If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Taking Sides 2

Further to my earlier post concerning the anti-gay posters in Tower Hamlets -

It's not often I find myself agreeing with Johann Hari, but he has a piece here which talks some sense about the 'tolerance' we are expected to show to the mediaeval beliefs of certain religious groups:
Here’s a few portents from the East End that we have chosen to ignore. In May 2008, a 15 year old Muslim girl tells her teacher she thinks she might be gay, and the Muslim teacher in a state-funded comprehensive tells her “there are no gays round here” and she will “burn in hell” if she ever acts on it. (I know because she emailed me, suicidal and begging for help). In September 2008, a young gay man called Oliver Hemsley, is walking home from the gay pub the George and Dragon when a gang of young Muslims stabs him eight times, in the back, in the lungs, and in his spinal column. In January 2010, when the thug who did it is convicted, a gang of thirty Muslims storms the George and Dragon in revenge and violently attacks everybody there. All through, it was normal to see young men handing out leaflets outside the Whitechapel Ideas Store saying gays are “evil.” Most people accept them politely.
These are not isolated incidents. East London has seen the highest increase in homophobic attacks anywhere in Britain. Everybody knows why, and nobody wants to say it. It is because East London has the highest Muslim population in Britain, and we have allowed a fanatically intolerant attitude towards gay people to incubate there, in the name of “tolerance”. The most detailed opinion survey of British Muslims was carried out by Gallup, who correctly predicted the result of the last general election. In their extensive polling, they found literally no British Muslims who would say homosexuality is “morally acceptable.” Every one of the Muslims they polled objected to it. Even more worryingly, younger Muslims had more stridently anti-gay views than older Muslims. These attitudes have consequences – and they are worst of all for gay Muslims, who have to live a sham half-life of lies, or be shunned by their families.

No, Muslims are not the only homophobes among us. But the gap between them and the rest is startling. It’s zero percent of British Muslims vs. 58 percent of other Brits who say we are “acceptable.”
He loses me later on when he talks about making it a "legal requirement, tightly policed" for schools to teach certain attitudes to homosexuality. I'm none too comfortable with the idea of forcing specific views on anyone, expecially children, but when he says
No school should be a “faith school”, inspired by medieval holy books that demand death for gay people
I can't disagree.


  1. First, let me just say that I agree wholeheartedly with the general thrust of your and Hari's comments on this subject. This is real homophobia, is unacceptable, and should be stamped out.

    I'm just going to pick up on the poll, though. This seems nitpicking, but it isn't. We are told that no Muslims agreed that homosexuality is "morally acceptable"; we are invited to conclude that this is reprehensible. Of course they did not; the teaching of their religion is that it is not morally acceptable. To hold that view is not to be intolerant. Intolerance is to insist that others must hold the same views as yourself. Their intolerance lies in attacking gays because they are gay. A tolerant approach would be to believe it was wrong, but accept that others disagree with you. If that means they will (in your view) burn in hell, then so be it; that is their choice, it is for Allah to burn them and not for you to get started for Him.

    Hari and his ilk, however, believe that people are incapable of being tolerant of something they disagree with (which, as an aside, probably tells us more about the left than it does about human nature). Therefore, they assume, to have different beliefs is itself an inevitable first step toward intolerant and offensive behaviour.

    That, ironically, I find to be the height of intolerance.

  2. Not all Muslims are anti-gay.........



  3. You make a good point, Mr Patently. The whole point of tolerance is that we tolerate that with which we disagree; other wise it would not be tolerance. I would be the first to say that one should be able to think whatever one wishes - it's only when the thoughts turn to action that hurts people that we should be concerned.

    Perhaps I was so surprised at reading this kind of comment from someone on the Left that my bullshit filters were temporarily disabled. I have since done a bit of reading round, and apparently Mr Hari is well known for his dislike of Islamic attitudes to homosexuality, so perhaps I ought to get out more.

  4. Joe, I remember that story. It seems that there is a common element in relationships (gay ior straight) from this culture, all to do with dominance and subservience, and all expressed in violence.


  5. "The whole point of tolerance is that we tolerate that with which we disagree; other wise it would not be tolerance."

    That was the old definition of tolerance. Now, if you are not openly supporting of a certain lifestyle, and if you don't celebrate it, you are regarded as 'intolerant'.

  6. XX East London has seen the highest increase in homophobic attacks anywhere in Britain. Everybody knows why, and nobody wants to say it. It is because East London has the highest Muslim population in Britain,XX

    Take out the word "Homophobic" and add "Anti-semetic" and you have exactly the same situation all over Europe.

    We have a rabid dog in our midst, and we ALL know the best way to deal with a rabid dog.....

  7. Quite agree about faith schools.

    What's this though?

    'That was the old definition of tolerance. Now, if you are not openly supporting of a certain lifestyle, and if you don't celebrate it, you are regarded as 'intolerant''

    That change seems to have passed me by. OK, honestly intended invitation coming up - always willing to learn: I don't openly support anything much, not even a football or any other team and nobody has told me I'm intolerant because of it. Presumably others have different experiences. Tell me about them.

  8. Hi Richard - thank you for replying to me on the previous post of Taking Sides and making me feel welcome to participate. I'd only come back on one point: the firefighters issue was in Glasgow, and those who refused to hand out leaflets were Roman Catholic fire officers. I can see both sides of the issue on this, but it did make me wonder if they would ask someone about their sexuality before rescuing them from a fire... (I'm assuming not). Anyway, they were given a brief suspension and sent on Equality Training. The issue seems not to have arisen since then.

    On this post, one wonders if Gallup spoke to these people:

    or these:

    Both websites are old - one wonders if they are still going or have failed due to a lack of need?

    Meanwhile, there is a storm a-brewing:





    I think that while many people believe that gay people these days have it easy, those of us of the older generation who came out in the 60s and 70s remember all too clearly the bad old days and have no intention of returning to them. When we see the old bullies being replaced by newer younger bullies, we get nervous and sometimes a little stroppy (maybe inappropriately, but hey, can you ever protect yourself too much?).

    Best wishes,


  9. Faith schools bother me a lot. I don't think they should receive funding from my taxes. They are apparently successful, but that could simply be because they inherently cherry-pick the obedient ones? Faith should never be funded by the state. It shouldn't need it, either.

  10. Windsock,
    I remember the intolerance of the 60's and 70's. It makes me ashamed. I don't have a problem with gays being so militant as a backlash.

    And to those who say, "Okay, but I wish they'd just shut up about it", I'd point out that heterosexuality is brandished and flaunted everywhere. I'm not complaining about either. Life is exuberant.

  11. Zaphod: Thanks. The more exuberance in the world, the better, I say.

  12. Jim Baxter's right and I would add that fair criticism of extremist elements by non-believers is falsely expanded to criticism of all by many in the "faith community" as a means of defence by overlapping shields: break the line and all are at risk. It's sad that the very people who assert they are best equipped to distinguish good and bad are selectively blind to faults within their joint memberships but needle-sharp when attacking secular society.

  13. Clearly, it's an emotive subject, but one which @Patently seems to have nailed perfectly from the off. Tolerance and equality are not about being "pro-", or indeed "anti-": they are about acceptance of difference and allowing people to have their own set of beliefs. It is not necessary to agree with them, nor to force them to agree with you.

    Of course there is nothing wrong with enforcing the consensus that encouraging hatred, publishing offensive material and advocating violence is wrong and illegal regardless of who it is aimed at. That does not have to predicated on being pro-gay, any more than it has to be anti-Islam: in fact, it is probably better if it is neither and simply based on what is an acceptable standard of behaviour within society as a whole.


    No wish to insult you, but I think your comments are pretty much illustrating my point from the previous post. Your perspective comes across as being framed entirely through definition of people by sexuality, even when it is entirely irrelevant. For example, rescuing people from fires is a gender-neutral and sexually-independent task in a way that distributing pro-gay leaflets is not.

    You wanted equality and, in legislation at least, now have it. Surveys consistently show that the vast majority of UK citizens are now quite accepting of gay rights and - more to the point - gay people. Yes, it was an unnecessarily hard-fought struggle and, yes, it was ugly on both sides of the fence, but it seems, largely, to be won. At what point, then, will you feel it appropriate to leave behind the use of "gay" as a qualifier and argue simply on the basis of being a person like any other?

    Equality is a two-way street: it requires both sides to accept that they are now all part of "us".


    I remember intolerance in the 80s and 90s. It wasn't mine, and therefore I don't have any shame about it. Nor does it justify a blanket militancy against those who were not part of it.

    I think you might find that it is sexuality which is flaunted - or at least commercialised - everywhere. Not explicitly of the hetero- variety, but implicitly you might expect it to be in representative proportion to the population demographic it targets.

  14. endemoniada_88: I'm not insulted by what you write, but I believe you have misunderstood me. From my post on the previous "Taking Sides", I made it clear that I had been physically attacked because I had been PERCEiVED to be gay. I was alone, not kissing or holding hands or doing anything obviously "gay". So my point to you is that it is not my perspective that is "framed entirely through definition of people by sexuality, even when it is entirely irrelevant"; rather it is true of people making judgements about me.

    The leaflets by the way were not pro-gay. They were fire brigade information leaflets being distributed at a gay pride event.

    You ask: "At what point, then, will you feel it appropriate to leave behind the use of "gay" as a qualifier and argue simply on the basis of being a person like any other?" That point arrived many years ago, when I stopped being a member of gay equality pressure groups and started to volunteer for groups in the wider community, precisely because I felt the need to get out of the gay ghetto. So now I volunteer around mental health issues, offenders newly released from jail and children in care.

    But none of that matters to some people. For them I will always be the "odd queer". Doesn't bother me exactly, but as I said before, it makes me vigilant about those long fought-for equalities being taken away .

    Best wishes


  15. endemoniada_88,
    It wasn't my intolerance either, not actively, but I observed it and didn't stand against it. Did you?

    "Of course there is nothing wrong with enforcing the consensus that ... publishing offensive material ... is wrong."
    I disagree. I hold and publish many views which some find offensive. Perhaps you do too. Progress cannot happen without causing offence.

    Please continue to express your views. I can handle being offended.

  16. On the 'neutrality = intolerance' issue, I am reminded of a chap I used to know at Uni, who was very involved in the nascent environmental movement (regular commenter Derf will remember him well) and whom we called 'Ecofreak'. Ecofreak had a saying that he used in every possible circumstance: "if you're not part of the solution, then you're part of the problem'.

    It's a mantra that has since been used by all manner of interest groups, from climate change activists to anti-racists, effectively saying if you are not with us, you are against us. I think Jim @10:19 is being a little disingenuous when he says that he does not support a football team and has yet to be called intolerant as a consequence. There are places (example: equality and diversity training in the workplace) where there are right and wrong answers, and 'I am neutral on this issue' is not likely to be the right answer.

  17. @Zaphod
    I guess it depends on how you define "stand against". I've always tried to take people on merit, outside of group identities, and to challenge prejudice or intolerance when I encounter it. I've never tried to do so by formally declaring support for any particular group. And, of course, being human, I have occasionally fallen short on either or both.

    Speaking of which - "offensive" was the wrong word. Sorry. I meant it in the context of committing a criminal offence and should have used "unlawful" instead.

  18. endemoniada,
    Fair enough.
    I could still quibble about whether
    "... publishing unlawful material ... is wrong and illegal", (is it always wrong?), but I'm starting to sound tedious; so I'm not gonna mention it. :-)

  19. @Zaphod
    Then I won't answer that it isn't necessarily wrong...

    There's always the possibility that the law is wrong, unfair, unjust or being enforced against the public interest and that the material itself is therefore unreasonably criminalised. Just for one example.

    My reference to unlawful publication here is specifically in relation to using it to pursue a campaign of discriminatory hate crime and probably shouldn't be construed as extrapolating into a wider debate on the pros and cons of free speech...!

  20. endemoniada_88: "Your perspective comes across as being framed entirely through definition of people by sexuality" I don't feel insulted by you saying that but you have it completely the wrong way around. When I was physically attacked it was because I was PERCEIVED to be gay (shouting "you fucking queer" at me while booting me in the face was the giveaway). I was on my own, not kissing a man, not holding hands. The point is, other people's opinion of me"comes across as being framed entirely through definition of people by sexuality". What am I expected to do except to campaign to make this behaviour unacceptable? And that campaign has not succeeded yet. Ask Ian Baynham.

    "Equality is a two-way street: it requires both sides to accept that they are now all part of "us". Well, obviously. I volunteer for groups that have no connection with gay issues (children in care, prisoner release and mental health) because I see myself as part of a wider, varied, diverse and wonderfully confusing community.

    But to many, I am just the odd, old queer.

  21. I am not a great reader of holy books but, from such reading and research that I have done, I have not found any evidence to support the statement "inspired by medieval holy books that demand death for gay people". I suspect, as usual, it is intolerant/bad/frightened people who have chosen to mis-interpret the holy book of choice to support their hatred/abuse/violence of a minority. If we took their holy books away they would justify their stance on the grounds of 'health and safety', 'the EU' or 'child safety'. Where there's a will, there's a way.


  22. Taking the Bible as an example, there are prohibitions against homosexuality in Leviticus, Corinthians, Romans to pick out the most famous. However, the exact meaning of these are often disputed by theologians and there are contradictions, as one would expect from an originally oral, multi-authored over a long period, committee-approved, collection of books. Even the relationship of David and Jonathan can be viewed as akin to Holmes and Watson or Julian and Sandy depending on one's opinions. Perhaps the Golden Rule is the ultimate guide to interpretation as it is pretty universal religious/philosophical concept.

  23. @Zaphod, faith schools as far as I know (I'm a governor in a catholic one) are not allowed to cherry pick outside of pupils being catholic, and even that is not that strict either (which explains the peaks and throughs of attendance at mass depending on application dates...).

    The fact is that there is an ethos which makes those schools generally better ones (and there is no gay, or anybody else for that matter, bashing in the curriculum, indeed the general message at mass is love one another).

    As it happens, and maybe surprisingly, I do agree in principle that it should not be funded by taxes because it requires the catholic thing. In reality, it is a tad more complicated than that.

  24. Richard,

    Nobody has ever asked me. If they were to ask me I would answer that on some issues I am not a campaigner and shall not become one - my views tend to the libertarian and those include the self-accorded right (because I accept no 'rights' from anyone) to have no views on whichever matters I have no views upon.

    People who use violence on other people except clearly in their own physical defence are criminal. We have laws to deal with those who commit violence and those must be enforced. That's it.

    Now, what's disingenuous about that?

  25. @monoi,
    You've got me cornered here. I do know that faith schools are successful.
    Successful education is important.
    I don't like the idea of faith schools.
    Where do I go from here?
    I can vaguely rationalise it to myself, but my leaky arguments would not withstand scrutiny.
    But anyway, you smell! Ner ner.
    I win!

  26. @Windsock

    I'm glad that you're not offended, hopefully that will continue to be the case...!

    It wasn't the reason for adopting sexuality as a frame of reference that I was questioning, though, but the value of using it at all.

    To take your specific example: what happened to you is already unacceptable, illegal and abhorrent to the vast majority of people. That would still be the case whether you were assaulted for being black, female, ginger, asking someone not to vandalise your car or simply minding your own business. In my thankfully fairly limited and historical experience, the sort of people who would happily kick your face in will do so for any number of reasons and pick what they think are suitable (not necessarily accurate) epithets for the occasion just to add the necessary insult to injury.

    These are not people you can convince with a well-reasoned argument, or coerce with the threat of the law, and any campaign that continues until their attitudes change is going to be an awfully long one.

    If there was no downside to that, and people wanted to put the effort into attempts to change one particular facet of those attitudes, that would be fine. Unfortunately, that isn't really the case, because any such campaigns by special interest identity groups do not only reach the people whose attitudes need changing. They reach everyone, including the majority who need no further education in leaving blind prejudice behind. They mistarget other special interest groups with differing but arguably equally valid views, and give polarised - often counterproductive - results, such as with the Christian B&B couple, or Catholic adoption agencies. And most of all, because of the anti-discrimation, anti-hate legislation that now exists on top of the protections under law offered to everyone outside that particular identity group, they do tend to come across as strident demands for additional special treatment.

    A straw poll here and on various other media outlets shows an awfully large swell of condemnation against the Tower Hamlets hate campaign and almost no support for it whatsoever. As a yardstick (albeit one no doubt partly influenced by anti-Islamic sentiment), does that not imply society at large has reached acceptance and inclusion of gays?

    If so, then surely it follows that this is the point of equality and there is no need to maintain a separate gay rights movement. And if not, when does that point come? What further steps, realistically, do you think a specifically "gay" identity campaign can deliver?

  27. 2 endemoniada_88: "...it follows that this is the point of equality and there is no need to maintain a separate gay rights movement. And if not, when does that point come?"

    When there are no posters put up anywhere in the country declaring it a gay free zone? When people are no longer attacked because someone else decides they are gay?

    I think there will always be an experience barrier here: gay people have lived mainly as outsiders historically, and it is only in the last 15-20 years, since the recognition of the "pink pound", that we have started to become insiders (economics trumps everything, doesn't it?). We are still in a period of transition and we have watched the pendulum of public opinion begin to swing in our favour. I suppose we are fearful that it will swing back away from us - as pendulums inevitably do.

  28. "I suppose we are fearful that it will swing back away from us - as pendulums inevitably do."

    That is, I think, unnecessarily pessimistic. We burned witches in the C17, and that died out as people understood things better. That wasn't a pendulum that swung back. I'm sure there will be an irreducible minimum of a few percent who will always be anti-gay (and racist and so on) but the vast majority are now accepting - and genuinely accepting - of things which a generation ago seemed set in stone. There's hope yet.

  29. @Windsock

    Thanks for the interesting discussion.

    I agree with Richard here - I don't think this is going to backswing of it's own accord, nor will it be pulled away from you by people trying to preach a resurgence of hatred.

    But I do think it is possible you could push it away from you, and lose some of what you have gained.

    We all live with a certain risk of being abused or assaulted for what we are, or what we are perceived to be. Or for nothing to do with us, but because some other person has decided they want to kick off and we just happen to be the nearest target. That is just a sad fact of life. You cannot make that risk vanish for any part of the demographic, no matter how long and hard you campaign - the best you can ever hope for is parity with the rest of us.

    In other words, you will probably have to accept that a certain number of gay people will continue to be abused or assaulted. As long as it is broadly equivalent to the level of violence directed against anyone else - that is equality. The way to stop it is for society as a whole to somehow bring levels of violence down, not for parts of society to campaign for a better outcome just for those they consider to be their own.

    The truth is that we all have experience barriers, too. They may not be as clear cut as yours, or have an associated identity, but they are just as real. In some ways that lack of distinction probably makes it easier to see that - however much they may matter to one personally, however much they may provoke a good or bad response from some people - to the vast majority they are irrelevant and quite possibly invisible.

    That is my view on people's sexuality - I genuinely do not care what it may be. You are welcome to my unqualified acceptance: it is the best I have to offer. Asking for more than that is disrespectful of what is already a freely-given tolerance. And that is where identity groups run the risk of perpetuating their own alienation, when they fail to see that many others outside that identity do not - and do not need to - attach the same level of importance to it.

    In the previous post on this subject, you welcomed opposition to the Tower Hamlets campaign as choosing to stand with gay people. I genuinely think that is now the wrong perspective. We, as ordinary people, as the majority, as part of no other group than mainstream society, oppose that campaign and you can - finally - choose to stand with us under the same banner, without any need to reference your sexuality in doing so.

    That's my definition of equality - is it anywhere near yours?

  30. 2 comments from Endo and Windsock released from spamtrappery. Sorry folks.

  31. Jim Baxter: "Now, what's disingenuous about that?"

    Nothing, but you have moved the goalposts and that's not what I was referring to. I wrote that failing to 'support' (i.e. publicly declare approval of) certain lifestyle issues was now regarded as 'intolerance' in some quarters. You claimed that you did not support a football team, but no-one had called you intolerant as a result. That's what I thought was a little disingenuous.

    On reflection, though, you could be right. If you are surrounded by a pack of drunken men wearing red shirts in the middle of Manchester and they ask you what team you support, then any answer other than 'United' is going to be the wrong one, and evidence of loyalty to the 'enemy'. If this hasn't happened to you, you can fairly claim that your neutrality has been unchallenged.

  32. endemoniada_88: Thanks for engaging with me on this.

    I don't want to drag out the conversation beyond its usefulness but there are a couple of points I'd like to come back on. You say: "I do think it is possible you could push it away from you, and lose some of what you have gained." That argument makes me feel uneasy. Are you saying that gay people can always depend upon those around us to protect our rights? I don't believe it yet (let's wait 100 years to see if this new found tolerance beds in) - when societies face problems, it is always the minorities that become targets for people's anger - whether they are Jews, gypsies or gays. It is almost saying: Don't get uppity, don't test our patience, know your place. Surely that is wrong for any group? You are almost laying the groundwork to say if things go wrong in the future - don't come to us, it's your own fault. (I know you haven't said these things, but I extrapolate these as logical from the train of conversation.)

    You said: "... genuinely think that is now the wrong perspective. We, as ordinary people, as the majority, as part of no other group than mainstream society, oppose that campaign and you can - finally - choose to stand with us under the same banner, without any need to reference your sexuality in doing so".

    I don't understand your point here. What's is wrong with showing that straight people are choosing to ally themselves with gays, because in this instance it is the right thing to do because it is about building an inclusive society? Why should not gay people be able to say: We will not be bullied into staying away from certain areas and look, we have straight/asexual/celibate/Christian/Jewish/Moslem/black/white/men/women standing alongside us in solidarity? If the point is that being gay is accepted/tolerated, why can't it be identified? Or do we have to be love that has to shut its trap?

    Finally, you ask: "That's my definition of equality - is it anywhere near yours?"

    My definition of equality is being able to recognise the common ground you have with other people while respecting, acknowledging and being freely able to discuss your differences. We are all different, whether as individuals or as groups with which we identify (whether that's gay or straight, ravers or hockey players, readers or cobblers). Half the fun of any conversation is working out where your common ground and differences lie. Being able to accept and explore them without fear or favour is my idea of a society in which equality is obviously entrenched.

    All the best,


  33. @Windsock

    Agreed - but I will try to briefly address your points. If you feel that's pretty much the end of the conversation, then that's fine!

    1. Not at all. I'm just saying it's easy for an identity group to tip from what is generally viewed as a fair campaign (equality) into what appears to be special pleading (positive discrimination), at which point it starts to lose approval.

    It's all about knowing when to stop presenting a separate and distinct group, with a set of rights that are somehow identifiable as being different to other people's. I see the opposite as being a necessary step for equality: individuals, of whatever sexuality, must share the same rights. So, yes, I think gay people can - and will have to - depend on others to protect their rights, because they are the same thing. To do otherwise is to remain in a self-imposed minority group.

    The gay lobby may not think we are at that point of acceptance yet - and perhaps we aren't - but it certainly seems pretty close to me.

    2. Similarly to the above. If you view it as people allying themselves with gays, then that is still a form of discrimination. It implies that non-gays see this campaign as being directed at gay people, that gay people are still a separate minority which we are, in some situations, prepared to stand up for.

    I think it is much more than that. I think it is the start of saying that this campaign is rejected by all of society, because it is directed against a society that includes and accepts gay people. And in terms of equality, that is a far better result for gay and straight people alike. Or, if you prefer, just "people".

    3. Absolutely. I hadn't seen your original post on the 27th (guess that was one that got caught in the spamtraps), otherwise I'd have realised earlier that you weren't debating from quite a polarised stance as it appeared. You obviously recognise the risks of the ghetto mentality - and respect for choosing to leave it behind - and some of what I have said is far more questioning of that mentality than your own. Nothing I have said or, I hope, have implied should suggest that I think a person's individual sexuality should not be identified - just that I consider it no more significant or defining of them than their taste in music, choice of transport or the colour of their eyes.

    All the best to you, too.

  34. I have pretty much stepped back out of this discussion because I didn't feel I could usefully add anything to what was being said by others. But thank you all for keeping it intelligent and even-tempered. It's been a pleasure to follow it.

    If it ends here (it feels it might, but ICBW), then keep an eye on us, Windsock. Whatever the topic, you'll be welcome back. I have to warn you that we are not always this serious, though.

  35. I never done hunting, fishing or shooting, and I don't eat meat; but I'll actively criticise attempts to ban or restrict them. I don't turn up for rallies or protests, but I do engage with anyone who speaks on those subjects, among others.

    But, to be fair, there are subjects about which I don't know (or care?) enough to comment much. I think passive tolerance has to be acceptable on some subjects.

    One can stand up for one's own issues, and should, some of those of others. But not all, surely?

    Peace. :-)

  36. I think passive tolerance is all that can reasonably be demanded from one's fellow humans. But some attacks on liberty require that we should stand together. I have never hunted foxes, but I attended the Countryside March in 2002 because I objected strongly to people from the city imposing their beliefs on something they knew nothing about. It's a very profound principle - live your life the way you wish, but don't tell me how to live mine.

    The question is, does one regard gay rights in this way? I would come out and protest against something specific like these anti-gay posters, but I would probably not attend a Gay Pride march, if that makes sense. One is an attack on the tolerant society that I want to live in, and the other is a specific event which I do not feel part of. The trouble is that to some (some) of the gay lobby, saying you wouldn't attend a Gay Pride march is equivalent to homophobia, which it isn't.


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