A few days prior to my writing this blog, an article was published in the Daily Mail, which was written by one Melanie Phillips, entitled "Yes, gays have often been the victims of prejudice. But they risk b...".
In this article, Phillips is arguing that those in the LGBT community and the lobbyists therein, are going too far in their quest for equality, and it is having a detrimental effect on society. Unfortunately, this argument is hidden behind what appears to be thinly veiled homophobia and it has the tendency to (in my opinion) undervalue the very thing people are trying to achieve.
"Expressing what used to be the moral norm of Western civilisation is now not just socially impermissible, but even turns upstanding people into law breakers" - This quote, is of course referring to a case in which a Christian couple, who own a B&B, turning away a gay couple as it went against their views. Phillips argues that this couple are not allowed to have a dissenting opinion from the many, and that their opinions had landed them in court, as a consequence of being sued by the couple. She neglects to remember however, that discrimination, on the basis of sexuality, is illegal and the couple had indeed broken the law. Thus, it is perfectly fine for them to have been taken to court over it. Had discrimination based on sexuality not been against the law, Phillips would have been perfectly right in her judgements.
On the tricky subject of morals however, there is no such clear cut answer. Morals are too subjective and as such cannot be a good measure upon which to base the rules of a society. Arguing that, as it was a 'moral norm' in the past, it should be a 'moral norm' now, makes little, if any sense. Just because something was 'the done thing' does not make it 'morally' superior to any other act. My case in point would be The Slave Trade. Now, I know what you're thinking here, but go with me on this one, I am comparing the two in terms of the way in which the morality on the subject changed, nothing else.
Society at that time had no moral qualms concerning slavery, yet people would condemn it now as positively barbaric. Yet at the time, when it was originally banned, I highly doubt that society as a whole suddenly gained access to a completely new moral compass as it were, and saw the errors of their ways. Following on from this, the use of derogatory homophobic words, do not have the same effect or reaction as derogatory racist words. This is what I think is a big issue in tackling most forms of homophobia. Both actions (of calling someone a nigger or calling someone a faggot) are ultimately doing the same thing, via different channels; they are both isolate or ostracise someone based on who they are. In this respect, they should be treated in the same manner, as something to be heavily frowned upon.
"Penalising religious people for speaking and acting in accordance with their beliefs is neither liberal nor tolerant. It is behaviour more commonly associated with totalitarian dictatorships" - Unfortunately, Mrs Phillips, another thing that is neither liberal nor tolerant is denying an entire group in society the same rights that the rest of society has enjoyed for centuries. Furthermore, if someone's religious views are in contradiction with the law, the law trumps religion. Not the other way around. Religion is not above the law, and cannot be used as a get out clause. Phillips is under the delusion that religious beliefs are above and beyond the law, unfortunately for her, for us to live in a fully functioning democracy, one in which everyone is equaleveryone needs to be subject to the same laws, and YES Melanie, that includes you too.
"The obsession with equality has now reached ludicrous, as well as oppressive, proportions" -Once again, Phillips seems to be under some sort of delusion, only this time it is one in which she seems to think that equality is not worth fighting for. She belittles their quest for equality and calls it an obsession, as though it is something that is as trivial as a walk in the park. The rights people are asking for are rights that she was born with, and a right she enjoys everyday, yet she takes for granted the fact that not everyone is able to live in the same luxury as her. No one told her that her marriage to her husband would be frowned upon or illegal, and why on Earth should they? If only she could reciprocate.
Phillips goes on to talk about the "gay agenda" which she mentions profusely as though she is using the phrase as a life-raft, upon which she clings to so as to stop herself from falling to the ways of acceptance and tolerance. She mistakes the LGBT community's endeavour for equality in all spheres of society for having dark and sinister intentions and using this search for equality as a stage for something a lot more ominous in reality.
However poorly she may argue for various issues, I feel that these are not what she was attempting to put forward. She made a fleeting comment about the B&B owners who were as she put it "merely upholding Christian values" and while they may certainly have been true, she almost touched upon something vital. Just not quite.
She is, I think, trying to suggest that the ways in which minority views are treated are not indicative of a liberal democracy. She argues (poorly in my opinion) that being able to hold and declare opinions that are not of the majority is something which has become condemned. Following on from this is that these dissenting opinions are met with waves of intolerance asking those against whom they are arguing, to be more tolerant. In this respect, I can see what she's trying to get at. However, her article does little more than suggest that homosexuals should not be striving for equality, and should not be acknowledged fully in society as a result.
Despite these ideas, which may hold some merit, her article does little more than feed the frenzy of Daily Mail readers who like nothing more than to cling to the past as though they are clinging to their mother's apron strings for dear life and comfort. It would be refreshing if a writer in the Daily Mail would write an article outlining the need for LGBT rights, but I don't think I'll be holding my breath.