Bigotry or Dissent?

As dissenters are labelled bigots and homophobes in the same-sex marriage debate; has Britain become too intolerant for free speech?

The debate over same-sex marriage has brought home to me how intolerant the British have become of dissenting opinions. After the publication of an anodyne letter I sent to the Spectator suggesting that some might dispute the moral equivalence between conjugal and gay sex, I was congratulated by one journalist for my “courage”, while another confided in me that, although he opposed same-sex marriage, he would never dare say so in print.

The words “homophobe” and “bigot” are freely used to smear those who defend the teaching of all the world’s great religions that carnal exchanges between members of the same sex are wrong. Of course, the bigots and homophobes dare not use pejorative terms such as “degenerate”, “depraved”, “perverse” or “vicious” in return. Cardinal Keith O’Brien of Glasgow called the proposal for same-sex marriage “grotesque”, but even he did not condemn gay sex as such. The arguments of church leaders have concentrated on the issue of marriage as the source of procreation and family life.

The government’s proposals depend for their acceptance on the shallow learning of the younger generation. Wholly absent from the debate is any reference to the philosophical tradition of natural law running from Plato through Aquinas, Hooker, Grotius, Hobbes and Locke to today’s Professor of Law at Oxford University, John Finnis. And any suggestion that homosexuality might be a psychological disorder is considered heretical by our politically correct inquisitors. The American psychiatrist, the late Charles Socarides, who held that homosexual tendencies arise through a failure in gender identification in the first two or three years of a child’s life, received death threats and saw his books burned by gay activists in the US.

The supporters of same-sex marriage, however, are permitted to propagate their own cod psychology. In The Times Matthew Parris told his readers that a survey of 160 students in America and Germany established a clear link between “homophobia” and latent homosexuality. Thanks, Matthew. Now I know. California, here I come!

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