This is a guest post by Polly

I wrote a while back about my (now ex) friend who gained her ex status when she suddenly expressed a belief that civil partnerships in churches were wrong after coincidentally hanging around with a bunch of evangelical Christian homophobes, who were coincidentally black Africans, and who then, in one of the only genuine instances I’ve ever come across of political correctness gone mad, further proposed that there must be something  in homophobia if black Africans were expressing it because it was obviously some sort of ethnic characteristic,  thereby being simultaneously homophobic AND racist.  She is doing a PhD in ethnography, which might explain it. That and the prodigious quantity of illegal drugs she gets through.

She was of course at pains to protest her non homophobia, and just before being chucked as a friend, said that I must know she’s not homophobic, it’s just that she didn’t agree with every bit of my “political agenda”, and couldn’t I respect her view, the way she “respected” mine. My response was that unfortunately I couldn’t respect her view, because it was homophobic. Well she did ask. And I wasn’t prepared to facilitate a delusion that she couldn’t be homophobic because hey – some of her best friends are lesbians.

I was reminded of the whole sorry affair by this Guardian editorial – Civil partnerships: questions for the church – which is peculiar even by their standards.

My personal view on marriage as a legal phenomenon is simple. I think it should be abolished. If I had my way, no legal marriages or civil partnerships would take place anywhere.

However as it is, we have religion, and we have legal marriage and we have civil partnerships. And some religious institutions want to  host civil partnership ceremonies, and some same sex couples are religious, and want to plight their troth in a place of worship. And amazingly, it took the ConDems  to decide it was a good idea for this to be allowed. I hate it when that happens. But a pantomime villain lurked in the wings in the shape of Baroness O’Cathain. So what do the graun think of her motivation?

“As ever in such debates on equality, though, a much bigger issue of principle lurks not far below the surface of this lawyerish dispute – in which, it should be added, legal opinion is divided and not all on Baroness O’Cathain’s side. That issue of principle is homosexual equality. This newspaper supports such equality and believes that opposition to it will soften over time. It nevertheless believes that the opposition is there, is sincerely held, and should not be legislated away.”

This raises a number of questions. Does the graun believe that the view should be legislated away if it was frivolously held? Are there insincere bigots out there? If someone  sincerely expresses some other kind of prejudice, e.g. racism does that make it better? Will the next grauniad editorial express sympathy for e.g. the crusades on the basis that our genocidal medieval friends truly believed they were doing god’s will?

And the answers presumably are a)yes b)who knows c)of course not and d)quite possibly. There may well be people who are bigots for a laugh, just for a joke, a ha ha ha, but it isn’t nearly as funny as the idea that our dear Baroness is motivated by anything other than the fact that she just doesn’t like non heterosexual people much..

There are various positions you could take on the current law. Personally I think it’s a grubby little compromise, that is slightly less homophobic than the previous grubby little compromise. I can see why they did it the way they did, and I have to admire (oh this really hurts*) Scameron’s  willingness to at least partially upset the Fail, the Torygraph and numerous backbench bigots for a principle, when Bliar wouldn’t have known a principle unless it turned up with a cheque for a trillion billion pounds.

However the fact is religious institutions are still allowed to discriminate in ways nobody else is, and this is excused on the basis apparently that such discrimination  is “sincere” and based on the bible/other religious text as appropriate (though the meeja’s a lot less sympathetic when muslims complain about gays for some reason, even gay penguins).

Can we please, please drop the idea that there are genuinely non homophobic people who just have to do everything their imaginary sky pixie friend tells them, even though it really hurts them more than it hurts us because they’d really like to live in a big rainbow hippy world but the ISPF won’t allow it? And that this somehow makes them superior to common or garden bigots?

Because a)if you did everything the bible tells you you’d find life pretty difficult  – let’s just hope for her sake that Detta O’Cathain has no poly cotton about her person, or even worse some kind of viscose/cotton/angora blend. And b)muslims do it, Christians do it, even educated fruit flies do it. Be honest,  admit you’re a bigot, and stop hiding behind obscure bits of Leviticus to justify it. Because things that you’re liable to read in the bible, ain’t necessarily so.

*not nearly as bad as having to shop at Tesco to annoy Christians though…..  But I suppose they are cheap and convenient…

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