Calm Down Dear

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I’m trying to work out what I can and cannot write about gays. It’s tricky nowadays, because of sexual orientation legislation, not to mention the Mind Police. We’ve all read about the elderly Christian guesthouse owners, Mr and Mrs Bull, who were ordered to pay £3,600 damages after turning away two blokes who had booked a room in their B & B. Bringing your Christian beliefs into the workplace in respect of homosexuals is not actually a criminal offence, but it is unlawful and gays are able, and very liable, to sue if they’re ‘refused entry’ because of their sexual orientation. The law says that the Bulls were running a business – a B&B – and were not allowed, by law, to discriminate against people on the grounds of race, religion or sexuality. This means that if you have been brought up to believe that homosexuality is a sin in the eyes of God, that is no justification. Gays in a civil partnership have the same rights as everyone else. If you have discriminatory views about homosexuality, you can’t express them in public.

Neither can you use your religious beliefs as a reason for ‘discrimination’. Were the homosexuals in question also members of the National Front, any subsequent court action might be more sympathetic unless the prosecution could prove that the primary reason you refused entry was because of their sexual orientation rather than their politics. If you, as a B&B owner refuse, entry on the premise that you just couldn’t stand the thought of two men sodomising each other in your front bedroom and the prosecution could prove it, prepare yourself for a long stretch and say goodbye to your career in catering. If you commit an assault on the men or women concerned, it would be a hate crime and you would be mutton. The Police, aching to display their tolerance credentials, take this very seriously and some forces, like Suffolk, have run the Gay Pride Flag up the big pole at their Ipswich Constabulary Headquarters and another one in Bury St. Edmunds. Are the Police trying to show a good example? Or is there a problem with discrimination in Suffolk? Were the flags paid for under the PR budget?

There seems to be much confusion. Were you to be overheard mouthing off about gays in the pub or the locker room at a Cricket club, you could be reported to the police and taken to court. A close friend of mine, a girl who works for a powerful national magazine and occasionally writes for the Review, told me that discussing gays in the workplace is anathema: ‘we just don’t even mention the subject at work.’ The danger inherent in expressing incorrect views was brought home famously to Dr. Hans-Christian Raabe who was sacked from the advisory Council on The Misuse of Drugs because of views he had expressed in 2005 which linked homosexuality and child sex offences. The problem is that sacking this man, who is apparently well respected for his views on drug abuse, puts his controversial views in the public eye. In the end, he loses his job and the Gay movement is unnecessarily associated with the worst of all crimes in Britain today: child abuse.

The seriousness with which the courts take discrimination on the grounds of religious belief is evidenced by the level of damages awarded against Mr and Mrs Bull. £3,600 plus costs would be enough to put most people out of business. Tragically, they are now suffering further humiliation in the form of a hate campaign and phone calls from questionable ‘gays’ claiming to want accommodation and demanding to be paid off in advance. It’s almost reached a stage where you can’t mention the word homosexual without legal advice and, like most of us, I can’t afford longer than one and a half minutes in Cocklecarrot Chambers. Anyway, I haven’t got a ‘movement behind me’ and the Erotic Review is as skint as I am. Most of us dislike this modern form of Puritanism because of the uncertainty of the law and the detrimental effect it has on proper debate and freedom of speech. The concept of reporting people to the police or their employers because of what they say or think is almost upon us. Yet another nail in the coffin of personal freedom.

What is to be done? A story I wrote recently featured the behaviour of a homosexual Soho Rector whose questionable behaviour towards two other like minded men in his rectory resulted in his banishment from holy orders for two years. The reasons behind his punishment or references to his sexual orientation were never raised in the national press as far as I can see. Surely a senior churchman being kicked out of an ancient and important West London Parish is of great public interest? Who employed him and what is being done to remedy the damage he did? Why exactly was he removed from his parish? Is there an ‘issue’ (love that word) with homosexuality in the London Diocese? The problem for the media is that criticising the gay movement or even mentioning the word ‘gay’ in the workplace has become taboo. People are frightened of discussing in public their private opinion or prejudices about the behaviour of gays. The days of Private Eye referring to homosexual men as ‘sads’ or ‘pooves’ have long gone and in the last few years the change in public attitudes to perceived discrimination has been lightning fast. When I was a kid playing rugby in the 60s, we referred to gay men as ‘queers’ and ostracised them in sport. That’s all gone. The Kings Cross Steelers, the world’s first gay rugby club opened in 1995 and is thriving (there was a side in Sydney called the POOFTAS which started in 1985 but according to the Steelers, they only play touch rugby) England also leads the way in gay cricket with Grace’s side formed in 1996 and now playing in West London and Walthamstow with a healthy membership and a busy fixture list. To old farts like me, that’s all good stuff. Most people don’t give a fuck about men and women being gay. What they don’t like is the paranoid self-righteousness of activists who take Christians and Muslims to court and look for damages because of their targets’ well established religious beliefs. The law needs to be re-examined.

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