“Hallelujah!” squeals the Daily Mail on the news that Joe and Helen Roberts are to receive £10,000 compensation and costs after an 80 minute interview by police resulting from comments they made about gay rights and civil partnerships.
The couple who claim to be Christian told a council worker that they found the civil partnership literature displayed in public libraries in Lancashire “discriminativly offensive [sic].” When the council official refused to allow them to display Christian leaflets opposing the views expressed within the official information, Mr Roberts asked if he was gay. The official refused to answer the question.
The couple were later questioned by police and with the help of a Christian action group, the Christian Institute began legal actionagainst the police. The Roberts proudly spoke to to Peter Sissons of BBC News yesterday welcoming. The compensation and costs have all been donated back to the Christian Institute.
The Daily Mail welcomed the news as a victory for “common sense” but it is nothing of the kind. Mr and Mrs Roberts are of course entitled to their religious beliefs but are complexly misguided in the role they play in a modern, liberal democracy.
Mrs Roberts told the BBC: “democracy has got to be democracy, there’s got to be freedom of speech.” The democratically elected House of Commons (with support not just from the government but also the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and other opposition parties) introduced the Civil Partnership Act.
If she believes in democracy, then Mrs Roberts must accept the will of our democratically elected representatives. Indeed the couple’s own Labour MP, Joan Humble has voted strongly for gay rights and in particular supported the introduction of Civil Partnerships.
Why should they as Christians feel the right to tell members of the LGBT community that their way of life is wrong, that is offensive to God?
We do not chose our sexuality, we are born with it or develop it through no concious decisions of our own. They have chosen to live as practising Christians, and to be members of the Christian communion.
They would probably find it offensive if I told that them that their religion is wrong and sinful in the eyes of God but I could.
Say I was Jewish? Should I have the right to say that their adoption of Jesus as the physical son of God, God incarnate and saviour of humanity is heretical and an offensive to God?
As a Muslim I could say that by clinging onto the outdated prophecies of Jesus ignores the message of God’s final prophet, Muhammed and therefore is a rejection of God.
What if I phoned them up and asked them if they were Christians and told them that I found their views “discriminativly offensive [sic]” (of course with a better grasp of English)? I’m sure they wouldn’t like that.
It’s about time that we as a nation got a grip and once and for all decide if we wish to be a tolerant, liberal democracy or continue to allow newspapers like the Daily Mail and its readers to drag us back to a pre-enlightened state.
Tolerance doesn’t mean people like Mr and Mrs Roberts loving gays or even thinking that we have a right to act according to our nature. What it does demand is that any negative feelings they have for us are kept to themselves.
Let bigots (not necessarily them) hate us in the privacy of their own homes but please let us not allow them to pollute our libraries, newspapers and airwaves with their hatred and theological misconceptions any longer.
The author of this article is a prominent writer and broadcaster but wishes to remain anonymous. The views expressed are not necessarily those of PinkNews.co.uk.