Monday, April 05, 2010

Are the Tories still homophobic?

No matter the tons of concealer and foundation: the debate kickstarted by the Shadow Home Secretary's unfortunate remarks is reminding us that too many Tories are still bigots.

Grayling was referring to a recent case where a gay couple was turned away from a guest house in Berkshire on the grounds of their sexuality.

This is what he said: "if you look at the case of 'Should a Christian hotel owner have the right to exclude a gay couple from their hotel?' [...] That individual should have the right to decide who does and who doesn't come into their own home".

Amazingly, though, many right-wing commenters are already attempting to turn the whole issue on its head.

They tend to cling onto anything or argue the toss and its flipside again over the semantics of the word "liberty" or other abstract notions without clocking that, in practice, they will always side with the knuckledraggers and - in the process - still go against the most vulnerable people's basic rights.

Let's have a look at the amount of remarkably weak stuff that is circulating online in support of Grayling's views and beyond.

- "A B&B is a private business and the state should not tell them what to do".
Not quite. Businesses that are open to the public are required to adhere to certain industry standards. Think of fire regulations, health & safety, food hygiene. No B&B owner could justify the presence of live wires in the bathroom on the grounds that "it's my own private business and I do what I want with it".

Somehow though, you will never hear a Tory complaining about the breach of civil liberties when the state tells you how to implement fire policies. Instead, they get their knickers in a twist when active discrimination is targeted.

- "You should have the right to choose who you let into your own home".
Yes, which is why most put up signs such as "we reserve the right to refuse admission". It happens all the time. Think of dress codes in clubs or certain pubs not allowing football tops in. Think of aggressive types, pissheads or other iffy situations. But that is a whole different kettle of fish.

There are certain inalienable rights, which are intrinsic to the person and the law currently sets out to protect them from discrimination and harassment, and rightly so. You cannot discriminate or refuse services on the grounds of race, disability, gender, religion or sexual preference.

Also, the moment you decide to open a B&B you take into account that you may offer services to people who are not exactly your cup of tea. If that bothers you, fair enough, but then you're probably in the wrong line of business.

- "Grayling was only referring to B&Bs. He later stated that hotels shouldn't be allowed to turn gay people away".
And how on earth would that work then? Would he change the law into some weird formula saying that "a building with a capacity of up to 12 beds is allowed turn people away on the basis of their sexual preference"? Why only for sexual preference? Doesn't that really give the game away? Because: how exactly would society improve with something like that? Would that seriously make Britain a better or more civilised place in any way?

- "Nothing good can come out of the state sticking its nose into such matters".
Well. Simply think of the alternative. The "freedom" these people are advocating consists of shops and business premises freely sticking up signs such as "no Blacks", "no Gays", "no Jews", "no Asians", etc.

That would instantly throw us back to an era we finally thought was long buried. What possible good can come from that? Can you imagine the impact on social cohesion? Is it really the kind of world so called 'libertarians' want?

- "Minorities are increasingly imposing their views upon the majority".
This is the Big Man's view. Typically white, middle-class, male. The Richard Littlejohn or Jeremy Clarkson types deluding themselves that, because they hold certain opinions, then inevitably the whole world does. Except that it doesn't.

Poll after poll indicates that a clear majority of Britons are increasingly in favour of equal rights for homosexuals. A 2009 poll showed that "61 per cent of the public want gay couples to be able to marry just like the rest of the population, not just have civil partnerships", while 68 per cent of the public back "full equal rights" for gay men and lesbians.

And yet, for decades, the most humiliating anti-gay measures (including the Conservatives' own Section 28, which David Cameron recently apologised for) where repeatedly justified on the grounds of a supposed "moral majority".

But even if it was true that equal rights for homosexuals where supported by a minority only, would that justify discrimination? Slavery was once commonly viewed as normal or even good. Would that make it right?

32 comments:

socialist sam said...

Same old Tories.
However, this is not a priority and you're giving it too much importance.

Jackart said...

In my position as this site's (unofficial) pet Tory (not a troll, honest) I sort of agree with Claude here. There IS a difference between a pub not letting drunk people in and a B&B being allowed to turn a gay couple away.

However... I am defiantly libertarian on the issue of discrimination: I think people should be allowed to discriminate, and I am against most equality laws on this basis. Because freedom of association means that some people will use the freedom to not to associate out of prejudice, is no reason to deny freedom of association. The question is would you stay in a B&B that said "no gays, blacks or Irish"?

Neither would I.

You dismiss this argument by suggesting hypocrisy, but I've never met a regulation I didn't want repealed.

Such a doctrinaire position is not where Grayling was coming from. He merely suggested that a B&B which is usually someone's home IS different to a hotel, which is more purely a business. Such a difference could be defined in law, but isn't. Should you have rights as to who you invite into your home?

Grayling was expressing a personal opinion, and has a pretty good track record on voting for Gay rights legislation - in favour of Equal age of consent, and civil partnerships. To suggest his remarks mean that the Tories are rammed with savage homophobes is utterly absurd. If there are homophobes in politics, it is more likely to be amongst the WWC labour vote, currently deserting en-mass to the BNP.

I think there's a desperate straw-grabbing by Labour on this issue. Read what Grayling said, in full, and imagine how that plays to an electorate not obsessed with identity politics, who are being told, if they agree with the substance of Graylings remarks, that they're bitter homophobes who should be shunned.

I think Grayling-gate may perversely benefit the Tories.

claude said...

Jackart,
your position is theoretically noble, but think of what it would do in practice...

It's not fair to dismiss all this as "identity politics", because the repercussions are wider.

Alas, not many people are as reasonable as you are. You say you wouldn't stay in a B&B that said "no gays, blacks or Irish". But enough people probably would.

And the "laws of the market" didn't stop racial crap and assorted discrimination taking place in the past, as we've learnt bitterly.

If we do what you suggest, in the name of "libertarianism", simply, we would have a high street full of whites-only pubs, christians-only bakers, no-Muslims hairdressers, no-gays B&Bs.

"I've never met a regulation I didn't want repealed"? Sorry but I don't wanna live in a society I just described.

Jackart said...

It depends on whether you think legislation leads or follows society. I think it follows, and that means legislation follows the prejudices of the day.

So... repealing equality legislation would absolutely not mean "no Dogs, blacks or Irish" signs appearing everywhere, as decent members of the majority population would shun them.

Further more, I'd rather live in a tolerant society because people were decent, than one which was only tolerant because of the violence of the law.

I think you're a little too pessimistic about the British people's decency!

harpymarx said...

I don't understand how Grayling can differentiate between B&Bs and Hotels as both are commercial enterprises both subject to the law where people can’t be discriminated against because of their sexuality.

But again it exposes the Tories for the nasty bunch of homophobes they are, and let's not forget they were the architects of Section 28.

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

In answer to your blog's question:

Yes.

claude said...

Jackart,
"I think you're a little too pessimistic about the British people's decency!"

Au contraire, like Delboy would say. I think they're doing great regardless of all the phobic crap the tabloids have been steamrolling into our lives everyday.

"So... repealing equality legislation would absolutely not mean "no Dogs, blacks or Irish" signs appearing everywhere,"

How? If no laws is there to stop it that can and will happen. Maybe not much, hopefully very little, but you cannot presume to know that it "absolutely" won't.

"Further more, I'd rather live in a tolerant society because people were decent, than one which was only tolerant because of the violence of the law."

So would I. But also you have to be practical and realistic. If it hadn't been for active legislation, slavery would have lasted a lot longer and probably still be with us now.

I'd rather some football supporters didn't chuck bananas onto the pitch at black players because they themselves suddenly clocked that it's vile, and not because otherwise they break the law...However, the law made that piece of human obnoxiousness stop.

Jackart said...

I'm amazed at how many people are fighting a parody of Toryism which exists only in their fevered imagination.

'Tolerance' can mean tolerance of other people's bigotry. At some point, where rights to religious freedom, and equality legislation clash, there is a debate to be had about which trumps what where in the great game of victimhood poker.

I wish that debate could be held without self-righteous lefties like HarpyMarx (how apt a moniker) bandying around words like 'Racist' and 'Homophobic'.

Stan Moss said...

"I'm amazed at how many people are fighting a parody of Toryism which exists only in their fevered imagination."

They still voted to keep Section 28 in 2003. Not 1993. Not 1953. 2003. This very same decade, with more or less the same sitting MPs as now, including their Leader. Surely you can understand the cynicism. The right accuse Labour of being 'socialist' day in day out even though Clause IV was ditched 16 years ago and we had Tony Blair (who's just about as socialist as Dick Cheney)as leader. Surely we'd have more of a point than you do in saying that you're fighting a 'parody' of Labour.

Jackart said...

Stan.

Labour Bankrupted the country. Again. Seems pretty socialist to me.

claude said...

Jackart, a question.

How long have you been a Tory supporter?

If you say you were pre-2005, then the question is: how did you feel when most Tory MPs fought tooth and nail against civil partnerships and pro-section 28?

Note that I do believe some Conservatives are genuinely liberal when it comes to social rights.

Aside from Jackart, I can think of Iain Dale, but also MPs such as Alan Duncan, Ken Clarke, John Bercow and a few others.

It must be said, however, that some of these people did not have a problem supporting a party that was actively in favour of discriminating against sexual minorities.

In some cases, in fact, they joined the Tory Party at the height of its homophobia.

Jackart said...

I first Joined the party at University in 1995 or so. But I have never been a creature of the party. I am not "A Tory". I am a Conservative libertarian. I do not start any political point with the question "what is the Tory position on this?" but with the much simpler question "who has the right policy".

to my mind the fuss made by both sides over section 28 is absurd. (the link points to my thoughts on the subject. Please read to the end before commenting)

I have no interest in identity politics, which is why Tories and Lefites stare at each other across an unbridgeable idealogical divide. Basically for most Tories what one does with one's willy is of the profoundest indifference. It is not a matter for politics.

Left-wing gay people are more likely to define themselves as "Gay Activists" whereas the likes of Iain Dale are Conservatives who happen to be Gay.

There are Bigots everywhere, (not least amongst the hard-left's Islammist auxiliaries) but such embarassing throwbacks where they are found in the Tory party do not define my views. The Tory Party, without active discrimination gave this country its first Jewish PM (in the 19th century) and it's first Woman (in Gene Hunt's 1970s). The Tories have chosen plenty of Gay candidates in winnable seats, so 8% of the PCP will be Gay after the election and this has happened without the imposition from the centre of All-Gay/Woman/BME shortlists. Women for example are selected in roughly the proportion they put themselves forward.

In short most Tories have the view. "He's Gay, so what? Can he do the job?"

I am not ashamed of my party's stance on the diversity issues. Indeed studied indifference is better all round. I may wish they hadn't introduced Section 28, but please, have some perspective.

I hope this answers your question.

Anita said...

Not sure if you're aware, Jackart, but on Saturday Iain Dale condemned Grayling's words and quite firmly as well.

Paul said...

Good debate going on here with good comments from both Claude and Jackart. I must admit that the Grayling comments do pose a dilemma for any Libertarian. We do not want constant State intrusion and nannying. Then again should we just leave it to market forces and let a bigot go out of business?

Jackart said...

OK. For the benefit of Anita. The short version of my views.

I don't care about group rights.

The long version, restated:

Next to the bankrupting of the country, and the war we are fighting, and the deep corruption of British Politics by New Labour, Graylings expression of a mild opinion in tune with a huge section of the population, and expressive of a support for individual freedom of consience, is a matter which should be a matter of the profoundest indifference to any sane person.

The hysterical "burn the heretic" lynch-mob, thought police mentality shown by the left says more about your political movement than ours.

As for Iain Dale, he's a lovely guy. What's his official position in the Tory party?

claude said...

Jackart:
"thought police mentality shown by the left "

And how do you call the one shown consistently "by the right" in the past 30 years......"willy police"?

Just to remind you, until not so long ago, whoever disagreed with the pasdarans of Section 28 (like any mainstream Tory would do nowadays) was -until recently- routinely referred to as a "LOONY LEFTY".

Let's not try and pretend that the Conservative have been the party of sexual liberation now. Please. Denial does nobody no good.

Jackart said...

Claude, I am not saying that the Tory Party has been the party of Gay rights. I think I have been clear: Tories are not interested in Gay Rights or any other group rights. It's the tradition of individual liberty which started with Magna Carta in which we are interested.

Personally, I don't support legislation like Section 28, (never met a regulation I wouldn't repeal) and would have voted for its repeal. but put it in the context of the Loony left councils, forcing sexual identity politics down the throats of young children and parents didn't like it. They didn't like it at all.

To mistake section 28 for profound Homophobia is nothing more than leftist cant.

There are Homophobes in the Tory party, but they're not representative, and Grayling isn't one of them. It isn't just the right, It was Liberal Democrat, Mark Oaten (who has set the bar extremely high for any subsequent political sexual scandal) who ran against Peter Tatchell as "the straight choice".

In the B&B instance, there is a clash of freedoms: religious and sexual. Someone's freedom gets trampled. Either you're gaoling a devout Christian (bigot) who doesn't want Gays under their roof, or you're asking Gays, politely to find somewhere more suitable.

You ever been turned away from a Night-Club because you aren't gay? It happens. What's the difference between that and being turned away from a B&B for not being straight? That too is a denial of goods and services on the grounds of sexuality.

You'll splutter .... But ... But.... it's not the same.

The problem is the whole equality and diversity law set just encourages people to play victim poker as every group, religion and sexual orientation competes for "most discriminated" status, which means their identity is the trump card.

Group identity politics is divisive, insidious and corrosive. Which is why the Tory tradition, imperfect though it is, is better than the Left in guaranteeing individual freedom.

claude said...

Jackart,
maybe because you genuinely feel ashamed or you find it repulsive, but I reckon somehow you've decided to play down what has been (now in the past, hopefully) a staggering history of homophobia in significant sections of the Conservatives.

For a party "not interested" in gay rights, I'd like to know what "interested" means then, because their history of sticking their nose into the life of gay people has been quite relentless.

"If you want a queer for a neigbour vote Labour", was the infamous slogan used by Tory MP Peter Griffiths at the 1985 Conservative conference amidst a resounding round of applause.

In their late-80s literature in the run-up to Section 28, Tory MPs kept referring to "the gay plague". The Tory leader of Staffordshire council said "As a cure I would put 90 per cent of queers in the ruddy gas chambers".

Let's not forget the wording of Section 28: "Promoting homosexuality" and "spreading disease". Tradition of individual liberty, right?

When Section 28 was passed, Margaret Thatcher herself saluted it as a step towards restoring "Victorian values". She also famously remarked: "Children who need to be taught to respect traditional moral values are being taught that they have an inalienable right to be gay".

Days after Section 28 passed, in the midst of all the furore, the London newspaper Capital Gay was burned down, and one Tory MP declared that the arsonists were justified. Elaine Kellett-Bowman, another Tory MP, weighed in saying: "There should be an intolerance of evil." Margaret Thatcher made her a Dame the same year.

Let's not forget that David Cameron apologised for it. He didn't just say he changed his mind, he apologised for Section 28. Now, if that should mean something, then it means that it was more than just a shabby piece of legislation. It means it was appalling.

As for "the Loony left councils, forcing sexual identity politics down the throats of young children and parents", as you so wonderfully put it, I'm afraid that's just a slogan, vintage ca-1988 Daily Mail material.

How would you "force identity politics down a children's or parent's throat"? The sentence itself rings quite sick, actually.

Because what the right back then slammed as "Loony Leftist" simply consisted of anti-bullying helplines or counselling services or safe-sex literature. That was seen as "Loony" or an attempt to "promote" homosexuality.

If you do agree that it was "loony" or an attempt to "promote" (that is, I'm guessing, "force down someone's throat") then you'll find you probably quite agree with Section 28 after all.

I read your blogpage and I thought you didn't. Maybe I need to read it again.

I maintain. Each single accusation of "Loony Leftism" as thrown at Liberals and Labour in the 1980s has been not only retracted but adopted as acceptable by today's Conservatives.

####
you wrote:
"It was Liberal Democrat, Mark Oaten (who has set the bar extremely high for any subsequent political sexual scandal) who ran against Peter Tatchell as "the straight choice".

I think you'll find that it Simon Hughes who ran against Peter Tatchell.

claude said...

"to my mind the fuss made by both sides over section 28 is absurd."

This doesn't make any sense. There wouldn't have been any fuss at all if Section 28 had not been introduced!

It's like saying the fuss over the 50p tax rate is absurd, so let's not support nor oppose it. That meaning really that it might as well stay as it is.

Is that a political stance?

Jackart said...

I stand corrected about Simon Hughes. Though you'll agree that Oaten HAS set the bar extremely high for any political sexual scandal?

Society was more homophobic in the 80's.

Watch any comedy: Blackadder II. when Edmund goes to the Dr. "You'll find you're a disgusting homosexual with no more right to live on God's clean earth than a weasel... I'd rather be a Quack than a Ducky - Good day!".

It grates now. Are you going to call Ben Elton and Richard Curtis Homophobes? No.

3 Labour Governments since the war failed to legalise homosexuality. Gays were still considered a security risk until John Major's administration.

Times change. The Tories are always going to have their reactionary wing - and yes, have moved slower on some issues, but to paint them as "the party of section 28" then use that as a reason to vote for Gordon Brown is just pathetic.

Grayling's remarks were innocuous in the light of competing freedoms. Not everyone is obsessed with "Gay rights". Not even all gays.

claude said...

Surely, yeah, society was more homophobic and it's something that has gradually improved. Like racism. Some will always remain, but thankfully it's been confined to the fringe. In my view, also, thanks to some legislative measures (which is where we probably agree to disagree).

Yes, Mark Oaten set the bar extremely high etc.

However, I really don't get remarks such as "Not everyone is obsessed with "Gay rights".", because you can say that about any issue: from tax to foxhunting, to military spending, to the BBC, to religion, to immigration, to Europe, to 24hour licensing, to smoking, to... you name it.

As for a question you posed yesterday:
"At some point, where rights to religious freedom, and equality legislation clash, there is a debate to be had about which trumps what"

It's a good question and, definitely, it needs addressing asap. My view is that equal rights win.

Because otherwise we start (or continue to) justify forced marriages, women's seclusion, punitive laws imposition of certain dress codes, sheer homophobia and other discrimination.

Jackart said...

"Because otherwise we start (or continue to) justify forced marriages, women's seclusion, punitive laws imposition of certain dress codes, sheer homophobia and other discrimination."

I disagree. All these things are amenable to an approach of individual liberty. We don't need to force people to live together happily. We need to accept that some people are religious loons and make different choices about who they do business with.

There are laws (rape, false imprisonment) which would cover forced marriage. It is not the states role to decide what people wear (so I wouldn't ban the Niqab - no one wears a Burkha).

My view is The state shouldn't be forcing people to do business with each other. That is a form of slavery.

So... some Gays can't (if a personal, off the record opinion of a shadow minister becomes law) stay in a tiny number of B&Bs run by some Religious eccentrics. It's not exactly Jim Crow, is it?

Perspective, please!

claude said...

"So... some Gays can't (if a personal, off the record opinion of a shadow minister becomes law) stay in a tiny number of B&Bs run by some Religious eccentrics. It's not exactly Jim Crow, is it?"

Back to square one.

That is not the point.

That would make it possible for other B&Bs (and why not restaurants, cafes, bars, pubs then for that matter...why should they eat and be served food in my property?!) to do the same with black people, muslims, whites, sikhs, jews, disabled people etc etc.

How would that make a better society?

So that we can just say we're reading from the libertarian hymn sheet - chapter 34 verse 5?

"It is not the states role to decide what people wear "
That's a totally different matter. I don't recall advocating that. The UKIP do though. It's one of their official proposals.

claude said...

Consider allowing immigrant men to bring in multiple wives. "Your state" would recognise their polygamous marriages and various discriminatory practices (including "assigning" teenage girls to older men for marriage) that goes with certain religious convictions.

It ain't gonna be easy to prove false imprisonment there, is it? Especially if the most subjugated members of the family don't find the courage to speak out.

A lesbian lady can be sacked from a business because the new owner says it goes against his religious beliefs. That would be fine. And then she tries to go for another job and one after the other turn her down. Because they don't like those dirty gays.

Nice society, that would be great. Looking fwd to living in it.

Jackart said...

Yes.. but that will not happen! The law, the full, coercive violence of the law is just not necessary in this instance.

Would you, or anyone you know, go to a whites only bar?

If there was a whites only chain of hotels, would you and everyone you know boycott it?

The law is not needed and serves to create problems in the tiny minority of cases where two groups are playing victimhood poker with their respective rights.

What you're saying is that society, were it not for a handful of well-meaning people to run things, would revert to KKK lynch mobs and segregation.

That, in final analysis, is the unpleasant arrogance of the left. Let people be! Yay even unto the bigots. For that is true freedom.

Your freedom is a kind of slavery.

claude said...

"Would you, or anyone you know, go to a whites only bar?"

I wouldn't. But unfortunately I've met some fuckers in my life, NF and BNP types, who said they would.

And said the same, and worse, about LGBT.

"What you're saying is that society, were it not for a handful of well-meaning people to run things, would revert to KKK lynch mobs and segregation."

Hello?
I mean, that answers your question, nice and clear.

"KKK lynch mobs and segregation" is something not from a fairy tale book. It's no figment of some loony leftie's imagination.

It happened! It bloody happened! And it wasn't the invisible hand of the "free market" that put an end to it.

The No Irish No Blacks No Dogs signs were real. Until the awful nasty patronising state decided that a civilised society cannot tolerate that and put an end to it.

It was the state that stopped it. And not the invisible hand of the ghost of Adam Smith.

"Let people be! Yay even unto the bigots. For that is true freedom."
Ask the gay boy who gets bullied to fuck or the Asian guys who'd get "oi paki" routinely shouted at them across the street. And that's when they don't start on you.
For that is true freedom.

Taronja said...

I don't wish to get drawn into this, but don't you get the feeling sometimes that so-called "libertarians" are the last of the ideologically blind?

I think it shows my age, but they really remind me of oldskool trozkyst and communists in the way they blindly brandish their libertarian textbook around and cling onto abstract beliefs 'because that's what a truly socialist society would do', irrespective of reality.

Taronja said...

As a gay man I have lived employment discrimination against me and some of my mates.

We've already experienced Jackart's society where that was possible and would self-correct itself.

You speak as if equality laws had been with us since the dawn of civilisation. You don't realise that they where belatedly brought in to correct abuse that simply wasn't coreecting itself.

It just blows me away to see how trying to stop people from abusing minorities is then depicted as the minorities abusing their former abusers. So allegedly I'm abusing someone because I'm trying to stop this someone from discriminating, insulting, segregating. Fuck me. Talk about unpleasant arrogance.

Jackart said...

And me, the English guy in Edinburgh, getting a kicking because of my accent. How do you think I got on in a game of Victim poker?

Yeah. The policeman's exact words were "go to bed, posh boy".

Society has moved on. Racism (except against the English in Scotland) is no longer acceptable, and that is not because of Laws. The laws reflect society, not the other way round.

So you *HONESTLY* believe that there is a huge untapped market for night-clubs and bars unsullied by darkies? Still?

It must be horrible imagining everyone is secretly a filthy bigot only held in check by your equality laws! Equality laws, taken to their extreme lead straight to the chankiri tree. Yet I haven't sought to use that rhetorically, until you blamed the KKK on the free market.

Let the bigots be. Ignore them, for they are few in number. Don't turn them into Martyrs. They no longer run things.

claude said...

"Yet I haven't sought to use that rhetorically, until you blamed the KKK on the free market."

Eh? Did I?
What I said is that it wasn't the free market that stopped the KKK and segregation. It was nasty nanny state that pulled the plug on it.

The hooligans chucking bananas onto football pitches at players like John Barnes did not wake up one day and said: "oh crickey this is awfully unpleasant, we ought to stop".

I wish they had. We all wish they had. But in the end, really, it was arrogant unpleasant nanny state that decided enough is enough. And now it's deemed automatically unacceptable.

"So you *HONESTLY* believe that there is a huge untapped market for night-clubs and bars unsullied by darkies? Still?"

I never said a "huge" market. I don't know how small, but there is one. And it could be unsullied by whities too, mind. Discrimination go multiple ways.

Jackart said...

Well the disagreement is whether you think law leads or follows society.

We both disapprove of bigots. We all want people to just be able to get on with their lives as they see fit.

We just disagree about the best way to go about it! It's been fun.

claude said...

We agree to disagree, but it's nice to have a civilised debate. No mean feat on the internet.