Thursday, 29 April 2010

Open letter to Philip Lardner on homosexuality

Dear Mr. Lardner,

I read on the BBC news website that you had been suspended from your position as Conservative candidate for North Ayrshire and Arran for posting remarks on your website that homosexuality is "not normal". I was sad to hear that an official candidate for a major party hoping to govern the UK made these remarks in the first place; I was more saddened to find that, having removed the remarks from your website, you have now reposted them.

Your comments are discriminatory, hateful and have no place in UK politics or civilised society. I will respond to each part of every sentence from your comments:

"I will always support the rights of homosexuals to be treated within concepts of (common sense) equality"
The rest of your article suggests otherwise.

Also your phrasing is telling - when is equality not "common sense"? It sounds as though you are leaving a get-out clause for not allowing homosexuals the rights of other citizens. Please clarify.

"and respect and defend their rights to choose to live the way they want in private"
Again the rest of your comments suggest you are not respectful and would not defend many rights of homosexuals at at all.

Also "in private" is very revealing. While no sexual act of any kind would be acceptable in public, what aspects of a homosexual life would not be acceptable in public? Kissing? Holding hands? Merely being openly gay? It is comments like these from elected officials that legitimises crimes driven by hate on the street and in our homes.

"but I will not accept that their behaviour is ‘normal’ or encourage children to indulge in it"
You are wrong - there is nothing harmful or immoral about any homosexual "behaviour", from being in a relationship to consenting sexual acts. Therefore it should be considered as "normal" as any other sexual lifestyle.

Everyone would agree encouraging children to indulge in any sexual act would be extremely wrong, whether homosexual or heterosexual - this is an unnecessary comment, surely?

"The promotion of homosexuality by public bodies (as per ‘clause 28/section 2a in Scotland,) was correctly outlawed by Mrs Thatcher’s government."
When I finished sixth form in 2002, my school was still prohibited by Clause 28 from even mentioning homosexuality in personal and sex education. This was wrong. By only mentioning heterosexuality, it meant promoting heterosexuality as the only valid sexuality and implictly condemning homosexuality - and condemning all those young people who already knew, had accepted or even just suspected they might not be heterosexual.

"Toleration and understanding is one thing, but state-promotion of homosexuality is quite another." (original text in bold)
Mr. Lardner you talk about the difference between "tolerance" and "promotion", but clearly you do not understand the difference. In your view, even mentioning homosexuality in sex education is "promoting" it - when in actual fact, as per my previous comment, by only mentioning heterosexuality of all forms in personal and sex education, schools and the government are promoting heterosexuality as the only valid choice.

The only acceptable option for personal and sex education is to teach that hetero-, homo-, bi-sexuality and celibacy are all acceptable personal lifestyles. This is not just the case for a civilised society, but also the only way sex education on things like contraception and AIDS will make an impact on young homosexual people.

"Why should Christian churches be forced by the Government to employ homosexuals as ‘ministers’ against all that the bible teaches?"
As far as I can tell, no party wishes to force any church to employ homosexuals, as if there were quotas or something - that would be weird! But again, your phrasing is suggestive and shows a clear lack of judgement.

Assuming you meant "forced to accept homosexuals on an equal footing in employment", this is absolutely right. Many Christian churches have left hateful policies and ideologies in history where they belong. Why should religious freedom allow any religious establishment to be bigoted and break employment rules in a way no company or public service ever could?

"They are being forced by the Government to betray their mission – would the Equality and Human Rights Commission be fined for refusing a job to Nick Griffin?"
Again, if any religious establishment wishes to engage in a decent civilised society, there is no reason they should need to break the law.

Nick Griffin publically rejects many important values that are enshrined in law, such as equality on race and sexuality, and should not be employed by anyone.

"Christians (and most of the population) believe homosexuality to be somewhere between ‘unfortunate’ and simply ‘wrong’"
You are wrong. Most of this country accepts homosexual people as just that - people - and do not consider their behaviour "wrong" nor "unfortunate". If you wish to make judgmental claims about the people of the entire UK, please provide valid statistics.

Furthermore, Christians are a broad group with many many differing views, and thankfully there are many Christians - if sadly perhaps a minority - who also believe homosexuality is just as valid as any other seuxality.

"The current ‘law’ is wrong and must be overturned in the interests of freedom as well as Christian values."
Which current law? Do you just mean Clause 28, or any laws giving homosexual people rights like others? Please clarify this.

Your reference of "freedom" is an oxymoron and makes you a hypocrit. By giving rights and equality to homosexual people we take no rights away from people of other sexualities and lifestyles. You casually use the word "freedom" to suggest you are in favour of freedoms and civil liberties, when in fact your views would only restrict freedoms of ordinary people.

Lastly but possibly most importantly, you keep mentioning "Christians" and "Christian values". Thankfully, this is a culturally secular country (if not officially). While no-one is suggesting any religious organisation in the country have its freedom of speech restricted, most people are rightfully glad that the Church of England - nor any other religious organisation - does not have a significant impact on law and policy. While we should not deny Britain's Christian history, it is wrong to make policy on the basis of any or all religions, as this discriminates against people of other religions or no religion - of which there are many in this country.

Furthermore, I put it to you that Christian "values" and ethics are no more or less valuable, valid, important or worthy than the values of other religions, or indeed people of no religion, who manage to hold moral views without the impact of religion on their judgment.

Mr. Lardner - It is saddening enough that a propsective MP of this country should express such views openly on his website, but it is far worse that after being exposed and suspended and withdrawing them, you remain unrepentant and reposted the comments. You express wonder that your discriminatory and hateful views could be seen as deeply offensive. You claim that Britain "was until recently a free country!", yet it is your views which threaten to restrict freedoms in Britain and undermine decades of campaigning for equal rights by gay people.

Most significantly, you claim it is a local issue by saying "if people think this is offensive, don’t vote for it" - yet if you were elected as MP, either in government or opposition, you would have a role in shaping the policy and law for the whole of the UK. It is absolutely not a local issue, it is not about freedom of speech, and people of all sexualities have an interest in your unacceptable views and comments.

I ask of you that:
- You immediately withdraw the commments on your website of your own accord.
- You withdraw from running for MP in North Ayrshire and Arran.
- You spend time with gay people. If you were to refute your harmful views immediately, people would not believe you and it would probably not be genuine, especially considering your unrepentant further remarks. There will be groups out there who can help you spend time with gay people, hopefully of any or no religion, in private and in confidence. This will help you see that homosexual people are ordinary people with differing views, lives, loves, faults and hopes, and that all types of homosexual "behaviour" are perfectly acceptable.

Andrew Fulton, Chairman of the Scottish Conservative Party - I was glad to see that following Mr. Lardner's comments, you called them "deeply offensive and unacceptable", and that he was suspended as candidate for North Ayrshire and Arran. However, following this Mr. Lardner has reposted the comments and expressed an unrepentant stance. This is unacceptable.

Whether or not the Conservative Party wins the election on 6th May, Mr. Lardner's views incite homophobia and would restrict freedoms for people in the UK, and are as such clearly not acceptable in Parliament. I ask you that Mr. Lardner be fully dropped as Conservative candidate for North Ayrshire and Arran and, following the correct procedure, expelled from the Conservative Party until he can prove legitimately that he no longer harbours hateful and discriminatory views towards gay people.

By taking decisive action to remove Mr. Lardner from the ballot paper, you will show that the Conservative Party does not share these views and is committed to equality for all in Britain.

Others reading this message - I ask you to write to Mr. Lardner at philiplardner@scottishtories.com and add your rejection of his views to mine.

Mr. Lardner claims this is about freedom of speech. Maybe it would be, if it was a private individual talking in private; these views would be no more acceptable, but they would be a private matter. However, Mr. Lardner is officially a candidate of the Conservative Party, who make great claims about tolerance and equality (despite a record that is, at best, lacklustre). He is campaigning to be an MP, and whether in government or opposition he would have a say and a vote in the laws that affect every citizen of Britain.

Equality rights in the UK have been hard-won as the result of decades and even centuries of hard work, from the working classes, women, disabled, gay, transgendered, children, minorities of all skin colour, and people of any or no religion. Many of these people still struggle and face discrimination, even from our own government.

The rights and equalities that we do have are not for sale, not for negotiation, and there is no place for hateful discriminatory views in our parliament.

Disclosure
I am a UK citizen currently living in New Zealand, but expecting to live in the UK again at some point.
I am not a member of any gay rights group, nor do I have any connection with any group with personal or electoral incentive in the North Ayrshire and Arran constituency, which I have never visited.
I am a young person who believes in equality for all and freedoms of sexuality, religion and speech. These are freedoms that should not and do not contradict each other.

Jez Kemp

2 comments:

  1. Jez, one year on and not a single person has commented on your pathetic ranting nonsense. Get a life dearie, Priscilla was the Queen of the (Aussie) Desert, are you the Queen of South Island? Probably North as you'll want the sun tan... Lardner had an opinion and despite (because?) he says he's a Christian he publicly pledged to defend Gays absolutely - despite disagreeing with their lifestyle choice/destiny and you condemn him? Shame on you.

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  2. Wow, someone's a homophobe and still cares a little too much I think.
    A number of people commented on Twitter and Facebook. It wasn't many but it wasn't insignificant.
    "Sun tan"? What?
    "Lardner had an opinion" Yes, that homosexuality shouldn't be encouraged as acceptable, which it absolutely is.
    "Despite (because) he's a Christian" I dunno, you tell me? There's a lot of Christians out there who hate homosexuality, Lardner included, and not many who go about defending it.
    "He pledged to defend gays absolutely" Nice capitalisation there, and no, he didn't pledge to defend them against politicians like him who would like to legislate against homosexuality in areas such as education.
    "Pathetic ranting nonsense" - are you kidding? It's a reasoned and clear dissection of his comments.
    "Shame on you". No. Shan't.

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