An absolutely superb piece by Melanie Phillips this morning on her blog.
The Equality Bill currently going through Parliament is the latest and potentially most oppressive attempt to impose politically acceptable attitudes and drive out any that fall foul of these criteria. Since the attitudes being imposed constitute an ideological agenda to destroy Britainâ€™s foundational ethical principles and replace them by a nihilistic values and lifestyle free-for-all, they represent a direct onslaught on the Judeo-Christian morality underpinning British society.
The most neuralgic of these issues is gay rights. This is because the tolerance of homosexuality that a liberal society should properly show has long been hijacked by an agenda which aims at destroying the very idea of normative sexuality altogether â€“ and does so by smearing it as prejudice. The true liberal position, that it is right and just to tolerate behaviour that deviates from the norm as long as it doesnâ€™t hurt anyone else, is deemed to be rank prejudice on the grounds that homosexuality is not â€˜deviancyâ€™ but normal. â€˜Normalityâ€™ is thus rendered incoherent and absurd and accordingly destroyed altogether. Â The agenda is therefore not liberal tolerance but illiberal coercion against mainstream moral values, on the basis that the very idea of having normative moral principles at all is an expression of bigotry. So anyone who speaks out against gay rights is immediately vilified as a â€˜homophobeâ€™ and treated as a social and professional pariah.
One of the key tenets â€“ possibly the key tenet â€“ of a liberal society is that it grants religious groups the freedom to practise their religious faith and live by its precepts. Preventing them from doing so is profoundly illiberal and oppressive â€“ and it is not made any less so by the fact that â€˜progressiveâ€™ voices inside the church themselves deem such precepts to be â€˜homophobicâ€™. This is merely the sexualisation of heresy. And what follows from heresy, whether religious or secular, is persecution.
Persecution needs an enforcer. And such a tool of oppression has been duly created in the form of the Orwellian-styled Equality & Human Rights Commission, whose role is to stamp out all such heresy. Accordingly Stonewall, the gay rights pressure group whose de-normalising agenda has been enacted virtually in its entirety by this Labour government, has not one but two commissioners on the E&HRC. And yet despite this blatant loading of the regulatory dice, gay activists have kicked up a stink over the appointment of one token evangelical Christian on the Commission, Joel Edwards — even though by all accounts he is meek and conformist in his approach â€“ so much so that at the same Faith, Homophobia, Transphobia, & Human Rights conference addressed by Maria Eagle the Commissionâ€™s head, Trevor Phillips, actually expressed contrition over Edwardsâ€™s appointment:
Trevor Phillips, Chair of the Equality & Human Rights Commission, spoke candidly about his position in the face of the controversies over the appointment of the Rev Joel Edwards, former General Secretary of the Evangelical Alliance, to a Commissioner role for faith issues. Responding to tough questioning, he told the conference that had he known at the time of the appointment what he knew now, how deeply people had been hurt and alienated over this, maybe there would have been a different outcome.
Truly, as the joke goes, what was once prohibited has now become compulsory. Once, homosexual practice was outlawed. Now, it appears that Christian practice is to be afforded the same fate. This is a matter of fundamental civil rights. So where are the upholders of progressive values on this? Where are the human rights lawyers? Where is the voice of Liberty, Britainâ€™s powerful human rights NGO? And where are the supposed defenders of core British and western values? Where (donâ€™t laugh) is the Conservative Party?
Marching in the ranks of the secular inquisition, every one of them.
If any of my readers think that the banning of criticism of sexual practices is acceptable (for that is what Clause 61 in the Coroners and Justice Bill which removes the Waddington Amendment from the CJA seeks to do), please could you outline below why?
Update – For reference, here is the relevant details of the proposed legal changes:
The offence of â€˜inciting hatred on the grounds of sexual orientationâ€™ is part of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 (â€˜CJI Actâ€™). Lord Waddington successfully inserted a free speech clause into that Act, which clause 61 (formerly clause 58) of the Coroners and Justice Bill now seeks to remove. Clause 61 has been passed by the Commons. It reads as follows:
61 Hatred against persons on grounds of sexual orientation
In Part 3A of the Public Order Act 1986 (c. 64) (hatred against persons on grounds of sexual orientation etc), omit section 29JA (protection for discussion or criticism of sexual conduct etc).
Section 29JA (which clause 61 seeks to omit) reads as follows:
29JA Protection of freedom of expression (sexual orientation)
In this Part, for the avoidance of doubt, the discussion or criticism of sexual conduct or practices or the urging of persons to refrain from or modify such conduct or practices shall not be taken of itself to be threatening or intended to stir up hatred.