Category Archives: LGBTQ Rights

Hate Where Hate Deserves

It has been well said that loathing is like swallowing poison and expecting the object of your ire to sicken. Both religious and secular people have warned us against hatred as an inherently and exclusively destructive entity; a force capable only of tearing down and never building up. Well, like a modern day Gordon Gekko, I come before you today to extol  this traditionally negative trait: hatred is good. Hatred can be virtuous, it can be useful, and it can be necessary. Directed properly, it can be a powerful engine for positive change, provided that its target is something worth destroying.

Admittedly, the statement that “hatred is good” cannot be unqualified. Some elaboration is necessary. It seems to me that hatred in itself is a victimless crime, a personally held emotion that directly affects only the one who feels it. To suggest otherwise is to flirt with the idea of thoughtcrime. No-one has ever been killed or maimed by hatred, though countless have been stricken by the potential consequences of hatred. So the first point must be that while I am claiming that hatred can be good, I am certainly not endorsing every possible pathway down which such a feeling can lead. A useful analogy may be drawn from another “deadly sin”. Looking upon a person with lust, however biblically exaggerated, is not adultery by any stretch of the reasonable imagination. In fact, it affects no-one except the person experiencing the lust. Only by acting on that feeling can there be the possibility of any damage. In the same way, hatred is something which is felt internally; only acting upon this feeling can possibly have harmful consequences.

To return to the toxic comparison offered in the introduction, even if hatred is not, in and of itself, harmful to those around it, is it not true to say that it is deleterious to the individual who feels it? This is a very serious objection, and is the one that I feel comes closest to making a complete mockery of my entire thesis. Having experienced hatred on numerous occasions, I can agree that it is often accompanied by some unpleasant sensations of envy, disappointment and resentment. The very fact that hatred on its own can do no damage beyond the mind it inhabits makes that mind a prime target. I can only say that I have also felt hatred coupled with feelings of justice, righteousness and powerful motivation. As anecdotal evidence, this is very weak. The best I can argue is that those who claim that hatred must necessarily be a negative influence within person are as wrong as those who claim that hatred must necessarily be a positive influence. There is no room for absolutism here, and to reiterate, hatred only can be a good thing, if harnessed and utilised in the right way.

Certain aspects of the world are undeniably hateful. Human beings are regularly imprisoned, tortured and killed for nonexistent crimes like speaking the wrong words, thinking the wrong things or loving the wrong person. Despite all evidence to the contrary, people still make prejudicial judgements about others based upon the least relevant and blameworthy traits of their target; their race, their gender or their sexuality. Lying and manipulation of the facts bring power and renown rather than scorn and opprobrium. I can say, with no hint of apology, that I hate these facts about the world. Further than that, I hate that so many individuals exhibit these evil ideas, and I hate the ideas themselves. (As always, my definition of evil is very simple and, I believe, unassailable: evil is the suffering of conscious creatures, whether the cause be agency or happenstance. If something causes evil, then it is is evil in this sense.) When these characteristics seem endemic to a particular person, I confess that my hatred sometimes spills over into hatred of the individual, but this seems ultimately counterproductive: better to hate a person’s moral failings, and attempt to get them to discard them.

An important side issue results from this final statement. This seems dangerously close to the Christian idea of “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” Largely, I don’t have any real issue with this idea. “Love” might be a bit strong, as a person who consistently lies to me is unlikely to gain my affection, but I can at least agree that we ought not to hate this individual, but to hate the harmful consequences of their dishonesty and hope for their rehabilitation. Sadly, the most common use of this adage is these days used in opposition to homosexuality, a case where there is simply no sin to hate. When we love the homosexual and hate their homosexuality, we are essentially trying to say, “I love you, but I hate a core aspect of your character that you are completely incapable of changing.” This use cannot be countenanced.

So having build up a repository of hatred towards the injustices of the world, what are we to do with it? Hatred is a powerful emotion that drives people to fervent and sometimes obsessive behaviour. Herein lies the creative principle of hatred. I can hate bigotry, and channel this feeling into action towards destroying this loathsome institution and at the same time building a world in which we treat our fellow primates with respect and judge them not on their biology, but on the content of their character, to paraphrase Martin Luther King Jr. If I refuse to accept that it is justified to prosecute a person for blasphemy – the ultimate victimless crime – and harness my intense opposition to this stupidity, I can stand up and say confidently that such practices have no place in our world, and ought to be abolished. Indeed, there are many things to which the only reasonable response is hatred. Faced with mass genocide or indiscriminate torture, our initial reaction ought not to be tolerance and understanding, though an attempt to understand may be attempted at a later point, but hatred and disgust, and an intense desire to avert these terrible events. Hatred can be enormously beneficial, provided that it is not the end, but the means to an end. I am not asking you to live a life filled with loathing; love, laughter and passion are too important and too enjoyable to be overrun by hatred. But when you do inevitably feel hatred, I am simply asking you to tame it, and trammel it towards that admirable goal: to leave the world a little better than you found it.


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Out With the Old and In With the New?

Well, the conclave has met and elected a new Pope in just a few short days. This was an opportunity for the highest echelons of the Roman Catholic Church to address the problems that have plagued it in recent times, and to find a new boss who is willing to help the Church to adapt in the face of its continuing slide into irrelevance. As the world painfully drags itself towards a point where homosexuals are considered fully human, where women are considered owners of their own bodies, and where the terminally ill have a right to choose how and when they die, and not be forced to wait for their ailment to cause their body so much trauma that it ceases function, a Pope was needed who was at least willing to enter the conversation on these vital social issues.

Enter Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the former Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Cardinal-Priest of S. Roberto Bellarmino. Ordinary for the Ordinariate for the Faithful of Eastern Rites in Argentina, and now Pope Francis. Pretty much the nicest thing I can say about this newly infallible chap is that he looks less like Emperor Palpatine than Ratzinger. An illustrative quote says all that really needs to be said:

“Let’s not be naïve, we’re not talking about a simple political battle; it is a destructive pretension against the plan of God. We are not talking about a mere bill, but rather a machination of the father of lies that seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God.” – Bergoglio on same-sex marriage.

According to the new boss, same-sex marriage is no mere misstep of miserable humanity, but an essential cog in the workings of the Devil’s plan to undo God. This is offensive enough to an unbeliever, simply because of the massive failure of basic decency and compassion that it belies, but coming from someone who believes with utmost conviction that the Devil and the God are real entities, this is beyond despicable.

The grass is no greener when we turn to his views on abortion and euthanasia, describing the former as being part of a “culture of death”. I really ought not to be surprised, but as someone who actually gives a shit about my fellow humans, it only takes one story of a woman being denied an abortion on religious grounds, despite medical advice stating that this was the best possible avenue, and then dying along with her child to make me realise that those religious grounds have no place in an ethical discussion. And we have far more than just one story. Of course, we could eliminate the need for countless abortions if we put in place a comprehensive scheme of sex education about the wonderful benefits of contraception which, as well as helping in the fight against sexually-transmitted infections, greatly reduce the need for abortions. But, alas, Bergoglio is opposed to that too, all but guaranteeing that women will die carrying unwanted children, and children will be born into poverty, disease and suffering.

Your average Catholic is simply better than their Church. Even some elements of the Church itself realise how foolish and destructive this doctrine against contraception can be – one need only cite the Winnipeg Statement, wherein the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops state that is is, “extremely difficult or impossible to make their own all elements of this doctrine.” According to Catholics for Choice, 96% of Catholic women have used contraception at some point in their lives, and 72% of those polled think one can be a good Catholic without following this absurd teaching. But, when it comes to the men at the top, it is fervent faith and willingness to maintain the status quo, and not human compassion and rationality that holds sway. Sadly, I must report that I have no faith that this change of papacy really constitutes a change at all. Such is anathema to the Roman Catholic Church.



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Lying for Traditional Marriage – Part 3

Reason 6: Marginalises the majority.

Calling opponents “bigots” is meant to shut down debate and stop people thinking for themselves. Nick Clegg landed in hot water over a draft speech which called opponents of redefining marriage “bigots”. He later retracted the word, but there’s no doubt that many who support this radical agenda think anyone who disagrees is not worthy of respect. Cardinal Keith O’Brien was labelled “bigot of the year” by gay rights activists, Stonewall. However, support for traditional marriage has come from many respected academics, lawyers, politicians from across the political spectrum, and religious leaders. They all know that redefining marriage would have a profound impact.”

So much wrong in so few words. Firstly, calling someone a bigot is not meant to shut down debate – it is meant to show that the person you are currently debating with is a bigot. Opposition to LGBTQ rights has had its time to show rational arguments for its position, and has entirely failed to do so (this asinine countdown is proof enough of that). Those respected academics, lawyers, politicians and religious leaders are bigots because there is no good reason to oppose LGBTQ rights that does not boil down to personal discomfort or baseless religious dogma. These are the same things that bigots of other stripes rely upon, and those who do rely on these to deny rights to their fellow humans can only be called bigots. This appeal to those who think that “traditional marriage” should be supported is a clear argument from authority, and is transparently ridiculous. David Hume was a racist, Aristotle wrote in support of slavery and Isaac Newton believed in alchemy. Does this diminish their achievements in other areas? One can be a terrible bigot, and yet still skilled at what they do.

Secondly, marginalising the majority? Not according to numerous UK and Scottish polls about attitudes to gay marriage. According to a 2012 YouGov poll, 55% of Britons support same-sex marriage, as opposed to 36% against. An Observer poll found 55% in favour of same-sex marriage. The Scottish Social Attitudes Survey found that 61% of people support same-sex marriage – somewhat torpedoing Marriage for Scotland’s specific claim of a put-upon majority. Yet another YouGov poll found an even greater support for same-sex marriage, 71% for.

However, the last part of the last sentence is absolutely true: Redefining marriage will have a profound impact, insofar as it will inevitably lead to same-sex marriage. What’s your point? Verdict: FALLACIOUS FUCKWITTERY.

Reason 7: Many gay people don’t want it. 

“Just four in ten members of the gay community see same-sex marriage as a priority, with only a quarter saying they would enter a same-sex marriage. A number of gay celebrities and journalists are themselves opposed to gay marriage. Latest official data shows that only 0.5 per cent of UK households are headed by a same-sex couple. Not all of them want, or will enter, a same-sex marriage. So why is such a monumental change being imposed throughout society?”

Easy: because a quarter of the gay community want to get married and legally cannot. This fantasy that this will constitute a “monumental change” is simply without basis – there will be no forty years of darkness, no cats and dogs living together, and no mass hysteria. All that will happen is that we’ll all be a little more equal, no matter what kind of junk gets our motor running. What if a majority of heterosexuals decided that marriage was outdated, and the statistics clearly showed that only a quarter of heterosexuals intend to get married – ought we abolish marriage altogether? Verdict: NOT ACTUALLY AN ARGUMENT.

Reason 8: The public don’t want it. 

“Most people in Scotland want marriage to stay as it is. In the Scottish Government’s consultation on the issue 64 per cent who responded said they opposed the plans. When an honest poll is taken, a majority, 55 per cent, agree that “marriage should continue to be defined as a life-long exclusive commitment between a man and a woman”. Only 38 per cent disagree. And half of all Scots want the matter to be decided by referendum, only 39 per cent want to leave it to MSPs. Ordinary people want the Scottish Government to concentrate on reviving the economy and providing better public services, not meddling with marriage.”

I have been unable to access the sources that Scotland for Marriage cite in their list, so I have no idea if they’re accurate. But I’ll gladly give them the benefit of the doubt, and simply cite the percentages I have already shown that show that the public, in actual fact, do want same-sex marriage to be legalised. All I can really do in this section is raise an eyebrow at the implication that all polls which disagree with them are dishonest, and make the emphatic point that human rights should not be subject to vote. I understand that they are, but this fact makes it clear that there ought to be only one outcome to that vote, and that is the full extension of human rights to all humans, including the right to marry whoever you love, wherever you please (within reason, obviously – no child marriages in abbatoirs).It’s fine that same-sex marriage is not a priority for most people, but since it is under consideration already, there’s no reason that it shouldn’t be dealt with while it is on the table. Verdict: WRONG, AND ODDLY IRRELEVANT.

Reason 9: A huge change to society.

Since we already have civil partnerships, isn’t same-sex marriage just a small logical next step? No. Rewriting the meaning of marriage will have a far-reaching impact on society. Over 3,000 UK laws make reference to marriage. The UK Government has already admitted that official documents will need to be rewritten to remove words like ‘husband’ and ‘wife’. In France the Government is eradicating the words ‘father’ and ‘mother’ from all official documents.”

Ahh, I see, so the huge change to society is simply a matter of proper wording? Shame on me for assuming that your implication was that this would cause terrible stress and strife to the poor populace. But really, what’s the problem? Yes, a lot of documents will need to be rewritten, and a lot of terminology will need to be changed – this is the case with any change in law. Same-sex marriage is no different than any other legal proceeding in this. The point that over 3,000 UK laws make reference to marriage is a huge red herring, as these laws will now simply apply to a greater number of couples, requiring no change at all unless they use gendered language. Verdict: JUST… WHAT?

Reason 10: Freedom of conscience will be eroded.

“The civil liberty of people who believe in traditional marriage is already being eroded. The former leader of the SNP, Gordon Wilson, was ousted from the Dundee Citizens Advice Bureau because of his support for traditional marriage. South of the border, a housing manager from Manchester was demoted and lost 40 per cent of his salary for stating, outside work time, that gay weddings in churches were “an equality too far”. And all this has taken place before any change to the law has taken place. What will it be like if the law does change? A leading human rights lawyer has outlined the devastating impact of redefining marriage on civil liberties in Scotland.”

Now let’s take a closer look at these sob stories. In the case of Gordon Wilson, he was not fired from his job, but rather failed to gain re-election to his position with the Dundee Citizens Advice Bureau. This was due to his position on same-sex marriage, but I fail to see how this is an erosion of his civil liberties. He has the right to oppose same-sex marriage, but he doesn’t have the right to be automatically re-elected if those who vote do not wish to vote for him. As for the case of Adrian Smith, the housing manager from Manchester, this indeed seems to be a case of wrongful dismissal for comments made in private – and he eventually had his dismissal overturned in court. It should never have happened in the first place, and his victory is a victory for free speech too. So, you have one example where no civil rights were affected, and another in which civil rights absolutely were, but that was eventually righted by legal action. Not great evidence for the widespread erosion of civil rights.

The final point about the “devastating impact” of legalising same-sex marriage is based on a report by Aidan O’Neill that shows how various scenarios would play out if same-sex marriage were legalised, generally showing that opponents would lack the “civil right” to break equality laws in the course of expressing their opinions in an official capacity. One need only appeal to interracial marriage to show that this is generally a reasonable outcome. If a racist teacher refused to endorse or teach about interracial marriage, they would be fired for contravening equality laws. If a racist church advertised that it would only perform marriage ceremonies for whites, they should expect to lose their right to use council-owned facilities for contravening equality laws. There is precisely no argument that can be used to oppose same-sex marriage that cannot, and has not, been used to oppose interracial marriage, and neither position deserves any more respect than the other. Verdict: STUPID CLAIMS BASED ON NO EVIDENCE.



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Lying for Traditional Marriage – Part 2

Reason 3: Equality already exists.

“Same-sex couples already have equality. All the legal rights of marriage are already available to same-sex couples through civil partnerships. Equality doesn’t mean bland uniformity or state-imposed sameness. If
the Government genuinely wants to pursue equality, why is it banning heterosexual couples from entering a civil partnership? Same-sex couples have equal rights through civil partnerships, but they don’t have the right to redefine marriage for everyone else.”

Can any two consenting adults get married? No? Then equality does not already exist, Q. E. D. Need I say more? If you insist. Same-sex civil partnerships, while they do offer the same legal advantages as a marriage, are not legally recognised as being married, meaning that there is a clear difference being drawn between couples of one variety and couples of another. Additionally, the Civil Partnership Act 2004 specifically states that a civil partnership cannot take place in a religious building, meaning that same-sex people who are religious are denied the same rights as their heterosexual counterparts. This difference being unjustly drawn is all the evidence needed to show that equality does not already exist. Imagine another minority group being subjected to the same treatment. Say, black people cannot get married, but are able to enter a civil partnership with their partner that has all of the same legal rights. Are you honestly going to argue that this is not a form of implicit and explicit discrimination?.

Admittedly, Scotland for Marriage do make a good point – why are civil partnerships not available to heterosexual couples? However, this does not help their point much, as the solution is simple; we either allow everyone to get married or enter a civil partnership, or we do away with civil partnership and let everyone get married who desires to. That’s what equality looks like. Point 3: YOU KEEP USING THAT WORD. I DON’T THINK IT MEANS WHAT YOU THINK IT MEANS.

Reason 4: Impact on schools.

Education guidance from the Scottish Government says schools should teach about the importance of marriage. If marriage is given a new definition, schools will be under huge pressure to teach about same-sex marriage. According to expert legal advice, any teacher who fails to endorse same-sex marriage in the classroom could be dismissed. Parents will have no legal right to withdraw their children from lessons which endorse same-sex marriage across the curriculum. Already supporters of gay marriage are recommending books for use in schools which undermine traditional marriage, and call on schools to get children to act out gay weddings. The effect on schools will be polarising and divisive.”

I’m certain that education guidance from the Scottish Government says that schools should teach about the importance of the origins of our universe – and if new evidence regarding this arises, schools will be under huge pressure to teach about this new information. This is what we in the real world call progress. You keep harping on about this new definition of marriage, when the actuality is that you are simply removing either the word “man” or “woman” and replacing it with “woman” or “man”. Some redefinition.

Should teachers have the right to teach whatever they want in their classes? Let’s take the example of creationism – should a biology teacher who teaches this demonstrably wrong and laughably ignorant view of life be allowed to keep their job? No, because they are failing to perform their job properly. In exactly the same way, a social education teacher should be obligated to teach an evidence-based curriculum, not a narrow and bigoted view of human relationships. I have never heard an argument against homosexuality that was evidence-based, and didn’t ultimately boil down to either religious dogma, or an infantile “ick” reaction.

I genuinely find it amusing that bringing about greater equality among people is feared by its opponents to cause “polarising and divisive” consequences. You are either doing precisely the opposite – breaking down barriers that separate people and allow the same rights and respect to all – or you are dividing people into those who are willing to accept and love their fellow humans as they are, and those who value their personal bigotry over the happiness of their fellows. And frankly, I’m both happy and proud to be divided from such people.

An aside: The previous point warned about the dangers of “bland uniformity” as a result of equality, and now about the horror of things being “polarising and divisive”. Mixed messages? Point 4: CLICHED “WON’T SOMEONE THINK OF THE CHILDREN” BULLSHIT.

Reason 5: Thin end of the wedge.

“If we redefine marriage once, what’s to stop marriage being redefined yet further? If marriage is solely about love and commitment between consenting adults, what’s to say we shouldn’t recognise three-way relationships? It’s already happened in nations that redefined marriage. In Brazil, a three-way relationship was given marriage-like recognition under civil partnership laws. A similar situation has existed in the Netherlands for several years. In Canada after marriage was redefined, a polygamist argued in court that his relationship should be recognised in law. When politicians meddle with marriage it all starts to unravel.”

A very good point – if marriage is solely about love and commitment between consenting adults, what’s to say we shouldn’t recognise three-way relationships? Really, the only problem with recognising polygamous marriages is the additional legal complication when more people are involved. But if two, or three, or ten consenting adults want to commit themselves to one another, who the hell am I to say that they can’t do it? This entire paragraphs seems to be panicking about exactly nothing, relying upon outdated notions of what is expected of people in order to stir up either disgust or disapproval. If people want to be with more than one partner, and everyone involved is cool with that, then any reason to ban or scorn such relationships has disappeared into snobbery and prejudice.

I will credit that this argument used by Scotland for Marriage has not devolved to the truly despicable level that this form of argument often takes – namely that, “If we legalise same-sex marriage, what’s to stop people from wanting to marry family/dogs/children?” The stupidity of that kind of argument should be obvious to anyone with a functional brain-stem, and I commend Scotland for Marriage for not stooping that low. Point 5: MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING.


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Lying for Traditional Marriage – Part 1

The rather inaccurately-named Scotland for Marriage organisation has on its website a manifesto claiming to sport 10 reasons that the legalisation of same-sex marriage would be disastrous to modern civilisation. However, I have reason to doubt that allowing people with matching junk to get married in a church will cause the horses to turn and begin eating each other, and so I wish to take a closer look at the bogus arguments offered for denial of civil rights to a sizeable minority of citizens.

Reason 1: It will undermine marriage.

“Evidence shows that redefining marriage actually undermines support for marriage in wider society. In Spain, after gay marriage was introduced, marriage rates across the whole population plummeted. In the Netherlands too there has been a significant fall in the marriage rate since marriage was redefined. Same-sex marriage does not promote marriage.”

Marriage Rates per 1,000 inhabitants

Country          1960     1970     1980     1990     2000     2009     2010     2011

Spain               7.8        7.3       5.9        5.7       5.4       3.8        3.6       3.4

Netherlands      7.7        9.5       6.4        6.5       5.5       4.4        4.5       4.3

U.K.                 7.5        8.5       7.4        6.6       5.2       4.3        4.5       …

France             7.0        7.8       6.2        5.1       5.0       3.9        3.9       3.7

Germany          9.5        7.4       6.3        6.5       5.1       4.6        4.7       4.6

Italy                 7.7        7.3       5.7        5.6       5.0       3.8        3.6       3.4

Same-sex marriage was legalised in Spain on 3 July 2005, and in the Netherlands on 1 April 2001, and indeed we find a drop in marriage rates in both of those countries ever since. However, same-sex marriage was emphatically not legalised in the U.K., France, Germany or Italy, and those countries have experienced a comparable rate of decrease in marriage rates over the same time. In fact, all of these countries have had a drop-off in marriages in recent decades, with nary a ring-bearing sodomite in sight. Scotland for Marriage, correlation is not causation. Support for equal marriage rights also correlates with increased life expectancy, but  I doubt you would recommend support for LGBTQ rights as an elixir of life. Point 1: UTTERLY DEBUNKED.

2. Marriage is part of our history.

“Marriage between a man and a woman is not a recent social invention. Everyone knows that marriage predates law, nation and church. It goes back to the dawn of time. Yes, matrimonial law may have been tweaked over the years, but the law has never fundamentally altered the essential nature of marriage: a lifelong commitment between one man and one woman. Same-sex marriage would rewrite hundreds of years of legal tradition and thousands of years of cultural heritage.”

This is an example of one of my most loathed kinds of argument in support of anything: It’s traditional, and therefore good. You know what, traditionally women were treated as the property of her father until she was married off, at which point she became the property of her husband. Their definition of marriage as “a lifelong commitment between one man and one woman” is historically inaccurate in many different ways, and the “tweaking” that the law has done has already rendered this definition utterly false. In the U.K., before Henry VIII, not even a king could divorce, but since 1973 (1976 in Scotland), divorce has been freely available to us peasants as well, provided that we tough it out for a year. So much for a “lifelong commitment”. Consistency demands that Scotland for Marriage must also campaign for the abolition of divorce laws too. As for “one man and one woman”, a rudimentary knowledge of history shows that this is absurd. Polygamy, usually polygyny, has been a fairly common form of marriage throughout history, whether in China, Greece, or among the Church of Latter Day Saints in 18th and 19th Centuries. For Christians who want to defend “traditional marriage”, please account for Abraham, Jacob and David in the Old Testament. The idea that marriage has been one thing for thousands of years is both parochial and inaccurate, and even if it were true offers no support for denying marriage rights to same-sex couples. Point 2 – INACCURATE AND IGNORANT.

TO BE CONTINUED – Just reading this stuff is starting to depress me. I need to do something more uplifting…


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