe.

  • confused

    It has been stated on many message boards that the views of Ian Paisley exactly agree with the teaching of the RC Church.
    Does this come as a surprise?
    If one is wrong in putting forward these views what does that say about the other?

  • TAFKABO

    Who’s up for Gay Sex education in schools?

    Sounds like an emminently sensible idea. As a parent, I would have no problems with my kids being taught sex education, which included all forms of sexuality.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    animus: “which court is accepting this interpretation incest as equivalent to homosexuality?”

    Go back and re-read what I wrote, as opposed to the straw-man you wished I had written, animus.

    I am addressing your comment “Sam, if you have trouble distinguishing between a sexual relationship between two consenting adults and a sexual relationship between family members, I pity you.” Go back and make sure that is exactly what you wrote… Back? Good.

    What I said was is that the same logic used in petitions to the State of Massachusetts in support of gay-marriage and in the Supreme Court vis-a-vis “bestiality” are now being applied by petitioners for other sexual behaviors, including polygamy, actual bestiality and incest. If the logic of used successfully by the homosexual petitioners of “what happens between consenting adults in the privacy of their domus” is valid and, as expounded by yourself, to be lauded, on what basis can you, legally and rationally, deny these other behaviors the same rights as homosexuals or heterosexuals? You have already suggested that personal (and presumably, even community) disapproval is not a rational basis of denying rights, so on what basis do you say that one non-mainstream behavior is worthy of rights and another is not?

    I do find it amusing that the homosexual communities voices a desire that they be accepted for themselves, warts and all, yet seem utterly incapable of demonstrating the same capacity within themselves.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    TAFKABO: “Sounds like an emminently sensible idea. As a parent, I would have no problems with my kids being taught sex education, which included all forms of sexuality.”

    *chuckles*

    I think, TAF, your reaction would come down to who got to do the defining of terms and conditions. The devil is in the details, just as in any other topic.

  • Sam Hanna

    Can anyone explain to me what is so wrong with incest and polygamy if homosexuality is fine.

    All are unnatural according to the Bible but if you have no Bible then all are fine or are all the pink fascists here selective in their “equality.”

  • the Emerald Pimpernel

    Sam I am
    Most of us do not define ourselves or our morality in terms of the bible. Incest and paedophylia, the two terms are mostly interchangable, Is naturally viewed as wrong because they are both usually accomplished through physical or mental violence and leave the child scarred for life.

    in my opinion polygamy is usually viewed as wrong in our modern world because most polygamist societies usually stem from arrangements wherer fathers sell their daughters into servitude to an older male with little or no input from the girl.

    probably regard it as both perverse and obnoxious that his “partner” in junior ministerial office is a convicted and unapologetic terrorist!
    Convicted , yes
    Unapolegetic? I doubt very much he views himself as a terrorist nor feels the need to appologize any more than any one else who fights in an army

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Emerald Pimpernal: “Most of us do not define ourselves or our morality in terms of the bible. Incest and paedophylia, the two terms are mostly interchangable, Is naturally viewed as wrong because they are both usually accomplished through physical or mental violence and leave the child scarred for life. ”

    Actually, there are legal cases today — one in Germany, another in the United States, seeking to de-criminalize incest between consenting adults. This leads to the question — your assumptions (which I share, btw) of the “baseline” for incest, what *LEGAL* basis is there maintaining criminality of incest in the case of consenting adults, in light of the petitioner’s theory accepted by the courts in cases dealing with the decriminalization of homosexual behavior?

    EP: “in my opinion polygamy is usually viewed as wrong in our modern world because most polygamist societies usually stem from arrangements wherer fathers sell their daughters into servitude to an older male with little or no input from the girl. ”

    Which, on a transactional basis, was little different that what happened in the Western world, save that the wives occurred serially, rather than concurrent — Henry the VIII, rather than Solomon.

  • parcifal

    dunno about all the clever bollocks, but I do know that Roger Waters speaking of “The Wall” said:
    I did it( the album) because I wanted to challenge the abuse that happens in families and schools, and question how it can be stopped and not passed on to future generations.

    Breaking that cycle is what interests me, said Mr. Waters.
    Now who’s gonna argue with that?

  • Harry Flashman

    Polygamy is already receiving de facto recognition from the UK tax and welfare authorities in the situation where the marital arrangements took place legally overseas, it is absolutely logical to do so if one accepts the logic of homosexual marriage.

    As has been pointed out above there are currently two situations, one in Spain and one in Germany where adult siblings, who had been seperated at birth and upon being reunited became lovers, are seeking to have their unions recognised as legitimate. The relationships are between consenting adults, so why should the state interfere?

    To hear the shrieks of outrage from the liberal/gay lobby when the blindingly obvious is pointed out to them is to show up their hypocrisy. You cannot condone gay marriage and also condemn polygamy and incest between consenting adults, it is simply illogical.

    We crusty old reactionary bigots said this at the time, we were howled down, well for me it can all go hang. I’ve given up, gay marriage, bestiality, polygamy, incestuous marriage, necrophilia by last will and testament, it’s all the same to me now, my conscience is clear.

    You wonderful caring non-judgemental people started off down this slippery slope, enjoy the well paved road of good intentions as you enter the final destination.

  • Jocky

    Harry, Dread, your doing a great trade in false logic.

    For the state to deny someone the right to do something they have to prove that is harmful either to the individual or society. you cant ban something simply because it’s not your cup of tea.

    The slippery slope arguement is completely false, you cannot deny a right based on a hypothetical future arguement, it’s a nonsense, but a useful straw man to prop up your bigotry.

    Each right must be assessed on it’s own basis on the above criteria. So even if all those others are trying to use similar arguements to homosexuality then it is irrelevent to their case, see above criteria. It is quite clear there is harm done by incest, polygamy and for the specific case this is what should be argued when a scoiety decides to give or take away the right to that activity. Those that claim homosexualty is harmful are strangely lacking any evidence to back up their claims.

    If anyhting you can argue that there is more harm done but not having gay rights.

  • JoeBloggs

    Ian Paisley is entitled to his view. He can in his role also ensure that the rights of these people are protected in not being discriminated in the workplace etc. I disagree with these lifestyles but I am not going to go around criticising those who engage in it. However, it is not a normal way to live and children should not be educated in School about this issue in my opinion. If you want to see how a society that has normalised it now operates just look across the Pond at the great US of A. Nice place isn’t it? PS: I am a Roman Catholic.

  • Animus

    What if someone said being a Catholic isn’t a normal way to live and children should have no education in it? It’s all relative isn’t it? The best way to understand an issue is to develop an understanding of it.

    Tell us more about how the US has normalised gay lifestyles? It’s a big country and there are sharp divides; some places teach Creationism ffs. I doubt those same places are preaching the gospel of homosexuality on alternate days.

  • joeCanuck

    JoeBloggs

    What you say sounds reasonable, but do you really want children to grow up in ignorance about a lifestyle adopted by 5 – 10% of the population?
    Street corner education is a very poor substitute.

  • kensei

    “Each right must be assessed on it’s own basis on the above criteria. So even if all those others are trying to use similar arguements to homosexuality then it is irrelevent to their case, see above criteria.”

    Zing.

    Of course, no one is actually banning gay marriage. If some crazy Christian sect, or Buddhists, or New Age hippies want to marry people of he same sex, there is bugger all the state is going to do. It’s between them and God. What is actually being discussed is some next of kin rights and a few tax breaks.

  • Gerry Kelly

    http://www.news.com.au/adelaidenow/story/0,22606,21832250-912,00.html?from=public_rss
    Seems like the Dutch gays were giving their own form of education by raping abd infecting with AIDS. David Norris, the Protestant homo Senator, has also spoken about educational rape. Tony Blair wants the Catholic Church out of adoption so men couples can play mommy and daddy and have their own adopted cuddly kids to play with.
    Who here would want their orphaned kids given over the sodomites or Madeleine McCanns kidnappers? Anyone know how much larger the cases of homosexual child molesting are than heteros?
    I will make room for the priest bashers/diversionistrs now. These diseasae spreaders should stay firmly in their closet.

  • Animus

    That is a shocking story Gerry, but you may be interested to know that most children who are molested are molested by straight men, often well known to the family. Step-dads feature strongly. Most children who are murdered are murdered by dad as well. Perhaps on this basis, we should outlaw fathers on the basis that a very small percentage will kill or abuse their kids? Or perhaps just outlaw re-marriage? Hmmm, thought not.

    I would be happy for my orphaned child to be looked after by any couple who could provide materially for him. I would prefer that they weren’t religous, but as long as my child was well looked after, even that wouldn’t bother me (presuming I’m dead, it hardly matters). And as for sodomites, doesn’t that cover anyone who commits a range of sexual acts (including ones committed by married couples?) Why yes, it does. Many straight couples would be considered sodomites as well.

  • Harry Flashman

    Jocky,

    **For the state to deny someone the right to do something they have to prove that is harmful either to the individual or society. you cant ban something simply because it’s not your cup of tea.**

    In YOUR opinion polygamy and consensual adult incest are bad for society (I happen to agree with you) but that is just you imposing your moral values upon people who don’t share them.

    This is precisely the argument used against those who do not wish to see homosexuality promoted as a perfectly normal alternative to hetrosexuality. Those opponents of gay rights believe that the promotion of homosexuality is, in your words, harmful to individuals and society. The evidence in suicide rates, AIDS infection and general short life expectancy of homosexuals is every bit as persuasive as any against polygamy and incest.

    I am afraid that it is your logic that is faulty old son, you might disapprove of polygamy and consensual adult incest but once you allow the promotion and indeed legal protection of homosexuality then you have no right to protest against equal protection for the incestuous and polygamous, as I pointed out above these are not hypothetical future scenarios but ones which exist here and now.

  • PaddyReilly

    Can anyone explain to me what is so wrong with incest and polygamy if homosexuality is fine. All are unnatural according to the Bible

    Really? Who did Adam and Eve’s sons marry? Didn’t one of King David’s sons take a shine to his sister? Wasn’t another (Solomon) extremely polygamous?

    Jews actually still practise polygamy today, in the limited case of a man whose wife is mad and can therefore not be validly divorced.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Jocky: “The slippery slope arguement is completely false, you cannot deny a right based on a hypothetical future arguement, it’s a nonsense, but a useful straw man to prop up your bigotry. ”

    I am not making “a slippery slope argument” per se, insofar as I am discussing what is happening *NOW*, as opposed what *MIGHT* happen in the future. There are on-going legal cases seeking the decriminalization of incest between consenting adults based upon the legal framework used to decriminalize homosexual intercourse.

    Once you come up with a legal doctrine that amounts to “what happens in the bedroom stays in the bedroom,” what can one forbid?

    jocky: “Each right must be assessed on it’s own basis on the above criteria. So even if all those others are trying to use similar arguements to homosexuality then it is irrelevent to their case, see above criteria. It is quite clear there is harm done by incest, polygamy and for the specific case this is what should be argued when a scoiety decides to give or take away the right to that activity.”

    Really? What “social harm” is caused by three successful professionals — college educated, employed, etc., who want a polygamous marriage? I ask you this because *THAT* is going to be the test case, just as the test case being trotted up Germany re: incest are two adults of the age of consent and not a more stereotypical pairing.

  • young fella

    well done to all of you who have ranked homosexuals alongside (lets see if i can remember them all);terrorists,molesters,paedophiles,rapists,polygamists and kidnappers.god love ye when you meet a an actual homosexual and you find them to be a average decent human.you keep making comparisons to make yourself feel alien to these people,but the more you do that,the more you show the sane rational people how worried you are about your own sexuality.
    get a life,get over it.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    yf: “well done to all of you who have ranked homosexuals alongside (lets see if i can remember them all);terrorists,molesters,paedophiles,rapists,polygamists and kidnappers.god love ye when you meet a an actual homosexual and you find them to be a average decent human.”

    Apparently, reading for comprehension is a dying skill in some quarters. To give you a hint, sometimes the “how” of something is as important and the “what” of something. For example, Lawrence v. Texas (if I recall the citation) essentially created the bed-room as a safe harbor for consenting adults vis-a-vis homosexuals. Now, the legal issue was an antiquated law. However, while the end result (tossing out the conviction and the antiquated law in question) was not the harm, the manner in which it was decided — the “doctrine” that it created, if you will, opened the door to legal challenges on polygamy and incest, just to name the ones that have arrived in the court-house.

    yf: “you keep making comparisons to make yourself feel alien to these people,but the more you do that,the more you show the sane rational people how worried you are about your own sexuality. ”

    As I said, reading for comprehension seems to be a dying skill, replaced by childish sniping and pop-psychological diagnosis from the unlicensed.

  • Dawkins

    I’m with Alex Kane all the way, except for this:

    “As an atheist I respect the beliefs of those, of whatever faith, who regard homosexuality as a sin and an affront to everything they believe.”

    I have no respect whatsoever for the beliefs of peeps like the Paisleys. Such beliefs are nasty, vicious and inhuman, and lead to suffering. I don’t know how Alex can possibly respect them.

    Or am I misinterpreting his words?

  • Reader

    Dawkins: I have no respect whatsoever for the beliefs of peeps like the Paisleys. Such beliefs are nasty, vicious and inhuman, and lead to suffering.
    1) Religious rules are presumably meant to be non-human. That’s the point. But to an atheist, the rules can seem either archaic or arbitrary.
    2) Anyway – humans can be rather inhuman themselves.
    3) There are plenty of people who get their views of right and wrong from one book or another (Bible, Koran, Marx, Hubbard). It’s difficult to say whether it’s a fundamental problem with people, or they are all just using the wrong books…

  • Dawkins

    Reader,

    A thoughtful reply.

    Books? My rule of thumb is: if a book creates division then it’s a bad book.

  • Gerry Kelly

    I got the impression from the last chapters of Dawkins’ book that he was gay. It is certainly easy to see how the cossteted middle class could believe buggery and bestiality was subversive.

  • Stiofán de Buit

    Maybe it’s my libertarian streak, but can someone explain why, apart from the fact that it makes them feel icky, they believe an incestuous relationship between two consenting adults should be illegal?