Sunday, April 04, 2010

Does David Cameron agree with Grayling?

Peter Tatchell: Chris Grayling must apologise and retract and the Tories need to state whether they support B&B discrimination.

Chris Grayling should apologise and retract his support for discrimination against gay couples by B&B owners. His comments create serious doubts about the Conservative party's commitment to lesbian and gay equality.

David Cameron needs to clarify whether he agrees with Chris Grayling that B&B owners should have a right to turn away gay couples.

Mr Cameron's silence is worrying. Many voters will be disturbed by his failure to swiftly disown Mr Grayling's support for anti-gay discrimination. It is not acceptable for the Tories to have a shadow Home Secretary who supports homophobic discrimination. Chris Grayling should be moved to a shadow post that does not involve equality issues.

Was Chris Grayling speaking for himself or for the Conservative party? The public is entitled to know. If was speaking against Conservative party policy, his position in the Shadow cabinet is no longer tenable.

The Conservatives don't agree with B&B's refusing accommodation to black or Jewish couples. If race discrimination is wrong, why is Chris Grayling saying that homophobic discrimination is right? According to the law, no one providing services to the public, such as B&B accommodation, has a right to discriminate.

Chris Grayling is a leading Conservative and he opposes this legislation. Many gay people fear that if the Conservatives win the general election they might amend equality legislation to allow some forms of homophobic discrimination and permit further opt-outs by religious organisations and individuals.

Peter Tatchell is the human rights spokesperson for the Green Party of England and Wales. Click here to read more about his campaigns.


Philipa said...

I don't have a problem with Chris Grayling's comments. He is simply putting forward the issue of sensitivity to genuine religious constraints it seems to me. Graylings view is not a homophobic one as detailed in that link. There is a debate to be had I think. It is not a black and white issue and it seems that Tatchell is trying to make it one. The recently publicised case was an "incitement to hatred against [the B&B owners] because of their faith" which is equally against the law.

claude said...

Philipa, "would you not have a problem" the same way if the reason to turn away the two men was the colour of their skin or maybe if they'd been Jewish?

Philipa said...

Christian faith does not advocate an avoidance of this or that skin colour I don't think. But the Muslim faith does counsel against touching or socialising with infidels doesn't it? I'm more informed on the Christian faith and even then not completely, I'm not a theologian. So I think this is why a debate should be had - we should be informed. Even to the point where the religious sensitivity enshrined in current law is debated and the balance of the expectations placed on ordinary people in their homes discussed.

claude said...

I don't have much time for discrimination, let alone religious-based one.

Fact is, the current UK law is quite clear on the subject. It says that, whereas a private business has the right to refuse admission (i.e. if the manager/owner spots a bunch of pissed up people, potential football-related troublemakers, rowdy people, dress code related, etc),...for intrinsic characteristic such as race, gender, sexuality, religion, disability discrimination is prohibited.

It is that simple.

My view is: a B&B is by definition a business activity that will lead to people you don't know set foot in your own home.

If you're likely to be offended by the idea of having certain categories of people in your own B&B then, quite simply, don't open one.

Philipa said...

Claude, I understand your view but still I think there is a wider debate to had about religious tolerance. The B&B issue is simply a mechanism to bring that about.

You say you don't have much time for discrimination but that's not true is it? We all discriminate in that we all have preferences and make judgements on what is good and what is bad. Then we have the state telling us what to think. My view is that a debate on such fundamental issues is a good thing. For how can any of us happily change our views and arrive at a fair society for all without debate? Of course for debate to be worthwhile then all sides have to listen, and be heard. At the moment is seems that any debate from the platform of homosexuality is stifled by accusations of homophobia.

Philipa said...

Claude, I thought this article may be of interest to you.

claude said...

"Then we have the state telling us what to think"

The state doesn't tell you what to think. You can think whatever you like. The point is that your public behaviour needs to be respecful of other people.

I can think that I despise my neighbour and wish I could slap him in the face. But can you imagine if there weren't any legal consequences stopping us from putting what we think into action?

So what the state does, simply, is give a set of rules designed to help us live in a civilised society, whereby people don't walk around insulting, threatening or discriminating people on the basis of intrinsic characteristic (that is: traits they were born with, such as skin colour, sexual preferences or gender).

Do you really think that the perfect society is one where each shop or retail business or bar are perfectly free to stick a sign on their door saying "no Blacks", or "no Asians"? And then another "no Jews", and another "no Christians and no tall people"? And then another "no ginger and no lesbians", or even "no Tories", etc etc etc?

Is that the type of society you'd like to live in, Philipa?

Seriously now.

That would take us back to Medieval tribalism and the rule of the pitchfork within 5 minutes.

We all wish we didn't have laws telling them us what to do (or not to do).

But realistically, sometimes a clear line needs drawing. The current law is necessary.

You say that "At the moment it seems that any debate from the platform of homosexuality is stifled by accusations of homophobia.", but do you wonder why?

We live in a world where people are still bullied and sometimes attacked (and sometimes with deadly consequences) purely because of their sexual preferences. There's a terrible history of dicrimination and homophobia which needs stamping out.

Only ten years ago a certain chap placed a nail bomb in a pub in central London aimed at maiming as many people as possible purely due to their sexual preference.

It's amazing how the debate gets routinely turned on its head so that you get racists wailing that they're no longer free to be racists because, shock horror and "you-couldnt-make-it-up", the state tells them that's no longer possible.

And homophobes too. How dare the state and the PC brigade tell us off for 'aving a larff at that poofter? wats 'appenin to our freedoms?

And note how no-one is ever racist or homophobic, right? They all have a gay mate or a black neighbour they get on perfectly well with...

Philipa said...

The State does tell us what to think by it's behaviour.

And of course people are racist and homophobic, there are bullies everywhere who bully people because they are tall, or single or have red hair, just different to them. And of course I don't advocate that, I'm a single mother who has had her fair share of bullying. I've sat in a room full of married mothers at a national charities coffee morning and watched them go around the room inviting each mother to dinner and missing me out. That was horrible. As was the suggestion to join another group where I would find 'people like me'.

But legislation would never garner a warmer welcome. I would never be invited to their house. I fight against the prejudice against single mothers but there's a reasonable limit to my expectations of society. And single mothers die too and society does nothing. We are bullied by ex-partners (we are single for a reason and not all of us are feckless teens) and killed by them after months, years of stress and intimidation. Yet the woman is often blamed for somehow causing some arsehole for killing his wife and children. Of course I fight against discrimination and prejudice.

But that has nothing to do with agreeing with a call for a wider debate on religious tolerance. I think this issue should be debated. There seems to me to be a tension in some of our laws between sensible freedoms and the constraints of religions. Perhaps it's time these were discussed and the issue of religious tolerance re-visited.

Jackart said...

I've been having a similar debate with Claude over at another thread. I am Inclined to agree with Phillipa.

B&B owners should be free to discriminate, and I should be free to call them nasty little bigots and refuse to use their B&B.