Did any of you, when you read or heard UKIP councillor David Silvester’s claim that the recent floods were due to the government’s decision to legalise gay marriage, wonder, as I did, if it was a hoax? Surely no one could be that stupid. Oh yes they can. And people voted for this man. So help us. We can laugh at how ridiculous Silvester is here, but in some countries he could be much more dangerous.
For alas, he is not alone in his nonsensical thinking. And some of these nonsense thinkers wield an unhealthy amount of power.
Joan Smith wrote a cracker of a piece in the Independent on Sunday asking why Vladimir Putin gets so hot and bothered about homosexuality.
Nigeria has just joined thirty-seven other African countries in passing a bill allowing the state to persecute gay people and witch hunts have begun.
Yet, in my in lifetime, I have seen much greater acceptance of people’s sexuality. I attended an all girls’s secondary school. When I first heard the word lesbian, I didn’t know what it was, but I knew it wasn’t something to aspire to. It was a small school, around 450 girls. Some of them must have been gay, surely. But if they were, they definitely weren’t out. Maybe Sandi Toksvig, who attended a school in the same town, was bolder and her sexual orientation was a commonly accepted fact in the sixth form common room, but somehow I doubt it. Now she celebrates her lesbianism in her numerous appearances on tv and radio and no one I know bats an eye.
We are starting to see more and more out gay men and women in public life. It’s helpful I think, and makes it clear that an interest in cushions is not necessarily an indicator of sexual orientation.
There was the shameful and ridiculous time under Margaret Thatcher when Section 28 was introduced which banned schools from ‘promoting homosexuality’. I am not sure how that would work. BOGOF perhaps. They seemed to think that a person could be influenced or persuaded to become gay. I have a number of gay friends, socialising with them has not altered my heterosexuality one jot. Mind you, I have been supposed to be lesbian on the grounds that I am fairly independent. As a condemnation of heterosexual women’s behaviours you couldn’t get much better.
There is something in human make up that likes to pounce on and persecute anyone who seems different. Different can come to mean lesser. That rule applies to race, to sexuality, to gender, to class, to nationality and to income. There is a group of aristocratic girls who call them selves Hares who are campaigning to end the rule of primogeniture and create equality in the peerage. I didn’t intend to write any of this tonight. But the tale of my labyrinthitis will have to wait. It was the piece on the news about Davos showing well off people drinking champagne and nibbling canapés discussing how to solve the world’s problems that set me off on quite a different train of thought.