Tuesday, August 11, 2009

What Unites Roger Helmer & Me

There's much spluttering on some left wing blogs today about a blogpost by Conservative MEP Roger Helmer in which he says he is against gay marriage and questions whether homophobia exists. Having failed to "get" Michael Kaminski, they are now turning their attention to Helmer.

The simple truth is that many gay people do not support 'gay marriage'. Civil partnerships yes, but not gay marriage. I have always taken the view that marriage implies a religious element to the proceedings, whereas civil partnerships do not. That's not to say that gay people can't be religious, but it is probably going one step too far for most religions (apart from Quakers) to endorse gay marriage as an institution. So to be against gay marriage does not imply homophobia.

Where I part company with Roger Helmer is his assertion that homophobia doesn't exist. He writes...
And while we’re mentioning semantic issues, let me point out that the neologism “homophobia” is not so much a word as a political agenda. In psychiatry, a phobia is defined as an irrational fear. I have yet to meet anyone who has an irrational fear of homosexuals, or of homosexuality. So to the extent that the word has any meaning at all, it describes something which simply does not exist. “Homophobia” is merely a propaganda device designed to denigrate and stigmatise those holding conventional opinions, which have been held by most people through most of recorded history. It is frightening evidence of the way in which political correctness is threatening our freedom. It is creating “thought crimes”, where merely to hold a conventional opinion is seen, in itself, to be unacceptable and reprehensible. I’m sorry, but I don’t buy it.

Well it's certainly an argument and I understand what he means by it being used by those with a political agenda, but to pretend that homophobia does not exist is to pretend that racism or sexism are figments of people's imagination too. There are plenty of black men who have been beaten up (or worse) as a result of racism. There are plenty of women who can attest to the fact that sexism is alive and well in our society, and there are plenty of gay men and women who have at one time or other suffered from various forms of homophobia. But, and there is a big but, the trouble with this area is that too many people on the left go looking for 'phobias' or 'isms' where none exist. For example, left wing bloggers seem to insinuate that by writing this article it proves Roger Helmer is himself homophobic. Balls.

If you can't tell a harmless joke about a particular nationality without being accused of being racist, if you can't tell a mother in law joke without being accused of being sexist, if you can't write an article questioning the concept of gay marriage without being accused of being homophobic, then it says a lot about the politically correct society we have become.

The thing about political parties is that they are broad churches or they are nothing. Political parties which seek to become narrow, moralistic sects will inevitably die or lose elections. The Left find it difficult to understand how Roger Helmer and I can be in the same party. I suspect we would both say that there is far more that unites us than divides us.


Unknown said...

Does Civil Marriage have a religious element Iain?

Anonymous said...

Homophobism rather than homophobia would make more sense from a language point of view, but I guess we're stuff with homophobia now.

Anyone who doesn't think it exists is an idiot. Think about two blokes kissing in a pub and then think about how long it'd take before someone says something rude to them or gets physical... not long is it?

John said...

'“Homophobia” is merely a propaganda device designed to denigrate and stigmatise those holding conventional opinions, which have been held by most people through most of recorded history.'

Nope, that's not homophobic, nope.

What would you have said if he had said that same thing about racism?

Civil Partnership Dissolution said...

Couldn't agree more. A lot of people can't tell the difference between a joke and people being offensive. The problem it's created is that people are too worried about being seen as being prejudice when they are not.

Biggy F'ing Smalls said...

So if I were to "wed" in a Registry Office I wouldn't be getting "married".

Dale, you're a fool.

Anonymous said...

Any comment from Roger on his group leader's whole hearted support for the Lisbon Treaty?

Iain Dale said...

Tom, no, it's effectively the same as a civil partnership.

John, no it isn't. But you don't seem to have read the bit where I say I disagree with his view on this. Instead you have read what you thought I would say rather than what I did.

Biggy, we can throw terminology around as much as we like. But registry office 'wedding's are in actual fact straight civil partnerships.

Anonymous said...

I think it's a shame you're wasting blog-space giving publicity to a particularly stupid blog by Roger Helmer. Homophobia is exactly what it says, an irrational fear, which develops into hatred. And what is all this nonsense about what 'most people' have thought over history - an excuse for mob-rule ? It's barely worthy of comment and should be shunned by the party for the rubbish it is.

SuperG said...

What he says makes perfect sense, some people do not like homosexuality, that does not make them irrationally fearful of it. I do not like 'Come Dancing', i really dislike it, and avoid it whenever possible, that does not make me irrationally fearful of come dancing.

The comparison with racism is false, as racism, not liking someone because of their race, is not the same as being irrationally fearful of them.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Iain, but your argument about marriage just doesn't hold water. As a matter of law a registry office marriage is a marriage, and no religious element is permitted, so why the difference for 'civil partnerships'. Just as a sop to keep the church happy (courtesy one T. Blair), as everyone knows.

commentor said...

So people who don't get married in church aren't married? Sorry, that's loopy.
Marriage is like Christmas - it may have started off being 100% religious ceremony, but now it's [also] a secular institution.

commentor said...

"The comparison with racism is false, as racism, not liking someone because of their race, is not the same as being irrationally fearful of them."

So let me get this straight... it's okay to be racist, but not out of fear? Deary me...

Unknown said...

Iain, if Civil Marriage doesn't have a religious element, and is effectively the same as a Civil Partnership, why should Gay people not be entitled to get married?

I agree that it is for religions themselves, rather than the state, to decide what constitutes a religious marriage. But as a consequence I don't think the state should treat gay partnerships differently under the law.

Anonymous said...

There is a distinction to be drawn between disapproval of homosexual behaviour and an irational fear of homosexuals (homophobia). To suggest that the latter does not exist is to demonstrate a rather basic ignorance of cases that have come before the courts.

Donut Hinge Party said...

Of course there's fear in hatred - racial, sexual preference or gender, and I'm not just channeling Yoda in that.

Without fear, no-one would give a rat's arse about the proclivities of other people. With racism, it's the fear that people who look different might be dangerous or even subhuman; with sexism, it's the possibility that subservient women might start making reasonable demands or even squeeze out males from the job market, and with homophobia it's the fear that somehow a sexual proclivity to those of the same sex is catching, that gayness is somehow conflated with paedophilia and that our kids might grow up being told that homosexuality is compulsory. The religious thing is a sop, because we can all whisk out pieces from the Bible about things that are banned, but when did you last see the Church of England split over Top Shop making coats of two cloths?

It's an irrational fear with no basis of fact, and thus it is a phobia, unlike my perfectly rational fear of grapes (Shudder).

Anonymous said...

"There is a distinction to be drawn between disapproval of homosexual behaviour and an irational fear of homosexuals (homophobia)."

Disapproval implies that an individual is in a position to approve or not. If a friend of mine has a ghastly wife, the thought of whom causes me physical discomfort, but he loves her, I'm not going to let it change the way that I deal with him, much less start campaigning for the rights to call people Ugly Wives in public.

Roy said...

Iain, you're tying yourself up in knots a bit: if civil marriage == civil partnerships in your eyes, then why shouldn't gay people be entitled to have a full civil marriage?

I certainly would never advocate a legal situation that required churches to perform marriages of same-sex partners, but equally there are some liberal denominations that would like to be able to do such, but currently can't. What about their rights?

Sam said...

Two things: Firstly, on a narrow semantic line homophobia and racism are different. Notice that 'phobia' on the end. If you changed 'racism' to 'raciphobia' it would not make sense for a number of cases as well. Does the coward who throws a rock through a black family's window do so out of fear? Unlikely. More likely they are doing it out of prejudice or a incorrect belief in their superiority. However, insofar as 'homophobia' has come to mean a by-word for fear or discrimination against homosexuals then it definitely exists and is still a major problem.
Second thing is the difference between civil union and 'marriage'. Tom says we should let the churches decide, and he is right. If a progressive church chooses to allow gays and lesbians to hold their services there, then all strength to them. But if same-sex marriage is made the law of the land, then churches would cease to have the choice, as those that refuse would run foul of discrimination laws and run the risk of losing their marriage licences. For example see http://www.christian.org.uk/news/20090703/pro-marriage-earl-sells-heirloom-to-meet-costs/

Benny said...

Tom - There's no such thing as a Civil Marriage. They're all hell!

Anonymous said...

Look, as a straight married man, let me say it's time for government to get out of the business of marriage.

Marriage, as far as law and government are concerned, is basically a civil contract concerning the arrangement of the relationship and personal property of two adults. Let it be that for all people - straight, gay, bi or whatever.

Let these contracts be called Civil Unions or Civil Marriage Contracts or whatever the hell you like, for all people regardless of gender or sexuality. Then, when you've got that piece of paperwork dealt with, you can go to the church of your choice and get the marriage ceremony taken care of. Or not. If you're religious, you can have your rituals and ceremony; if you belong to a religion that rejects gay marriage, you should be happy because no gays will ever undergo any ceremony that would be recognised as a marriage by your church (since most churches don't acknowledge civil marriages even for heterosexuals).

Anonymous said...

I object to the word "homophobia" because it is extremely poor grammar. The "homo-" part is from the Greek "homos" meaning "the same", so homophobia literally means "fear of that which is the same as you". Which, granted, might be applicable in some cases but not all.

Mind you, I also to the word television because it's an abortion that's half-Latin and half-Green.

Anonymous said...

Helmer's point about homophobia seems to be at root an etymological one, and insofar as this is the case it is correct: 'homophobia' is a silly word. Coinages such as this are what happen when people stop being taught Greek at school!

The word implies that prejudice against homosexuals is a mental disorder. This actually lets people with unpleasant opinions off the hook, by bracketing them with irrational but harmless fears of spiders, open spaces etc.

Racism and sexism are perfectly sensible words, and carry no such connotation. Nasty attitudes towards homosexuals belong in the same category.

Chrome Diplomat said...

While it is true that there is somewhat a semantic difference between 'ism's and 'phobia's the fact is that homophobia is phonetically easier than 'homophobism' and that is why we call it homophobia rather than something else.

However, it is perfectly clear that in actual meaning of the word homophobia is in the same category as racism or sexist in English words can have different roots but it is the popular meaning of them which is the important thing (for instance inflammable should, technically speaking mean not flammable...but I wouldn't recommend setting fire to something to find out).

To conclude therefore that homophobia only means the irrational fear of gay people is simplistic, petty and devalues the fact that there serious issues of prejudice which gay people have to face.

On another note: 'merely propaganda designed to denigrate and stigmatize those holding conventional opinions, which have been held by most people through recorded history'??!! What he means is in the judeo-christian bible- or is he claiming that the Greeks frowned on homosexual relationships (ie talking utter shite).

Also I agree with other commentators on the use of civil marriages, it may be identical to a gay civil partnership but forcing the distinction is yet another means of undermining and devaluing a gay relationship.

While they may be lots that unties you on other issues Iain I cannot for the life of me understand why you would try and defend even half of what Helmer has said and why you don't just except that on some issues some Tories are, heaven forbid, nasty pieces of work.

Quietzapple said...

Pretending there is no such thing as homophobia seems to me to permit more freely the promotion of homophobia and so have much the same effect.

Owning the language and especially key terms is often critical in the currency of any argument.

Moins ca change . . .

Dick said...

There are an awful lot of people commenting here (including Iain it seems) that can't or won't see the difference between the 'irrational fear' of homosexuality (what Helmer argues does not exist) and the disapproval that some have.

I don't believe that all those that are shouting Helmer down are as thick as they seem, so it must be a deliberate misreading.

Helmer is arguing (probably futilely) that the word 'homophobia' is being misused, much like the word 'gay' was hijacked.

Anonymous said...

Sam, the 'ism' at the end of racism and sexism is short for 'schism'; it's an attempt to compartmentalise people as somehow 'other'. My race = good / your race = bad. My sex = superior / your sex = inferior. An individual reinforces their own life by demonising or diminishing the lives and achievements of others, and they don't do it for fear of the the other, they do it for fear of themselves; that the reason they can't get a job might mean that they're lazy, that the reason they can't keep a woman might mean that they're a terrible partner.

Technically, I suppose it should be Sexualpreferencism, but as the bishop said to the politician in the men's room, that's a bit of a mouthful.

Russell said...

"Racism", if it means anything at all, describes a disposition to take part in races. Racially prejudiced would be the correct term. Helmer's a bit off course about the idiotic "homophobia", however, since if interpreted literally it would mean an irrational fear of human beings (homo sapiens).

But he's dead right about political correctness, which is an insidious and dangerous form of censorship; it's designed to inhibit unfettered thought and free speech by making it literally impossible to express prohibited concepts, as Orwell pointed out with the invention of Newspeak.

These concocted, meaningless slogan words which a tiny Left-wing thought police force seeks to impose, not merely upon our everyday speech and writing but upon our very thought processes, demean not only language but humanity itself and must be resisted at all costs.

The other point is that in some quarters, being accused of an imaginary crime by some politically correct half-wit seems to have taken on the full symbolic weight of having already been tried by jury and found guilty. Whereas of course anyone can make meaningless "accusations" and publish them; it doesn't mean they should be regarded as having any substance.

Andrew Falconer said...

Iain I think you are wrong in this. Married straight couples do not differentiate between a church wedding and a registry office. Why should we? Many churches and faith groups around the country want the right to conduct partnership ceremonies but are currently denied that. Have a look at www.petitions.number10.gov.uk/gayfaith and you'll see the diversity of Christian's who want to see this change.

AJJM said...

Iain, what are your thoughts on my following idea for a marraige system? (Bear in mind I'm posting from a religious background)

All couples can get a civil marraige from the government. These marraiges offer the exact same rights as Marraige from the Church does now.

Then if the couple are religious, they can supplement this civil marraige with Marraige in a Churh.

gustavus said...

If a homosexually-oriented person is opposed to homosexual marriage, homosexual adoption and regards homosexual acts as intrinsically immoral, does that make him a homophobe? A "self-hating" homosexual?

There are plenty of people in the above situation, whether for religious or philosophical reasons. Helmer is right to observe that the term "homophobia" is as good as worthless. It has become another in the catalogue of heresies policed by the Left's New Inquisition.

Prosecute people for offences against other people -"gay bashing" is, after all, against the law in any case by virtue of being assault. Don't prosecute people for their thoughts or speech.

Duncan Cookson said...

I think maybe another word should be found. Doesn't homophobia really mean an irrational fear of the same? Or of men if you use the latin homo it means a fear of men. Maybe homophilism or sexualism would be better. Whatever you call it the prejudice exists. I would go onto to say that because homosexuality is almost certainly not completely genetically determined but also influenced by social/cultural factors you should really be allowed to be 'against' homosexuality without being prejudiced against it. Especially since an aversion to homosexuality might have a genetic component that helps the human race perpetuate. It's a fine line though. Expressing a preference for heterosexuality shouldn't really be considered a prejudice, but then people tend to favour things that they prefer or are familiar with. That's why with minority groups you sometimes have to over-compensate, with affirmative action for example.

Fausty said...

The best way to fight political correctness is to refuse to shut up.

The more of us that do this, the more successful will be our bid to get rid of it.

Cameron has proved this by failing to be cowed by Labour's repeated "racisim" jibes IRO immigration.

Labour is beside itself that their tactic no longer works.

Keep speaking up and turn the volume up.

Anonymous said...

I am gay. I go to church every Sunday. I am in a Civil Partnership. The ceremony at Chelsea Town Hall had no religious element. It was not a "wedding", although the legal effect is identical. I am not in favour of "gay marriage". The Bishop subsequently gave a blessing at home in front of friends and family. Gay people do not all think the same. I even have a gay friend who votes Labour.

Anonymous said...

Conservatives should be very careful of getting bogged down with issues like this.

Legally, marriage is no more than a bit of paper issued by a government.

While we engage in the rights and wrongs of "gay marriage" etc, socialists are busy creating a centrally-planned economy where people are kept in check by a police state.

Nothing pleases them more than to see their opponents engaged in futile internal squabbles.

Forge Lindin said...

Am a left-of-lefty, (but? :P) can recognise common sense when I see it.

Very brave post, good on you for writing it.

Unsworth said...

Depends on your definition of 'Homophobia', doesn't it? Where most of these arguments fall down is the lack of clarity as to exactly what the terms may mean. And that is Helmer's position.

I find it particularly wearing when people just bandy words about without really knowing what they are saying. Come to think of it, most politicians do it all the time - to the point of inarticulacy.

So, define 'Homophobia'. Or are we to have the same wooliness as we do with 'Racism', 'Sexism', and 'Ageism'?

Unsworth said...

@ Anon 11:42 AM

"Think about two blokes kissing in a pub and then think about how long it'd take before someone says something rude to them or gets physical... not long is it?"

Suppose it depends on what they kissing.....

golden_balls said...

I did wonder whether you would enter this debate and i applaud you for doing so iain.

Every party has diverse opinions on many issues and i think thats what makes politics so interesting. You don't have to agree upon everything.

I'm quite happy with the civil partnerships i think in time things will progress but not for many years.

do you think he'll be popping along to your canal street shindig ? invite him along it might just change his mind lol or perhaps not.

Tom David said...

Iain - I think Roger Helmer does seem frightened of some gay people - i.e. the people he sees as stiffling his free speech. This is certainly not a case of the left looking for phobias where none exists. Helmer talks about what people having the right to do what they want 'behind closed doors'.

That's not good enough, people on the left and hopefully people like you on the right are also concerned with what happens out of doors, for example tackling homophobic bullying in schools so that the gay kid in the class who happens to be naturally camp doesn't keep getting beaten up because of something he can't hide 'behind closed doors'.

Quietzapple said...

I can find better objections to the posts of Anonymous than this, but this amuses:

a·non·y·mous (ə-nŏn'ə-məs)
Having an unknown or unacknowledged name: an anonymous author.
Having an unknown or withheld authorship or agency: an anonymous letter; an anonymous phone call.
Having no distinctive character or recognition factor: "a very great, almost anonymous center of people who just want peace" (Alan Paton).

[From Late Latin anōnymus, from Greek anōnumos, nameless : an-, without; see a-1 + onuma, name (influenced by earlier nōnumnos, nameless); see n-men- in Indo-European roots.]
a·non'y·mous·ly adv., a·non'y·mous·ness n.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Tom,Look at MT;s Thathcer, she stood up to the IRA ,Hatton, Scargill, Grant ,Livingstone and Jack Jones, but I felt the selling off of council houses so cheaply and the destruction of the NHS and the cuts that led to the rise in poverty also leading to crime rising so much we wrong,but I had more in common with her than the loony left ,but it still doesn't mean I support what she did, I wouldn't have been prepared to vote for a party that turned a blind eye to the above ,so I couldn't say i would want to be in a party with those people anymore than i would weant to be in a tory party with this idiot

Anonymous said...

Marriage exists as a civilised way for people to live together - to commit together - and usually bring up children in a responsible and legally enforced environment.

That is the purpose of marriage. If people chose to live together they give up certain rights and obligations.

Whatever commitment same sex partnerships bring the situation is not a marriage. I happen to think that they should not be regarded as such. However I think such a commitment is entirely laudable - but the anomaly is that two brothers or two sisters or two friends cannot chose to nominate one or the other for legal and tax reasons as a civil partner.

Kim said...

my point would be that, regardless of what your views on the definition of 'gay marriage' and 'civil partnership' are, Helmer does not make any such distinction in his post. in my opinion, he is using the term 'gay marriage' as a catch-all to include any formal legal partnership arrangement. True, that isnt 'homophobic' - he isnt saying it because he's mortally afraid of gay people - but it is, in my opinion, unhelpful and belies his prejudice. Its not like he's saying gay marriage is out but civil partnerships is fine. he's saying he doesnt like any of it and that gay couples have a less important role in society than hetero couples.

Anonymous said...

Iain, perhaps we should rename your blog 'Uncle Iain's Cabin'.

neil craig said...

The term "phobia" does improperly up the ante. One may have a limited amount of prejudgement against a particular point of view (eg people who would, knowing nothing else about them, vote Labour or Conservative rather than BNP). Technically this is a prejudice in that it is judgement in advance. In the same way insurance companies have a prejudice against young, recently qualified male drivers compared to elderly nuns. In such circumstances even prejudice (literally prejudgement) is not necessarily wrong.

Such examples are very far from phobia. There are places where gays risk physical attack from those who hate them (normally assumed to imply fear though that may not be true) but I do not believe Roger Helmer is likely to be a member of any such gang.

Orwell described it well when he said how Newspeak was designed, by changing the language, to determine opinion.

Johnny Norfolk said...

Good post Iain. I suspect most people would agree with you on this. The left are so much the nasty people in politics.

Paddy Briggs said...

"marriage implies a religious element to the proceedings"

What a very odd view. My wife and I were married 40 years ago next month. It was not in any way religious (Acton Registry Office since you ask). Neither of us is religious - but we do belive in MARRIAGE - if not in God! We were MARRIED. We are MARRIED. And we have enjoyed a long MARRIAGE. What other word would you use???

some2199 said...

It's not necessarily homophobic to oppose gay marriage, but there are homophobic arguments against gay marriage, and I think Helmer's is one of them.

The problem with the word 'homophobia' is not that it means 'fear of the same' or even 'fear' - does Helmer really want us to say 'homosexualphobia' or something equally tongue-twisting? The problem is that it only seems to capture the personal element of prejudice, opposed to the virtue of tolerance. Homophobia really extends to the political arena as well, in terms of the denigration of gay relationships, denial of recognition etc.

peter_dtm said...

I see everyone has forgotten that Marriage in the UK consist of two separate sections - one compulsory and one voluntary.

The compulsory bit - the signing of a contract in front of a Registrar to legally record the CIVIL contract that the STATE recognises. The Registrar MAY be a civil servant (as found in Registry Offices) OR a priest or other AUTHORISED person.

In that respect a civil partnership IS identical.

The other part - the voluntary part - is the religious ceremony - in the Church of England (and most Christian denominations) this is the Holy Sacrament of Marriage. Note that some of the smaller religions/religious sects their priest/holy man/shaman are NOT Registrars so therefore they have to have the Civil and Religious ceremony separately from the Religious ceremony.

In that respect please; Marriage has a specific meaning to most religions. Some religions do not recognise partnerships between homosexual partners; and as far as some one's right to get 'married' groups also have a right to hold their religious beliefs - a right of free association & why would anyone wish to force their presence onto a group who (for what ever reasons) do not wish to have that person as part of their group ?

Stephen said...

Thank you very much Iain for writing about this topic with such restraint and common sense and without resorting to the kinds of vitriol that often appears with discussions of this sort from both sides.

Thank you especially for considering the point of view of many religious people regarding the significance of marriage and not lumping together all opposition to gay marriage in with the gay bashers and homophobes.

Yours Sincerely,

The Purpleline said...

Iain, why do you always fall into the trap, only White people can be racist.
Your comment: ‘There are plenty of black men who have been beaten up (or worse) as a result of racism’. Please note Black people have attacked White people in pure racist terms and more frequently, Asians have attacked White and Black people. So please make an amendment in your blog.


‘There are plenty of women who can attest to the fact that sexism is alive and well in our society’ and I am sure some men as well.

and there are plenty of gay men and women who have at one time or other suffered from various forms of homophobia. And Homosexuals have used their homosexual inclinations & positions to attack in various forms straight people.

What I am saying it should be down to individual experiences you cannot make blanket statements. I do feel there is a cult to being Gay during these times; if you are not in the club so to speak then you are square.

Jonforest said...

John, well, I for one would say that, to a very large degree, racism has become "a propaganda device designed to denigrate and stigmatise" people who do not sign up to the left's extreme PC multicultural doctrine.
I have never considered myself better or superior to anyone because of race, disliked anyone because of race or wished anyone any harm because of their race but I do think that this country has allowed vastly too many immigrants of alien cultures and races to move here.
That's definitely enough in some people's eyes to make me a racist but I suspect it is a position shared by a majority of people (and certainly would have been in the past).
Equally, I have never felt a moment's ill will to any of the many gay people I have come into contact with over the years (at least, not based on their sexuality) but I do not think it is necessarily unreasonable to make the argument that same-sex relationships should not receive the same status in law and the same tax breaks as conventional marriage.
Nor do I think it was particularly unreasonable that this country had a law that made it illegal for a 40-year-old man, for example, to have sex with a 16-year-old boy.
Personally, my only real complaint about gay people is that the free ads for the gay sex channel are aired right next to Sky Sports One on my tv set. One mistaken flick of the button and I'm suddenly in the world of gay sex orgies and I do not find them a pretty sight.

Unknown said...

With respect, Iain, no, it's not "like pretending racism doesn't exist". No one denies that discrimination and prejudice against homosexuals exist. No one denies that (sadly) homosexuals may be subject to abuse, threats or even violence (which by the way I forthrightly condemn). My point is that no one has an irrational fear of homosexuals, and that therefore the word "homophobia" cannot describe a real condition. The term is also used to imply that those who are less than fully-paid-up supporters of Stonewall are suffering from a psychiatric disorder. Which is why I say that this neologism is not so much a word, more a propaganda device.

Roy said...


"Marriage exists as a civilised way for people to live together - to commit together - and usually bring up children in a responsible and legally enforced environment.

That is the purpose of marriage. If people chose to live together they give up certain rights and obligations.

Whatever commitment same sex partnerships bring the situation is not a marriage."

Why? What's different about two people of the same sex wanting to commit to an intimate relationship together as opposed to two people of opposing sexes? The potential for children? What about infertile couples then? Are their relationships "not a marriage"? Wha about couples (like myself and my wife) who chose not to have children? Does that make ours "not a marriage"?

Anonymous said...

If you want to see some proper homophobia go to neoconservativehants.blogspot.com

Roy said...


"I do not think it is necessarily unreasonable to make the argument that same-sex relationships should not receive the same status in law and the same tax breaks as conventional marriage."


"Nor do I think it was particularly unreasonable that this country had a law that made it illegal for a 40-year-old man, for example, to have sex with a 16-year-old boy."

But it was OK for a 40-year-old man to have sex with a 16-year-old girl, and for a 40yo woman with a 16yo boy, and, for that matter, a 40yo woman with a 16yo girl, all of which were (and still are) legal? Argue that there should be a maximum allowed age difference in sexual relations for young people perhaps, but I don't see how you can argue that criminalising just one of the four possible combinations is "reasonable".

Francis said...

Homosexuality is of course an objective disorder, but that should not mean we don't love homosexuals to the same extent as the rest of our fellow men. Whilst homosexual acts are always wrong, I've always taken the line 'hate the sin, love the sinner'.

So-called homophobes who evince hate and malice towards homosexuals are mistaken. Would they hate a cripple for their infirmity, a leper for their disease? It is part of God's will that some men should come into the world with unnatural desires, and no reason to exclude them from the light of our love and the protection of our fellowship.

Philipa said...

You forgot to mention the white people subjected to racist aggression by black people. Namely me. It was pointed out to me that there are now streets where white people are no longer allowed.

Quietzapple said...

Two points, just because:

Mrs Thatcher voted FOR Leo Abse's bill in the 60s which legalised male homosexuality. Does anyone understand how so, when she was so keen on the prohibition of not very much in the way of gay education in the '80s?

And why do not those on the right who have civilised socio-sexual views not object to the revolting expressions of Gerald Warner on the Telegraph - "Pantywaiste" Obama being an oft repeated example?

Personally I don't have a problem with gay marriage, or civil partnership.

Heterosexual couples are not committed by either union to procreation, which together with motivating loyalty to the state, is traditionally the root of marriage as encouraged by the Romans among their soldiers.

Social cohesion is a desirable goal, and the means to it should be practical, and personal. In my belief Christianity is following Christ, not His wine and Wafer parties.

But, within limits, whatever makes you happy . . .

Anonymous said...

Dick: "...much like the word 'gay' was hijacked."

Batten down the hatches lad - you've just committed pink blasphemy.

Glyn H said...

Excellent post Iain; had to cut short a much longer earlier draft(supper); but Helmer is of course a hero and I proudly display his sticker on my daily driver 'Love Europe. Hate the EU'. Yesterday a commenter gave the Trabant - built for Siberia not Suberbia sign but the best one of those I recall was 'Daimler Owners Employ A Man To Do It' As a friend of Crewe built motor cars this was cheeky but as BMW userped the ultimate driving machine crack which should have belonged to those unreliable but when on form splendid V12 Italian cars ....

Little Black Sambo said...

A civil partnership is not identical to civil marriage at present. The marriage contract has explicit content, while the partnership is content-free: the registrar marries you on certain conditions, but admits you to a partnership on request, or so I have been told. However, there are grounds for ending a civil partnership which would suggest that we are meant to think of civil partnership as equivalent to marriage, since ending it is similar to divorce, even though the Government denied that that was what they intended.

Jess The Dog said...

Probably said already but...

The state has a duty to equality and various other rights which it discharges through the civil partnership, in the same way as for a registry office wedding. Civil partnerships (and the lifting of the bar on gay men and women serving in the Armed Forces) is one of the very few things this government has got consistently right. There is no need for the state to go further with regard to the various religions and faiths in the UK.

Although the Church of England is the "established" church without a formal separation of church and state, membership of (communion with) the Church of England is not obligatory, and there is no requirement for participation in its ceremonies and sacraments in order to attain certain rights of citizenship or recognition of partnership. The relationship between the state and the other churches, faiths and religions is even more remote.

It's a matter for the churches, their congregations and ecclesiastical authorities as to same-sex marriages. The Quakers have made an admirable decision but that is also very much in keeping with the traditions of their faith and entirely a matter for their congregation.

Put simply, same-sex marriage is in fact allowed through the civil partnership (in the same way as a registry office marriage) and it's up to churches, faiths and religions as to what they do in relations to sacraments and ceremonies same-sex relationships. I also suspect that any attempt to impose a requirement for same-sex marriage on certain non-Christian faiths would not be well-received by followers.

Philipa said...

Quietzapple - one can be in favour of legalising whatever consenting adults want to do to each other (within acceptable limits of physical harm) without promoting such things to children. If you're going to promote sodomy to children then in all fairness to the subject you should also promote all other kinds of sexual gratification; S&M, water sports, fecophilia, hybristophilia, oral sex etc. This would be very useful learning as when the children get older they will be prepared for the government shitting all over them.

Or alternatively schools could do what they're supposed to.

Traditional Tory said...

Iain I am going to shock some people now by saying firstly thank you for posting this article because it has given us on the traditional Conservative right food for thought, but I disagree with some of your reasoning here.

I am one of those Conservatives who do not agree with civil partnership because I believe it legitimizes homosexual relations which I believe is against Christian belief. You are right to divorce 'civil partnership' from marriage but you fail to see that the move towards equality was triggered by the goal of obtaining the same rights as married couples. I do not agree with civil partnerships in general because it goes against the teachings of the Christian bible. I also agree that religion and politics are to some extent inextricably linked when we talk about morality.

The same can be argued when we look at Section 28 as a case study. It was based on a moral precept and an understanding (which I also believe to be true) that homosexuality should not be promoted in education as its not the role of the state to do so... I also bring my own Christian understanding to the equation and believe its morally wrong to teach about homosexual relations - but thats from my own religious interpretations.

I would like to answer the first post by Tom who says "Does Civil Marriage have a religious element Iain?" - My answer to that is its based on the objective of gaining the same rights as married couples.

Now some of you may criticize my post as being homophobic but let me be clear - I am a Christian who believes in the traditional definition of marriage and would like to see the end of civil partnerships for the moral sensibility of society. I also believe the state should not intervene in such matters and this is also behind my reasoning why I feel the abandoning of section 28 is wrong.

I have nothing against homosexuals and believe that they should practice whatever lifestyle they want BUT I also want to uphold the institutions that make up our society, and I believe a lot of like minded Conservatives feel the same way.

Anonymous said...

I do not agree with Civil Partnership because its morally wrong.

Terry Hamblin said...

A lot of the comments seem to me about semantics. The misuse of words by the uneducated is already a lost cause. What is objectionable is the use of these misuses to bully those who don't go along with them. In many peole's opinion, homosexuality, is a phase of growing up that a few people never pass through properly. We might pity them or not care tuppence about them; what is not acceptable is to pillory or bully them. I dislike seeing them snogging in public, but then I dislike seeing any couple, whatever their sexes, doing so. Civil partnerships were a sop by this government to allow homosexuals to take part in the civil advantages of marriage, but the change in law is being used by some homosexual people to pretend that it is the same as marriage. Marriage itself has been degraded by the easiness of divorce, and the removal of all religious elements when it is conducted in a Registry Office. Failure to allow two elderly sisters who live together a civil partnership proves that the change in the law was a sop to the 'gay' community rather than a help to those genuinely disadvantaged by marriage laws.

Jonforest said...

Roy, I did nearly add that, if the law had to be changed in the interests of "equality", it should have been made illegal for adult men to have anal sex with 16-year-old girls.
Let me assure you that what I said about wishing no ill will to gay people was absolutely true. Apologies for the "some of my best friends are" cliche, but my regular tennis partner is gay and there are several gay men in my wider circle of friends.
Nevertheless, I cannot ever think of sex between two men without a certain amount of distaste. That is a reaction in me as natural as homosexuality presumably is in you. So the other answer to your question is that I do not see heterosexual and homosexual sex as completely equivalent, let alone conventional and gay "marriage" (an institution that basically came about to create an ordered environment for procreation and raising children).
That, however, does not mean that I don't want gay people to be able to lead happy lives, get the jobs they deserve and have the freedom to do whatever they want in their own bedrooms etc.

Simon said...

Homophopia, xenophobia, agoraphobia, arachnophobia. Taking the last two, they are disorders with a serious adverse affect on the sufferer, but none on the trigger of the phobia. An arachnophobic is not going anywhere near a spider to be able to do it any harm. One feature of a phobia is that one's sympathies go out to the phobic suffering from them. Why then does one's heart not go out to the homophobic and xenophobic?

Homophobic, xenophobic, racist, fascist ... the trouble with all these terms is that, whilst they convey something we can sense as unpleasant, the terms themselves are maleable and spread to cover actions, and particularly thoughts, beyond the bounds of what one thought opprobrious. They end up as derogatory terms that, on closer inspection, convey a remarkably unspecific condemnation and are applied indiscriminately for ad hominem abuse, to stifle any discussion at all.

Those who use such terms are usually not thinking or deliberately humbugging.

There is my objection to them.

Simon said...

Jonforest - Hang on! Anal sex is ONLY legal between two men. It is definitely criminal between a man and a woman (or a man and an animal for that matter).

Jonforest said...

Simon, I bow to your greater knowledge of the laws on anal sex. It is not a subject that I have, until now, felt the need to study in detail (not the legal aspects anyway).
However, if you are correct - and I am sure you are - then my point is doubly made.
You could not only argue that lowering the age of consent for gay sex was wrong, but it also compounded the prejudice against men who want to have anal sex with their wives and girlfriends.
In fact, I can assure you all that I do not spend a lot of time worrying about the age of consent for gay sex. The point I have been making is that it should be possible to have an opinion that differs from that of the pink lobby without being labelled a gay basher or (semantic arguments aside) a homophobe.

Quietzapple said...


While I didn't examine all the teachings to which exception was taken it was widely believed that they did not promote any sexual practices, but did advise on safety in various forms of sexual conduct.

I don't advocate any form of sex between teenagers, but I strongly advise any who might be paying any attention to wise up and firstly learn how not to get pregnant or impregnate, how not to catch sexually transmitted diseases or suffer other debilities or damage.

I think schools have a role in such advice.

I do think that Mrs Thatcher was inconsistent (she may have misunderstood what was occurring in schools - was there ever a prosecution?) and was surprised that she had taken her view on the Abse Bill and then initiated section whatever it was against school teachers.

Few Tory MPs voted for Abse and Mrs Thatcher was not a noted social liberal.

Quietzapple said...

The state offering civil partnerships does not legitimise all the unions which might be registered in that way of course, nor does marriage endorse every aspect of every conjugal cohabitation.

Surely the state should offer useful frameworks of agreement to those who wish to formalise their unions and the ramifications thereto?

Citizens, as we should become, have several roles with respect to the state, and that of a client taking advantage of services offered is one which should apply in this field in my view.

Conservative Right said...

What has the laws to do with anal sex got to do with 'civil partnerships'?
However I agree with Traditional Tory that Section 28 should not have been repealed.

Anonymous said...

RacISM, sexISM.

HomoISM exists. Maybe homphobia does as well, but the point he was making is different to the one you refute Iain.

It was the notion of a 'phobia' that was addressed. You can be both a racist and a sexist without holding an 'irrational fear'.

Jonforest said...

Conservative Right, that thread was certainly going places that I really did not intend - or want - to go. You would have to read all the previous posts.
The point was that the lowering of the age of consent was sold as a move to equality between straights and gays when it wasn't quite as straightforward as that. Anyone who opposed that "equality" ran the risk of being portrayed a gay basher.
Now, I personally don't much care that the age was lowered and certainly do not care what consenting adults do in the bedroom. My point is that there might well have been legitimate arguments to be made against that law change and others but that those arguments were largely shouted down by the pink lobby as "homophobic".
The "homophobe" tag is capable of being used to shut down debate on gay issues in the same way that the racism jibe is used to shut down legitimate debate on immigration. Roger and Iain are right.

Roy said...

Jonforest, I find it very interesting that just because I defend gay marriage, you assume I'm gay. Actually, I'm not.

I also find it interesting that you say "it should have been made illegal for adult men to have anal sex with 16-year-old girls." Surely the potential harm in a sexual relationship between a 40yo and a 16yo lies in the large age difference with one of the persons still being under the full age of adulthood, not the particular sexual acts they wish to indulge in?

I do find it surprising when the ages of consent were equalised that setting a limit to age differences between partners when one is not a legal adult was not considered as many countries have such a rule.

Oh, and to Simon, whilst it's true that when the 1967 act legalised anal sex between men, it failed to do so for men and women, that anomaly (which I would be surprised if it was ever enforced) was repealed many years ago, sometime in the 1980s I believe.

Soho Politico said...

Sorry Iain, but your criticism of Helmer is too half-hearted. In expressing support for him (saying that you are 'united', seeking to protect him from the bogey-men on the left) you are implying that his extremely pernicious view, that homophobia is imaginary, is a respectable one. But this isn't an issue on which reasonable people can simply agree to disagree. The suggestion that homophobia doesn't exist is beyond the pale, and harmful to gay people. What would you say about someone that claimed that antisemitism doesn't exist (perhaps on semantic grounds?). Would you express unity with a Tory who said this, or imply that more unites you than divides you, as you do in this case?

I have written more about this (including the reactions by you and Tim Montgomerie) at my embryonic blog if you're interested!

Martin S said...

Homophobia is the wrong word. Some people might have a phobia of gay people. Some people have fears of -for example -red sports cars.

The problem isn't about people who fear homosexuals, they must in a tiny minority, I would guess. The problem is with people who hate homosexuals. There needs to be a word to describe them. Phobia is too weak and kindly a word for them.

"Homonegativity" was one such.

Span Ows said...

Bit late to this discussion but why is it that Iain and many others don't seem able to understand English.

Roger is not saying that crime against homosexuals dosen't exist; he is not saying that violence against homosexuals is any less a crime than violence against anyone else. What he IS saying is that homophobia, as in fear of etc, isnt what is "driving" those crimes or violence.

Let's give you some examples: sexist, racist, ageist, classist...anyone spotting the connection? Should be call wife beaters gynophobic (fear of women)? No, of course not.

Now look at this part-list:

Agoraphobia - fear of open places or events
Hydrophobia – fear of water.
Arachnophobia – fear/dislike of spiders
Ophidiophobia – fear/dislike of snakes
Claustrophobia – fear of confined spaces.
Sociophobia – fear of people or social situations
Xenophobia – fear of strangers, foreigners, or aliens.
Notice the connection here (I hope so!)?

Just because someone disagrees with someone or something else does not suggest fear of it. There are sure to be some people that ARE homophobic and have an irrational fear of homosexuallity.

Are all homosexuals heterophobics? N, of course they're not.

Jonforest said...

Roy, glad to hear that you bat for the other side in spirit only.
Also glad to hear that I won't be breaking the law should the wife demand sex "somewhere exotic" on her next birthday.
I really don't want to spend any more time on this but are you really saying that the type of sexual act would be irrelevant?
Of course, in the example mentioned, the age difference is the thing of particular concern - but I would certainly be less worried about a 16-year-old son or daughter of mine indulging in kissing or light "petting" with an older man than I would by penetrative sex, particularly if the penetration occurred in a place designed by nature for a different purpose!