Another person who will no doubt welcome the appointment is the Mail on Sunday's Peter Hitchens. Today, he's written one of the more bigoted articles I have read in many a month. Ostensibly it's an attack on Edinburgh City Council for taking two children away from their grandparents (I'm with him on that), but the first half is an outright attack on anyone who is gay. The headline reads WE SHOW TOLERANCE TO 'GAYS' AND GET TYRANNY IN RETURN. The inverted commas say it all. Here's what he writes, together with a short commentary from me in green italics ...
If I never again had to read or write a word about homosexuals, I would be very happy.
It's a free country. No one forces you to read or write anything you don't want to.
I really don’t want to know what other people do in their bedrooms.
Me neither. Yet you imagine that we all do.
But these days they really, really want us all to know.
Er no, I have no wish for anyone to know what I do in my bedroom, and in particular I have no wish to burden you, Mr Hitchens with the knowledge. You'd probably be very bored by it anyway.
And, more important, they insist that we approve.
Utter nonsense. It is immaterial to me, and I am sure everyone else on my side of the ballroom whether you approve or disprove.
No longer are we allowed to keep our thoughts to ourselves, while being polite and kind.
No one forces you to share your thoughts with us in your column.
We are forced to say that we think homosexuality is a good thing, that homosexual couples are equal in all ways to heterosexual married couples.
No you are not. And I, as a gay man, do not equate civil partnerships to heterosexual marriages. You imagine I do. Because you wish us to conform to your bigoted stereotype. You also imagine I equate gay adoption with straight adoption. I don't. I could explain why, but here's not the place.
Most emphatically, we are compelled to agree that homosexual couples are just as good at bringing up children as the children’s own grandparents. Better, in fact.
Oh give me a break. I know you are paid to be controversial, but would you care to point out anyone who has peddled a myth that gay parents are better than straight parents? You can't, but I suppose you thought it sounded good and fitted your agenda. I'm sure there are many gay parents who are indeed better parents than straight parents - but if they are, it's not because of their sexuality.
Many people who believe nothing of the kind now know that their careers in politics, the media, the Armed Services, the police or schools will be ruined if they ever let their true opinions show.
And just what are these true opinions? That we gayers are some sort of sub form of human life?
I am sure that many of them regularly lie about their views, to avoid such trouble.
How do you know? Have you lied, Peter? It is papers like yours which make people feel they are being threatened, when the truth is that it is only a few militants who behave in this way. 99% of gay people live perfectly normal lives and share the same values as anyone who isn't gay.
We cringe to the new Thought Police, like the subjects of some insane, sex-obsessed Stalinist state, compelled to wave our little rainbow flags as the ‘Gay Pride’ parade passes by.
Pathetic. If you don't wish to watch a Gay Pride parade, don't. I don't either. Not my thing. So I don't go, or watch. It's a free country.
And that’s another thing. We can’t even call homosexuals ‘homosexuals’ any more. This neutral word is not considered enthusiastic enough. We have to say ‘gay’. Which is exactly why I don’t, apart from in inverted commas.
But that's the thing. It is, as I say, a free country. You can call us what you like. You can call us 'poofs' or 'queers' for all I care, which I imagine is exactly what you do call us in private. The difference between us Peter, is that I will call you bonkers and bigoted in print, or to your face. Whereas you hide behind snide insinuations. Go on, tell us what you really think. You usually do. No need to be coy.
You think I exaggerate the power and fury of these forces? The totalitarian rage on this subject is quite astonishing. I have had several brushes with it, and been called rude names by its militants.
Diddums. No doubt you will classify me as a 'militant' because I have dared to disagree with you. I do not let my sexuality define me. It is part of who I am, but does not define who I am. I don't talk about it unless provoked by bilious articles like this. There's nothing totalitarian in me speaking out against you and your pre-historic views. We all know you would be far more comfortable living in another age and can't come to terms with the fact that we live in a society which gives equal rights to people like me. Tough. Deal with it.
Well, I can live with that. It’s my job. But what about a powerless pair of grandparents in Edinburgh, their grandchildren’s lives shipwrecked by the multiple horrors of our ‘liberated’ society?
Indeed. And you see, the rest of his piece is logical, well-argued and powerful. But he seems to think these kids were taken from their grandparents IN ORDER to give them to gay parents. That simply was not the case. If the little girl had a fear of men, as is reported, the last people she should have been placed with was two gay male parents. This whole story is about a social services department which appears to be out of control. It is not about gay rights or gay parenting. And yet by writing as he does in the first half of his article, Peter Hitchens makes it so.
UPDATE: A commenter reveals that I will be speaking on a panel with Peter Hitchens (and Ed Vaizey) at the Oxford Literary Festival on 5 April. I think you can safely say some sparks may fly. Book your tickets now.