I was born 56 days after homosexuality was legalised in the UK for consenting men over the age of 21 behind the privacy of closed doors, but while growing up, was painfully aware that although being gay might be legal, it was barely tolerated by much of society.
Those of my friends that were “outed” (mostly after being caught in flagrante delicto), faced such a difficult time that they left home soon after, mostly for the more liberal city lights of London or Manchester.
I don’t recall ANY of the experiences being positive with shame, paternal anger and maternal disappointment being commonplace.
Then there was AIDS, so basically, not only were gays barely tolerated in law, they were also demonised by the intolerance of the reactionary right as not only sodomites, but corrupters of youth and spreaders of disease.
The British Social Attitudes Survey of 1987 showed that 75% of people considered homosexuality “mostly or always wrong” and only 11% of people considered homosexuality “not wrong at all” (a 6% decrease since 1983)
Into this heady mix, the Tory government under St. Margaret of Thatcher introduced Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988, stating that a local authority “shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality” or “promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship”.
The effect of this was to close down a lot of very small scale LGBT support groups run mostly by 10 Inner London Councils and make councillors and council staff very wary about formal dealings with the LGBT community.
The law itself was never used, but it set a moralistic tone that made it clear that although legally tolerated, homosexuality was to be disapproved of.
Under the circumstances you can see why I preferred to remain so far in the closet that I could see Narnia.
The point of all of this is that it created an atmosphere in which homosexuals felt they were being persecuted and were forced to take action before yet more draconian legislation was enacted, thus gay rights and gay pride gradually became a thing and the pendulum began to swing the other way.
The problem is that it has gone too far.
Lets look at civil partnerships and “gay marriage” for example.
The original argument for civil partnerships was that married heterosexuals had benefits and legal protections that homosexual couples could not obtain (inheritance was a big issue) and civil partnerships were created to deal with that apparent ‘injustice’.
Personally I would have thought changing tax and inheritance laws to be neutral on the matter would have been preferable, or better still, the government getting out of the marriage business altogether, but that’s probably why I’m in IT rather than a constituency MP.
The fact that civil partnerships were purely for homosexual couples and marriage was purely for heterosexual couples just exaggerated the differences, especially since liberal faiths such as the Quakers were open to the idea of “marrying” homosexual couples, but were barred in law from doing so.
So to achieve the goal of enabling gay marriage the politicians have created a bunch of new laws and alternately alienated the religious right and the gay left.
Then we have the whole “gay cake” fiasco which gradually drags its way through the courts and will probably end up in the UK Supreme Court before too long. Although I sympathize with those suffering genuine discrimination a refusal to make a cake with a politicised message on it isn’t discrimination, at most it is the right of a business to refuse service.
The case shares similarities with the Christian B&B owners Peter and Hazelmary Bull who were happy to have a gay couple as guests, but not to share the same room. While their views might be outdated and moralistic, I have no problem with them holding and expressing them. I wouldn’t use their B&B though either and people refusing them custom because of their views is a far more powerful and appropriate sanction than going to court.
The pendulum of public opinion has swung in favour of homosexuals being given equal treatment, but they are still only a minority of 1-to-3% of the population and if LGBT activists persist in silencing dissenters and using legislation to force those who do not share their viewpoint to propagandise it then the pendulum of public opinion will swing against them once more.
This is discrimination…(against Paddy, Winston and Saffie)
Refusing to produce this cake was not discrimination…