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It’s not Christians who are a persecuted minority, it’s The Gays, says Tory peer Lord Fowler

Lord Fowler

Lord Fowler

URGING the House of Lords on Friday to support marriage equality, Lord Fowler addressed Christian concerns about gay marriage by saying:

An opinion poll in this country suggested that many Christians in Britain believed that they were a persecuted minority. I can only say that if anyone wants to see a persecuted minority they should look at the plight of gay, lesbian and transgender people around the world. As you travel you go to countries where homosexuality is a criminal offence and where people who are suspected of being homosexual are persecuted and even forced to leave their family homes.

He added:

You can go to countries where the most popular political cause is to toughen up the laws against homosexuality rather than to modify them. Action of that kind has been taken in Russia, while in Kampala a Private Member’s Bill promised capital punishment – now generously reduced to long imprisonment – for aggravated homosexuality and a penalty of imprisonment for those who suspected that someone was homosexual but failed to report it. You may feel that that kind of Bill would be thrown out. Not at all; the common view is that it will be passed.

Lord Fowler told fellow peers that they should support equal marriage because:

Parliament should value people equally in the law, and that enabling same-sex couples to marry removes the current inequity.

The Tory peer reflected on his experiences at visiting HIV and AIDS programmes in the Ukraine and Russia and his shock at the:

Widespread intolerance and prejudice towards gay and lesbian people.

Lord Fowler also argued that as the democratically elected House of Commons has already voted in favour the bill in a free vote, the unelected House of Lords should not prevent the bill from being passed into law.

He added:

I do not think that one Act passed by this Parliament or one action will suddenly bring the walls of discrimination crashing down. There are certainly actions that will help – not least, if I may say so to the Bishops’ Bench, ensuring that the churches in sub-Saharan Africa, including the Anglican Church, take a stand against what is happening there.

And he pointed out:

In some parts of the world what Parliament does may have some persuasive influence – probably not in Russia and Ukraine but quite possibly in the countries of sub-Saharan Africa. It can have influence for this reason: the criminal laws against homosexuality were introduced into those African countries by British Governments in the days of the Empire. We were the authors; we set out what the standards should be. It remains the case that 42 out of 54 Commonwealth countries criminalise same-sex relations. We should remember that it was as late as 1967 when the law here was changed. Until then people could be imprisoned.

Even here, not all the antipathy to gays has been removed – not by a long chalk – but unquestionably the law has played its part in improving the position. The Bill, which will be debated later, is not only right but could have an important persuasive effect both in this country and abroad, and will set out our belief in equal and fair treatment.

As for the later debate, we should also remember, just as we remembered on the position of the press, that the Bill for equal marriage was passed overwhelmingly in the other place on a free vote, by 400 votes to 175: a majority of over two to one.

On October 25 last year, Lord Fowler told the House that the spread of AIDS was largely due to persecution of gay people:

One hundred and seventy million people are living under conditions where they are at the risk of persecution on account of their sexual orientation, and 76 countries criminalise consensual, adult, same-sex relations, among them 42 of the 54 countries of the Commonwealth.

I want to concentrate for one moment on some of the consequences that that discrimination can have. As perhaps one or two Members of the House know, I seek to work and help in the HIV/AIDS area and will just remind the House of the position there. Some politicians talk, optimistically, about a cure, but the fact is that almost two million people a year die from AIDS. For every person put on treatment, two new people are infected. Hundreds of thousands of people do not get the treatment they need, or come to it too late for it to be fully effective.

He added:

Consider what effect discrimination can have in that context. If there is the threat of criminal sanction, people do not come forward for testing, let alone for  treatment. The result is that HIV spreads. Health providers are obviously less likely to offer their services if they can be accused of aiding a crime. The laws are often used by the police to prohibit HIV prevention activity. That is a disastrous position. I must add that it is by no means restricted to developing countries.

Meanwhile, it is reported here that death threats against Caleb Orozco, the gay rights campaigner attempting to overturn colonial era laws that criminalise homosexuality in Belize, have escalated during a four-day courtroom hearing, his lawyer has claimed.

Caleb Orozco, labelled 'the antichrist, had a beer bottle smashed in his face and his car was vandalised

Caleb Orozco, labelled ‘the antichrist, had a beer bottle smashed in his face and his car was vandalised

The high-profile challenge to the Caribbean state’s colonial-era “anti-buggery” legislation has stirred up resentment of the gay community, according to Lisa Shoman.

There has been a visible increase of threats and violence against Mr Orozco and against all homosexuals in Belize.

Commenting on the legal challenge in the Caribbean country, Robin Phillips, spokesman for Christian Voice, said:

From our perspective in the West, Section 53 of the Belize Criminal Code seems unnecessary and even harsh, and I certainly do not advocate putting homosexuals in jail. However, the government of Belize believes that laws criminalizing unnatural acts function as effective “gatekeepers” by keeping at bay measures such as gay marriage, gay adoption, etc.

Given the trajectory of how things have gone in Britain after the laws prohibiting sodomy were removed from the statute books, it’s hard not to have some sympathy with this position. The collateral effects of the gay rights agenda, in terms of the erosion of liberty and the public threats, were only possible once homosexuality became legalized in Britain. The rulers in Belize are not stupid and are aware of this dangerous trajectory.

According to this blog, Belize’s main churches have formally joined the court case, opposing decriminalisation. Bishop Phillip Wright, head of the Anglican community in Belize, said he did not see homosexual behaviour “as consistent with the witness of scripture”. However he deplored intimidation.

In an interview with Channel 5, a local Catholic priest, Ian Taylor, took a different approach, declaring:

Globally it has been determined by states that violence against homosexuals is highest within the homosexual communities itself. First of all the victim syndrome that they tend to portray is actually within the community itself – they are aggressive against each other, and less from those who are considered heterosexual.

39 Responses to “It’s not Christians who are a persecuted minority, it’s The Gays, says Tory peer Lord Fowler”

  1. Matt Westwood says:

    Applause. For Fowler, that is.

  2. [...] It’s not Christians who are a persecuted minority, it’s The Gays, says Tory peer Lord Fowler [...]

  3. JohnMWhite says:

    Secular Peer: “Look, let’s just treat people equally, shall we?”
    Catholic Priest: “You know who really persecutes gay people? Gay people! It’s all the gays’ fault!”

    Once more, I see what a wonderful force for good religion is, and how it so clearly gives one a sound moral foundation.

    Fowler’s direct address to the Bishops must have caused a stir. We all know they are vicious, bitter bigots, and we know where they got the idea to be so, but there appears to be an unwritten rule in UK politics that you don’t actually point out that it is simply the churches and only the churches that are holding back social progress. You certainly don’t point out that they are sitting on their hands letting people be tortured and murdered in the name of their god. For him to single them out and essentially tell them to stop pretending to see no evil is a very bold and welcome move.

  4. barriejohn says:

    Meanwhile, a leading Catholic Liberal Democrat MP seems to be experiencing “persecution” from all those atheistic, sandal-clad liberal activists!

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/10051377/Sarah-Teather-Faith-in-the-Liberal-Democrats-is-tricky.html

    (No internet link: only available in the print edition, evidenty.)

  5. barriejohn says:

    And the new pope has been busy stemming the tide of “aggressive secularism”. He has created over 800 “saints” in one day. That should put the wind up the devil and his angels!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-22499327

  6. JohnMWhite says:

    What little there is of that Sarah Teather article randomly degenerates into rambling about the SAS using some kind of skin cream. Remarkably apt, when you think about it.

  7. barriejohn says:

    JMW: I remain a faithful, if somewhat exasperated, LibDem voter myself (sandals, goatee and atheist credentials to hand), but I have long felt that where Ms Teather is concerned, vanishing cream might be more appropriate. I also remain loyal to Question Time, but notice an increasing type of thrusting, hectoring, arrogant young politician just like her (mainly female, it has to be said, but that might just be coincidence) who employ many words but convey virtually nothing. They resemble verbal machine guns, and allow no one to get a word in, let alone question them, yet there is very little substance in anything that they say. It all sounds as if it has been learnt off pat and is being repeated vebatim. Am I just showing signs of my age?

  8. Stephen Mynett says:

    “. . . who employ many words but convey virtually nothing. They resemble verbal machine guns, and allow no one to get a word in, let alone question them, yet there is very little substance in anything that they say.”

    Barriejohn, you have just produced a very good description of post-modernism, a very dubious ‘philosophy’ employed by people with little to say and even less talent but who want to make their mark and money.

  9. barriejohn says:

    SM: That might be the case, though I was only thinking of the world of politics. It might go some way to explaining why so much of what they say seems wishy-washy and stale, though. I yearn for the days when the likes of Michael Heseltine faced Dennis Healey or Barbara Castle. Can you think of ANY active, present-day politician, whether you agreed with their views or not, whom you would call a “big gun”?

  10. Stephen Mynett says:

    BJ: In two letters, NO.

  11. Stephen Mynett says:

    Unfortunately, that is the way politics has gone. It has always been the province of the freeloader and selfish but, in the past, there were a good number of genuine people who went into politics for the sake of their beliefs. Today it is nothing more than a profession with very high earning potential.

  12. T says:

    The good lord is 100% correct. Well said.

  13. Graham Martin-Royle says:

    OMG! I’m agreeing with a tory. I never thought that would happen. He’s hit the nail right on the head there and I do so hope that other members of the house listen.

    Sad news coming out of Belize. For all those christians complaining about being persecuted, this is what real persecution looks like.

  14. Daz says:

    Globally it has been determined by states that violence against homosexuals is highest within the homosexual communities itself. First of all the victim syndrome that they tend to portray is actually within the community itself – they are aggressive against each other, and less from those who are considered heterosexual.

    Even if this were true (and I’d want to see citations), so what? The existence of domestic violence doesn’t make non-domestic violence any more right.

    Logic fail.

  15. Matt Westwood says:

    “they are aggressive against each other, and less from those who are considered heterosexual.”

    From my experience that is about as far from the truth as it is possible to get – unless we’re talking about consensual violence as a form of love play.

  16. tony e says:

    barriejohn, Stephen Mynett,

    Unfortunately we are now in an era where politics is a career choice.

    Gone are the days where people stumbled into politics, after careers in the working world, and that is why they cannot comment in a straightforward manner on real issues.

  17. barriejohn says:

    More Tory opposition to the bill, much to the delight of the Daily Mail:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2323444/Tory-rebels-want-referendum-gay-marriage-150-MPs-threaten-wreck-new-law.html

    Tory rebels are demanding a referendum on gay marriage – and have threatened to wreck the Coalition’s attempts to make it law if they do not get their way.
    Up to 150 MPs are said to support a call for a national vote on same-sex weddings to ensure that such a historic change in legislation goes ahead only with full public support.
    Without it, opponents say they could torpedo the Government’s gay wedding Bill with a range of amendments such as allowing churches and registrars to opt out if they have strong religious or principled objections.
    Other demands include giving religious schools and teachers the right to refuse to teach the topic, and making sure at least 51 per cent of voters approve the legislation in a national referendum.

  18. Lazy Susan says:

    I thought the public was mostly in favour of enabling same-sex marriage?

  19. barriejohn says:

    Lazy Susan: That’s why they want a referendum, and I have posted a comment to that effect. It is notoriously difficult to get people out to vote in anything but a general election (just look at the recent police elections), and the polls will be swayed by all the naysayers – especially due to the fact that they will tend be of the older generation, and that there will be an efficient campaign to get the No vote out. Younger people will be less likely to vote for a variety of reasons, including work and family commitments, and so a 51% vote in favour will be highly unlikely! (How Democracy Works: Part 94)

  20. Har Davids says:

    I may not be smart enough to be a politician or cleric, but what’s all the fuss about? So much time, energy and money is wasted on the question if same-sex marriage should be allowed within the law? Have all other, more urgent, problems been solved?

  21. Lazy Susan says:

    Barrie – Got it. I had assumed a referendum would be more like a statistical sample, but it would be skewed.

    Har Davids – I assume from your post that you would not be personally affected by this proposed legislation. It’s a bit like freeing slaves – I’m not a slave so I can’t see what the fuss is. Surely there is something else more important?

    The fact is that this country -like most countries in the world – persecutes gays just for being gay. Ending one aspect of that persecution is relatively simple to do, now, in this country. What do you have in mind that is more important?

    Remember, you can’t have an argument unless there are two sets of people arguing. You can’t accuse one side of arguing without simultaneously accusing the other side.

  22. barriejohn says:

    Har Davids: You’re not making it clear which side you are on. The problem is that BOTH sides can use that same argument!

    LS: Referenda are only valid if voting is compulsory, otherwise you just have a poll. It might tell you something, but does not tell you what the nation thinks.

  23. Marky Mark says:

    So…this politician from South Carolina named Sanford was caught using tax dollars to meet his mistress in S. America and was caught. All he did was wait a few months than proclaimed gaud has forgiven him and the right wing theocrats ran out to vote for him again.
    The best I can tell is that adultery is a really, really bad sin according to the bible, punishable by death. Even mentioned a few time in their moral 10 commandments. Far worse than being gay, birth control and even abortion.
    Talk about hypocrites, if they do something wrong all they have to do is proclaim forgiveness for themselves and they are forgiven…but something they don’t like is unforgivable.

    Also…this same “family values” Senator Sanford was leading the charge to impeach Clinton for having sex with an intern…always mentioning family values.

  24. barriejohn says:

    More unbelievable news from Belize:

    http://rt.com/news/belize-mayan-pyramid-destroyed-234/

  25. barriejohn says:

    And a backward “pocket of bigotry” right on our own doorstep:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-isle-of-man-22511962

  26. barriejohn says:

    Now they’ve found something else to whinge about:

    http://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/ministers-face-storm-over-gay-marriages-in-military-chapels-8613832.html#.UZHHNn8Aq_A.email

    They’ll be arguing about angels dancing on pinheads soon!

  27. Michael Morley says:

    Can someone please explain why gays have to keep telling everyone they are gay. “Hetero’s” don’t have the need to do it so why the gays. I think ones sexual preferences are a private matter and as the old saying says…”Least said..soonest mended”.

  28. Lazy+Susan says:

    Michael – I don’t find that gays keep on about it. In fact my lady friend keeps telling me that so-and-so is gay (or queerer than a nine-bob-note as she quaintly puts it) so whatever signals are flying are going right over my head, for one.

    But you are sailing into deep water here if you think that people should keep quiet about themselves. If gays have to keep quiet, then soon it will be “outrageous” if some gays don’t. Next thing it will be an offense against public decency to express homosexual feelings, and pretty soon you will have the Guardians for the Suppression of Vice and Promotion of Morality knocking at people’s doors.

    Either people have the right to be gay or they don’t. You don’t have to like it.

  29. David Anderson says:

    Michael Morley, your naiveté is showing.

  30. Corey Privett says:

    If we are going to talk about gays in the United States, then yes, they are under much more ‘persecution’ than Christians. If we mention around the world then we must not forget the countless countries in which being a Christian is an offense punishable by death.

  31. Barry Duke says:

    * … we must not forget the countless countries in which being a Christian is an offense punishable by death.*

    Corey, I can find no reference to ANY country in the world that has the death penalty for being Christian, let alone “countless”. However, there are seven that have legislated capital punishment for being an atheist (http://disinfo.com/2012/12/seven-countries-have-death-penalty-for-atheism/).

    The number of countries identified as PERSECUTORS of Christians number 50, over 70 percent of which are Muslim (http://archbishop-cranmer.blogspot.co.uk/2012/01/christian-persecution-top-50-countries.html).

    The same regimes that are intolerant of Christianity are more than likely also persecutors of LBGT people.

  32. Lazy+Susan says:

    Sightly OT. Articlein todays Telegraph reporting decline in Xian numbers in the UK.

    The Church’s response, after a statement which really shows them to be in denial, is this: “The challenge to the Church is to reconnect with the nominal.”

    Perhaps this is some special religious language – I don’t know. I do know that if that is what they say, they have summed up their challenge in one ironical sentence.

  33. Lazy+Susan says:

    And then “Pope Francis urges global leaders to end ‘tyranny’ of money.”

    Bloody hell! These guys are costing me a fortune in irony meters.

  34. barriejohn says:

    Lazy+Susan: I saw that as well. Heaven forbid that such holy people should ever soil their pure hands with the world’s filthy lucre!

    http://www.secularism.org.uk/news/2013/05/as-the-country-struggles-with-its-finances-new-tax-perks-for-churches-are-brought-in