Tag Archives: homosexuality

BBC asks: “Should homosexuals face execution?”…Hynd’s Blog asks: “Is the BBC a sociopath?”

Last week I highlighted BBC Radio Bristol’s inappropriate question, “Is a victim of rape ever to blame for being attacked?

By forming this into a question, there is a tacit suggestion that there is a credible debate to be had; that maybe a man forcing his penis into a women against her will could be her fault.

It can’t.

I thought this was shocking and called for BBC Radio Bristol to remove the question mark and to clarify their position.

All I got was silence.

Apparently though the BBC has a bit of history. In the comments section for this article I was directed to this ‘BBC Debate’ that opens by asking:

“Should homosexuals face execution?”

To try and justify the question they added:

“Yes, we accept it is a stark and disturbing question. But this is the reality behind an Anti-Homosexuality Bill being debated by the Ugandan parliament”

The article then factually covers the bill before asking:

“Has Uganda gone too far?”

Again, by forming questions around these repulsive suggestions the beeb is offering a tacit suggestion that there is a credible argument to be made for the execution of homosexuals and that no, this wouldn’t be seen as ‘going too far’.

What next for beeb and their obsessive compulsion to make everything into an interactive question? ”Is it acceptable to beat a man to death with his own shoes if he looks at you strangely?”…

If a person asked any of these questions they would be treated as a sociopath. Should we judge the BBC with any different standards?

If you want you can make a complaint to the BBC, you can do it here.

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A victory for religious liberty

Friends Meeting House

Today’s announcement removes the assumption that religion and homosexuality are incompatible. In 5 weeks time, religious settings will be free, if they so chose, to host civil partnerships. It is shameful that in 2011 we still had a ban on religious organisations from hosting civil partnerships.

It should be reiterated that no religious group will be forced to host a civil partnership registration. For those religions that wish to host these ceremonies however this is an important step forward.

When those inevitable shrill voices pierce the media screaming of secular views being forced onto discriminated Christians, it should be made clear that this move holds no obligations. It is a form of deregulation if anything, the removal of barriers. A faith, such as the Quakers who have already decided to host civil partnerships will now be free to do so without the risk of facing persecution.

This is a victory for religious liberty that should be celebrated. The state has no place to interfere in these circumstances. A religion should be free, if it so chooses, to host civil partnerships. This is a step closer to the liberal society that I strive for whilst also breaking down some outdated discrimination.

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A walk of repentance for homophobia

Symon HillSymon Hill embodies the polar opposite of the sort archetypal Christian I address in my blog post “Do not use Christianity to justify your own homophobic prejudices“. In that blog I argued some Christians used their faith as a lazy excuse to perpetuate their own homophobic views.  This is stark contrast to Symon who is actively using his Christian views to question prejudice.

If some Christians are complacent in my previous criticism, then Symon Hill is there to challenge them (I might add from a far superior theological understanding to myself). On this occasion he is doing this by undertaking a walk of repentance for his previously held views on sexuality. He will walk 150-200 miles from Birmingham to London stopping at churches to raise awareness of the issue.

Symon has a powerful back story which adds weight to his walk. Earlier this year he told Pinknews, “I was fine with homosexuality and bisexuality before I became a Christian in my late teens. But after my conversion, I thought that opposition to same-sex relationships was ‘part of the deal’, even though my own sexual feelings had not been exclusively heterosexual (and still aren’t). This was partly out of a desire to fit in at the church I had joined. That church was very good in many ways, and had a very positive effect on me in other areas of my life, but I think they were severely mistaken about sexuality. Having adopted that view, I then campaigned against the ordination of ministers in same-sex relationships and spoke out strongly against Christian acceptance of
homosexuality.”

Symon is now repenting for the hurt he caused during this time. Interestingly for me, he has attracted wide-spread support from across different denominations. Symon suggests that this “is a reminder that there is growing acceptance of same-sex relationships across nearly all wings of Christianity. Church divisions over sexuality are not – as the media sometimes imply – a matter of “liberals” on the one hand and “conservatives” or “evangelicals” on the other”. In his words and actions he is giving reformers within all denominations a focal point and a voice.

I find his boldness and strength of conviction heartening. I have had the pleasure of previously attending a training session that he was running (on a completely different issue), and can vouch for his passion, integrity and enthusiasm. I would encourage anyone who is free to go and listen to him speak. I am sure he would be able to tackle the potential antagonisms between Christianity and homosexuality with more grace, composure and eloquence than I can ever hope to muster.

I wish Symon all the best on his walk. I am sure it will be challenging for him both physically but also emotionally. Let me know your thoughts if you go to hear him speak.

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Happy Valentine’s Day – gay marriage and religious civil partnerships to be allowed!

It has been reported by the Sunday Times, and repeated across bloggersphere that the Liberal Democrat equality minister Lynne Featherstone will announce a proposal to end the ban on same-sex marriage at the same time as the Government announces the timetable for civil partnerships to be held in religious buildings.

If these rumours are confirmed (and the home office currently has refused to deny them) on Thursday, then this will be a fantastic step forward towards equality in this country.  This issue has been at the centre of Peter Tatchells “equal love campaign” which has seen heterosexual couples applying for civil partnerships and homosexual couples applying for marriage. 

This is an incredibly important step for men and women of faith who wish to join their homosexual relationships in marriage.  This is as much a step forward for religious equality as it is for sexual equality. 

Commenting on the story Peter Tatchell said, “Gay civil partnerships are not good enough. They are not equality. In a democratic society, everyone should be equal before the law. All couples – gay and heterosexual – should be able to get married in a civil ceremony in a register office.”

Let’s keep our fingers crossed that Lynne is not forced to back down from this position between now and Thursday.  We can help by publically backing these plans.

Happy Valentine’s day!

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Do not use Christianity to justify your own homophobic prejudices

The King James Bible, does it tell us more about Jesus or King James?

The theological argument around Christianity and homosexuality has been a point of contention for generations now (especially in the US but also in Anglicanism). At best, in my opinion, the Bible is unclear about homosexuality. If anything the comments relating to homosexuality in the bible are more a reflection of specific moments in history when scripts have been translated than any original understandings of homosexuality. The gay Christians who interpret the Bible as being pro-homosexuality (other than in a broad equality sense) are as guilty of this as those who wish to exclude homosexuals from the Christian faith altogether.

As the argument claiming homosexuality is incompatible with Christianity is the most prominent, this blog will predominantly focus on these arguments. There are two passages in the Bible as well as the often stated story of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19) that people commonly quote in relation to homosexuality. Corinthians 6:9 and Timothy 1:10 have both been taken to mean that ‘homosexuals’ have no place in the Kingdom of God. Both stories can be better understood as an issue lost in translation. The words interpreted as ‘homosexual’ are much more likely to translate to something closer to ‘loose’ or ‘wanting self-control’, possibly ‘unrestrained’ than they are as “homosexual”. The modern inclusion of the word “homosexual” is much more likely to be a reflection of sexual norms at different periods of modern history.  To interpret these stories as referring to homosexuals is dubious to say the least. These passages though, have been interpreted by many to deny homosexuals any role within Christianity.

The most over quoted passage in relation to homosexuality remains Genesis 19 which deserves a slightly closer look as it is based less around translation issues and more around interpretive understandings of morality. The story of Sodom and Gomorrah was a story that aimed to highlight the morality around hospitality; the sexual undertones are minor, if there at all. The argument goes that Lot was giving hospitality to an unknown stranger, and the men of the city gathered to ‘know’ who this stranger was. The argument that this can be understood in term of homosexual relations is weak; to imply that God destroyed Sodom for this reason is weaker still. This story is also later referred to by Jesus (Matthew 10:14 15) where he implies the story has more to do with hospitality that homosexuality. He said “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. 15 Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town”.  It is worth thinking thought the cultural legacy hundreds of years on how we still use the term “sodomy”.

The status of hospitality over sexual morality is highlighted by the fact that when Jericho was destroyed by the Lord, the one person spared was a prostitute, despite prostitution being prohibited in Leviticus 19:29, because she offered hospitality. It would suggest therefore that the homosexual understanding of the story of Sodom and Gomorrah has more to do with modern and post-modernist understandings of sexual morality than it does with the story itself, which is based predominantly around hospitality. If we did choose to understand it in relation to sexual morality we have trouble explaining the climax of the story with Lot being seduced by his two daughters.

This does not stop homophobic politicians using the “teachings” of Christ to justify prejudice legislation. Indeed, despite the focus on America, it is clear that the UK introduced a series of homophobic measures that were justified in a traditional Christian moral basis. While homophobic legislation spread in pre-Clinton America it gained considerable support through the Thatcher premiership. Throughout the 1987 election campaign the Conservative party campaigned on a heavily homophobic stance with electioneering posters holding titles such as ‘Young, Gay and Proud…labour’s idea for good education for your children’. It was only in the early 1990’s that sodomy was legalised in the UK

Whilst the official discourse in the West is moving towards an acknowledgement of gay rights, the public opinion is struggling to keep up. This is resulting in an official acknowledgment of homosexuality, combined with a common disregard for it being there. It is worth considering when looking to further gay rights that we are moving from a very recent history of extreme homophobia, a lot of which is based in modern Christian moral rationale.

We have to stand up against those who blindly quote the bible to justify their own beliefs.

Do not use Christianity to justify your own homophobic prejudices!

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The only gay in the premiership

Gareth Thomas, the Rugby Union legend, has possibly taken the bravest step of his career.  He has “come out” that he is gay.  So what I hear people sigh!

This is a big issue for a number of reasons.

Gareth Thomas (Munster Vs Cardiff Blues) - Thanks to Clare Courier (flickr)

Firstly, Gareth is Wales most capped player, and perhaps more importantly he is still playing professional Rugby (for the Cardiff Blues). It is unprecedented for a Rugby Union star to come out whilst still a playing professional.  For a player of Gareth’s stature to come out it is incredible.  Players often shy away from this issue for fear of fans reactions, loss of sponsorship and lack of support from their clubs! For Gareth to face all this down and come out should be supported and acknowledged to be a truly brave act.  How the public reacts is incredibly important as it will set a precedent for all other gay sport stars who are thinking about coming out (at the moment in Rugby Union there is an openly gay referee but no player that I am aware of). 

Secondly, this is not just important for Rugby but sets a precedent for all other major sports.  At the moment, out of the 500 professional footballers in the UK, there are no openly gay footballers.  It is highly unlikely that this reflects the reality of footballer’s actual sexuality.  Footballers are role models for millions of people around the world.  To show that sexuality has nothing to do with your professional capabilities (or your ability to lead an ordinary life) would be incredibly positive.  Whether we like it or not, footballers are elevated onto pedestals by fans.  The only problem is they know more than anyone how easy it is to fall off that pedestal. Footballing history has not been kind to those who have not followed the script.

Justin Fashanu, the first million pound black footballer, came out and was hounded by fans and the public to such an extent that the coroner said it contributed to him committing suicide. We all remember the taunts that Grahame Le Saux received …all these chants seemed to be based on nothing other than the fact he read the Guardian and has a university education.  Le Saux was married…but he did collect Antiques!  Sadly, it was not just fans who taunted Le Saux, do you remember Robbie Fowlers taunts? http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/football/premier_league/article2419068.ece

Then there was the whole incident that involved heterosexual left back Ashley Cole.  The News of the World, wrongly, accused a premiership footballer of taking part in a Gay orgy.  This was not the interesting bit of the story.  What was interesting for me was despite not being named in the story; Cole went to extraordinary lengths to dispute the accusations even taking the paper to court.  Check out – http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/article-378786/Cole-sue-gay-footballer-orgy-claims.html

I have said before and I will say again.  There is no social force in this world more powerful than football.  If you want to change anything in this world, start with football.  Sadly, for improving the lives of millions of people around the world affected by homophobia this looks like a slow process.  The Football Association (FA) has introduced a ruling that puts homophobic chanting on a similar scale to racist chanting.  There has been scattered reinforcement of this ruling (especially at the Seagulls ground who suffer disproportionate abuse).  To say that the FA is a slow moving conservative body would be an understatement.  This ruling however, at least sets a target to aim. 

Hopefully, footballers will follow in Gareth’s brave example.  Having openly gay footballers will be one of the biggest steps towards a more equal society that we could take.  All secretly gay sports stars though will be looking on with great interest to see how fans, sponsors and club treat Gareth.  Let’s hope it is with respect.

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