Human rights activists have urged the Metropolitan Police Commissioner to drop a faith crime investigation regarding the Gay Police Association (GPA).
Outrage! and the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association (GALHA) have each sent a letter to Sir Ian Blair in support of the GPA after Scotland Yard began an investigation last month following complaints regarding an advert in the Independent coinciding with last month’s EuroPride event.
The advert showed a Bible next to a pool of blood, with the words, “In the last 12 months, the GPA has recorded a 74% increase in homophobic incidents, where the sole or primary motivating factor was the religious belief of the perpetrator.”
GALHA’s George Broadhead has written to the Commissioner alleging that “most of these complaints are not expressions of spontaneous outrage, but solicited and contrived.”
“We feel very strongly that there is an attempt by these activists to manipulate the police into recommending a prosecution so as to create a precedent that will discourage other people from being critical of religion.”
They went on to say that they “wish to support the Gay Police Association’s right to make the point they did about the involvement of religion in the persecution of gay people.”
Outrage’s letter said: “(We are) not at all surprised that the clerics and their religious supporters immediately tried to deny to the GPA the freedom of speech that they so vociferously demand for themselves.”
Outrage go on to tell Sir Ian that they “are very disturbed by the rising levels of abuse, threats and violence inflicted on the lesbian and gay community by people of faith.
Both groups have asked the Met to drop the investigation into the advert.
Objections were made by Christian groups that the advert attacked their religious freedoms. Due to the complaint, made by a member of the public, Scotland Yard has been forced to investigate if the GPA have committed a criminal offence.
Since the advert appeared apparently 45,000 such complaints have been received, though both GALHA and Outrage! claim that these complaints have been made after being told of the advert, not through reading it.
When the advert was released it received support from groups such as Outrage!, GALHA and Stonewall for highlighting the increase in homophobic attacks motivated by religious belief.
Mr Broadhead wrote a letter to the GPA backing their stance, saying: “It is outrageous that Christians should suggest that complaints about their homophobia amount to an attack on their ‘religious freedom’.”
“It increasingly appears that ‘religious freedom’ amounts to a freedom to attack and insult gay people.”