Thursday, March 29, 2007

Cardinals' sin

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, speaking yesterday in Westminster Cathedral Hall, accused Labour of legislating for intolerance.

In an outspoken attack on equality legislation the Cardinal said "I want to appeal tonight for the freedom to believe and the freedom to serve the common good according to the convictions of our faith. For it is in the nature of who we Christians are to serve society, to be recognised by the sign of love, and to discover for ourselves and lead others to discover the inviolable dignity of every human person."

In the first place it was misleading to say that the Catholic Church teaches about "the inviolable dignity of every human person." It does not. The words were those of a man who summarily dismissed his press aide for being gay. In fact the Catholic Church has a record of persecuting gay men and women, as well as others of whom they disapproved.

So we see that the Catholic Church has a poor record of support for "the inviolable dignity of every human person."

Cardinal Ratzinger, now the Pope, wrote "Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder."

And Ratzinger went on to comment that when homosexual activity is condoned, or when "civil legislation is introduced to protect behavior to which no one has any conceivable right, neither the Church nor society at large should be surprised when other distorted notions and practices gain ground, and irrational and violent reactions increase."

Legislation cannot force Catholics to love gay men and women any more than it can force racists to love all people equally. But it will ensure all people are treated with respect, and that can only be a good thing ... indeed it's something which a fair-mined person should support. If the Cardinal does not support these laws, the public will conclude that it is proof of hypocrisy and intolerance.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

All people equal?

On the 200th anniversary of laws abolishing the British slave trade the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, has called on Britain to make a formal apology for the slave trade. In those days the Church largely supported slavery and chuch bells rang out in celebration after an earlier Parliamentary attempt to abolish the trade had been unsuccessful.

A driving force behind abolition was William Wilberforce, a Christian man who believed all people were born equal. Yet when the Archbishop of York spoke last Wednesday in the House of Lords debate it was to support the right to discriminate. At the start of a speech filled with sophistry, skewed logic and special pleading the Archbishop invoked Wilberforce's name to support his position.

It was left to the next speaker, Baroness Howarth of Breckland, to more appropriately associate William Wilberforce's name with equality.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Here are some BBC online news reports relating to the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007:

Cameron to back adoption row law
No exemption from gay rights law
Gay adoption rules 'rail-roaded'
Blair defends gay adoption laws

Contrary to the impression given by those news reports, the legislation discussed in the House of Lords is not a gay rights law, and neither is it a gay adoption law. It is an equality law which applies to heterosexuals as well as lesbian, gay and bisexual people, and its purpose is to make discrimination in the provision of goods and services unlawful.

So why has one BBC news online headline after another failed to give the law a sensible title. Yes true the "Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007" is a bit too long for a catchy headline but given that more details are be included in each news report, why didn't the newsroom just opt for "equality law"?

Why not have these headlines instead of the ones above:

Cameron to back equality law
No exemption from equality law
Equality regulations 'rail-roaded'
Blair defends anti-discrimination laws

Also, notice from the BBC News webstite how much coverage was given to Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor and his supporters compared to the amount of coverage given to equality supporters. BBC video clips, too, show a strong bias towards opponents of the equality laws. In this report (Realplayer) by Robert Pigott, equality supporters hardly get a look in.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The BBC's Statements of Programme Policy 2007/2008 should be published fairly soon. I've written to Mark Thompson again in the past few days to suggest that it would be a good idea to make a small change to the current wording which was quoted in my blog dated 4 March 2007.

Here is the wording I suggested: The BBC's purpose – largely unchanged in 80 years – is to enrich the life of every person in the UK regardless of age, ability, income, sex, race, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity with programmes that inform, educate and entertain.

I'm still not sure if Mr Thompson wants to make the change to the SoPP as I've not received a reply from him, possibly because he's against the suggested change and won't give his reasons, or alternatively it could be because thinks he's too important to reply in person. BBC Information has been working overtime on the Director-General's behalf though they haven't managed to shed any light on the answer to my enquiry.

Mr Thompson has been made aware of substantial evidence of deliberate anti-gay discrimination in the Corporation, including examples not written about in this blog. My suggested SoPP wording change sends out a clear message that any future discrimination would be against the BBC's ethos.


Cyril Husbands has now left the BBC and moved to Berkshire Consultancy. Newsround blog send our best wishes to him for the future.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Blue Peter was in trouble today about a phone competition last November. Like most channels the BBC got found out and came clean. Richard Deverell was interviewed by Jon Snow live on Channel 4 News. But when it comes to phone votes and competitions the BBC is generally a lot more trustworthy and honest than its commercial rivals, and when charities are involved they usually give a much higher percentage of the phone call cost away.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Current developments

On 4 February 2007 I mentioned that there have been some hopeful signs. No changes are yet apparent on the programme or website but the BBC is now looking into the situation from an equality viewpoint.

Newsround's In The News messageboard has carried an interesting debate, now drawing to a close, about gay adoption. Most of the posts have supported equal gay rights.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

A draft of the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007 has now been published.

The new regulations are due to come into effect late next month. It will then be illegal for organisations to discriminate against anyone because of their sexual orientation. Similar regulations are already in force in Northern Ireland.

The BBC does not have any exemption from the regulations.

Happy International Women's Day

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

More teachers' notes

A very worthy subject about the abolition of slavery is covered under the title of People Power.

The Icebreaker section asks: Which are the issues that you would stand up for? And goes on to suggest looking at what Newsround viewers said.

But did any viewers say they would stand up for gay rights? We don't know, of course, because Newsround discriminates against gay people and wouldn't allow messages from fair-minded people who believe in diversity and equal rights.

So if the Newsround was broadcast 200 years ago they might be censoring messages from kids who were against slavery.

Doesn't sound very much like People Power does it?

Sunday, March 04, 2007

The importance of diversity and lgbt people

Recently some scientists have been carrying out experiments to find out if there is a biological cause of "gayness." Martina Navratilova drew attention to this when she wrote to Oregon State University pleading for the experiments to cease. Martina wrote: "How can it be that, in the year 2006, a major university would host such homophobic and cruel experiments? ... For the sake of the animals who will die unnecessarily in these experiments and for the many gays and lesbians who stand to be deeply offended by the social implications of these tests, I ask that you please end these studies at once".

I've only covered a tiny fraction of people in a series of short cameos during February for LGBT history month. And the people I mentioned are all definitely from the lgbt community. But what would happen if these studies prove that "gayness" can be removed from sheep, and later a way is found to ensure humans are always heterosexual?

Would parents be allowed to screen out lesbian and gay kids? If the answer is yes, then the it carries an implied message: humans have no intrinsic value - we are here in order to reproduce and continue the human race, but our individual lifetime achievements are irrelevant. People without progeny - Newton, da Vinci and Beethoven - what are they worth.

No one knows for sure whether these people in history were gay, but if humans had always been specially selected for their propensity to procreate it is certain that many important people would never have lived.

The world is already seriously overpopulated and the last thing we need now is to ensure that everyone in future is heterosexual. Long live DIVERSITY.


The BBC is taking a very long time to reply to my question about the Statements of Programme Policy 2007/2008. I was only asking if the Director-General would mind amending "The Purpose of the BBC" section near the beginning so that in future there is explicit mention of some other minorities. The 2006/2007 version reads:

The BBC’s purpose – largely unchanged in 80 years – is to enrich the life of every person in the UK regardless of age, income, sex, race or religion with programmes that inform, educate and entertain.

If the BBC is really committed to principles of equality and dIvErSiTy then you might think the Director-General would be happy to agree.