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Peter Tatchell: Facebook ruling is a ‘victory’ for free speech

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  1. “But would Adrian have won his case if marriage had already been redefined? I don’t think so.”

    Erm. Doesn’t the fact you WON suggest otherwise?!

    What a stupid thing to say.

    1. This is Mike Judge we’re talking about

  2. “The government should stop playing politics with marriage, because it’s ordinary people like Adrian who’ll get it in the neck.”

    So many things wrong with that sentence. What does he suggest the government spends their time on if they give up politics? I’m an ordinary person, just like Adrian. Why do his beliefs trump mine? (at least in Mr Judge’s opinion) Finally, he didn’t get it in the neck. He won. Imbecile.

  3. Pavlos Prince of Greece 16 Nov 2012, 3:05pm

    ‘Free speech’ against ‘freedom to marry’. Peter, where is the victory?

    1. barrygrant1980 16 Nov 2012, 3:19pm

      We all have to remember that Peter himself has said that he is not a Gay activist, he is an equal rights activist.

      An NO, I do not agree with him, just stating his position..

    2. Midnighter 16 Nov 2012, 3:43pm

      Without the freedom of speech we couldn’t fight for other freedoms, including our freedom to marry.

      This isn’t a ‘defeat’ for the cause of equal marriage, but it is a ‘win’ for everyone’s right to discuss it sensibly and fairly.

      The fact that this particular chap clearly didn’t understand the issue he was talking about in the first place illustrates just why the conversation shouldn’t be shut down for overly PC reasons – either he can be won over with rational response or be exposed as a foolish bigot.

      1. There spreads the voice of reason:- a commodity sadly lacking around these here parts…

    3. Well, doesn’t this attack bigotry in a more dignified way? The man who opposed gay marriage was defended by a gay man who supports gay marriage. I should imagine his head is all over the place now because of it. The biggest hurdle is the ‘them and us’ attitude many people have, once more people see we’re all just the same, then the bigotry begins to fade away. Better to keep free speech for all and allow peaceful protest, than to go to war with one another every time we disagree, don’t you think?

      1. Pavlos Prince of Greece 16 Nov 2012, 10:25pm

        For me value of ‘freedom to marry’ (gay marriage) is very logical continuity of value of ‘free speech’. How can reason ‘win’ against his consequence? Word ‘victory’ is impossible – and even ironic – here. Truth can not be more important than beauty, and vice versa. Hierarchy of values (approved by tradition and religion) all ways was and is essential cause of dictatorial structures, including dictatorship of homophobia. When value of ‘free speech’ is more important today than right to marry – who know, maybe tomorrow somebody will ‘win’ in the culture war ‘family values vs. gay rights’? And what, if it will be not we? (I suspect, possibility, that Pope or Ajatolah will help to keep homosexuality legal in very last district of Amsterdam, is very low indeed)

  4. The problem here is not marriage equality, it is the suppression of free speech.

    I agree with the defendant in so much as he should never have been demoted for expressing an opinion, we all have that right, I post anti-religious views on Facebook all the time, and would not wish to be punished for that.

    But I find it extremely distasteful that he now uses this as a battering ram against the rights of homosexuals, instead of a battering ram in support of free speech.

    Ultimately, redefining marriage will not lead to more cases like this, the flagrant abuse of the right to free speech will do that.

  5. Robert Brown 16 Nov 2012, 3:44pm

    So . . . would ‘free speech’ also include being called immoral, faggot, dyke, disease ridden, ‘going to hell’ and other words and phrases our community have been called in the past by haters?

    With ‘free speech’ comes responsibility . . . why is that never discussed openly?

    1. No, it shouldn’t include those things, but this guy didn’t say any of those things.

      Other than being colossally stupid (how can equality go too far? It’s only when it stops being equality that it has gone too far), his comments were merely blinkered and ignorant, not grossly offensive. We can’t start punishing people simply for being fools.

    2. If you can’t distinguish between someone you disagree with and someone who is offensive, you have a problem.

  6. Whatever, Tatchell. This was a a man responsible for offfering and prioritising certain people for housing. His employers were entitled to drop him if there was any evidence of strong propensity (and the evidence in this case, given his recent statements, is pretty strong).

    It’s for the same reason that people with fasicst affiliations are not allowed to seek employment in the Home Office. Of course the BNP don’t have the Christian Institute funnelling hoards of money into these cases.

    1. Was there any evidence then that he had acted unfavourably to gay people in his job? Because that would be a whole other court case wouldn’t it?

      Surely he has a right to air his views which weren’t abusive in a debate in his spare time.

  7. Kathryn Howie 16 Nov 2012, 3:57pm

    Although Adrian Smith has upheld freedom of speech for his interpretation of Christianity, and there are many others with a contrary view to him within his own religion, and so they too under this ruling have freedom of speech upheld, and should have been. His views were expressed moderately, without abusive language away from work, where he was required to keep discriminatory opinions to himself, so he was treated unfairly.

    However, freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom of expression and freedom of religious association and belief are all matters of conscious choice and capable of change, alteration or redirection with a single thought, whereas equality and non-discrimination on the grounds of ethnicity/race and sex/sexual orientation/ gender and other status of birth are not choices for the individual any more than the colour of their eyes or whether they write left or right handed, something the Christian Institute needs to come to terms with –

  8. Kathryn Howie 16 Nov 2012, 3:57pm

    – religious belief is NOT immutable or innate.
    Religious belief or interpretation of “sacred books”, however old they are, however deeply and sincerely you believe, should not be used to justify discrimination against other humans for their innate human characteristics.

    1. We are free to be wrong though, otherwise we would be banning religion.

      1. Kathryn Howie 17 Nov 2012, 10:58pm

        Isnt it strange how god always appears as a mirror image to the uber religiouist, with the exact same prejudices they seem to enjoy, got to be an explanation for that ……….. ;-/

  9. Jock S. Trap 16 Nov 2012, 3:58pm

    Ok fine but Mr. Smiths comments regarding Marriage Equality doesn’t sound like he is supportive to me.

    we’ve gone from his supporting Civil equal marriage to now how re-defining affects people like him. Has he been a lying Christian?

    1. Craig Nelson 16 Nov 2012, 4:09pm

      Most Christians are prepared to lie on this issue when it suits them (I should say I am a Christian who supports equal marriage but ‘thou shalt not bear false witness’ goes out of the window on this issue for the ant-gay Christians).

      After the Christian Institute has taken his case they have now ‘fed’ him his lines to say and he is saying them.

      The facebook comments however were what the case was about and they don’t even appear to be anti-marriage equality statements, however confused and ill-informed they were.

  10. Craig Nelson 16 Nov 2012, 4:03pm

    I of course support the ruling which is o nly sensible.

    Obe might question how this case was allowed to proceed as far as it did.

    Main point of note is that Christian Institute et al are running the story ike they lost it to score points about equal marriage.

    This ruling makes it very clear you can’t be disciplined for opposing equal marriage.

    1. It proceeded as far as it did because some idiot at Trafford Housing was obviously wrongly put in a position of authority and screwed up. Doing us no favours at all.

  11. Right, but can i just make a point? Its all well and good wanting free speech, but it’s not ok to campaign for free speech and then say ‘oh no, thats offensive, your not allowed to say your opinion.’ If this was a case of somone against homosexuality, then no one would be reacting this way, there’d be outrage. Dont get me wrong, i’m against homophobia, i’m a lesbian for god’s sake, i dont believe you should hate anyone for loving someone. But i think we need to realise, that if it’s said calmly by someone, who is just saying their opinion, then we dont have to agree, but we do have to respect their right to say it xx

  12. Errr? What? So it wasn’t Peter Tatchell demonstrating against Dr Robert Carey some years ago then?
    Would Peter like to apply to this man for a house for him and his partner?
    This was a silly remark.
    But of course it is manna from heaven for the Christian Institute who have probably prompted the bus driver protest over the Stonewall advert on the buses in the North East.
    The bigots need no encouragemant from Peter Tatchell.

    1. Buses with that advert pass my house every day, and have done for many weeks now. Haven’t heard or read any comments, pro or anti, so i think I agree with you, the CI acted as agents provocateurs.

  13. If this was the other way round I can’t think that the Christian Right would be half as accommodating. They would suppress anything that did not conform to their narrow views!

    1. Yes, and isn’t it good to be better than them?

      1. Exactly Doc, and we are better than them by not reacting and retaliating to their bait.

        So much common sense being espoused on this board:- had to check to see I was actually on PN!!!

    2. YesPiper, but didn’t anybody ever teach you that two wrongs don’t make a right?

  14. Well, even if the UK would already have had full marriage equality, the outcome of this court case should have been the same!!!
    No idea if his statement about this is fully as he said it, as somehow I do find it to have a very negative tone. But, from the initial information, even before I did read about Tatchell’s statement on it, I think Adrian Smith did have the full right to his idea and to voice it.
    So, I support the outcome in this.

    No, full (civil) marriage equality should be established shortly, and the religious institutions that want to support full marriage equality should be allowed to do so!!
    And indeed, those religious institutions who do not want to support it, should just do as they please within their own churches and houses and for the rest stay out of our lives with their bigoted ideas!

  15. In this instance I agree with the court’s decision. I find it frightening that a civil comment made in an on-line discussion, that does not directly affect his work, can be used against him.

    We do not accept it when the LGBT community suffers discrimination from their on-line profile. Why should it be the same in reverse?

    1. Robert Brown 16 Nov 2012, 8:11pm

      So would you say the same about council workers? registrars? those deciding where funding is directed to?


      If you posted that opposite race couples should not get ‘married’ (as was the norm when he was younger) would you allow that to pass? If so, many members of my extended family would not be allowed to get married in a church.

      1. If the people in question are applying discrimination at work then yes, deal with them appropriately.

        In this case he wasn’t, so it doesn’t apply.

        I fail to see why you bring a race issue into this discussion. But, as you ask, does it apply to his work? No? Therefore it doesn’t count.
        Racist, fascist, homophobic, anti-Christian – whatever bigotry you display online – your bosses do not have the right to demote you for despicable views unless they directly impact on your work.

      2. If you posted that opposite race couples should not get ‘married’ (as was the norm when he was younger) would you allow that to pass? If so, many members of my extended family would not be allowed to get married in a church.

        Actually, that’s not the case. Your family members would still be free to marry. One comment made online in a non-public arena does not affect national legislation or church policy. I’d find it offensive if someone were to make that comment, yes, and if someone who was one of my friends made that comment I may well end the friendship, but I wouldn’t be baying for them to lose their job over it. That’s Thought Police territory, and a very dangerous area for a country to move into.

  16. Paul Halsall 16 Nov 2012, 7:07pm

    I am so proud of Peter Tatchell for his principled stand on this issue.

    1. Craig Nelson 16 Nov 2012, 9:20pm

      I don’t always agree with Peter (even on free speech which he sometimes takes to extremes) but on this occasion I do. People have to be able to air their views outside of work online provided in a civil and respectful manner.

  17. Robert Brown 16 Nov 2012, 8:09pm

    If someone knows Peter . . . please ask him if this is a case of:

    “Free speech winning through . . . ”

  18. Glen Hague 16 Nov 2012, 8:48pm

    What I like about Peter Tatchell is that he has principles and he stands up for them even in a case like this. There are so many people on the right and the left who are ready to condone such reprehensible acts as the suppression of free speech if it serves their own cause. Peter will have none of this. If more politicians and other public figures were more like hom, the world would be a better place. Well done Peter!

  19. I also read elsewhere, “The judge said he had been told that there was no prospect that the trust might find a way to reinstate Mr Smith.”

    Well, it not all bad after all.

  20. Peter Tatchell 16 Nov 2012, 10:46pm

    Can we please remember that Adrian Smith OPPOSES same-sex religious marriage but SUPPORTS same-sex civil marriage. His view is the same as that of many equality and human rights campaigners. He’s not a nasty bigot. READ more here:

    1. As we all know, Peter, brandong someone a bigot is the liberal left’s cheap, cowardly way of trying to steer and control debate, but it clearly does not wash anymore so now can be seen for the desperate bleating and cheap ploy it really is.

  21. Well said Peter. Human rights is nothing without mutual toleration and free speech. Shrill Maoist style denunciations of those deemed out of step with our political objectives have no place in an open society.

    1. I don’t actually think that’s what happened here, personally I think this is a different issue about free speech to do with expressing opinions on the internet. He actually expressed his opinions on facebook and he was reported by a colleague so I’m assuming he had people from work added on there. Therefore he has made people he knows in a professional capacity aware of these opinions, opinions that could potentially alienate service users and colleagues (paticularly important as he was a manager).
      I agree that how the trust reacted was excessive but other people have been sacked etc for things they’ve said in public forums that employers don’t want to be associated with that have nothing to do with gay marriage etc. I just think people on both sides of the argument should be careful about intepreting this case as something is not.

  22. JP Haukkavaara 17 Nov 2012, 12:11am

    Well … we’ve been outcasts all our lives through how many centuries ? plugendened, murdered, outcast, dis-owned …
    and something as fundamental as being acknowledged as a human being having rights to the dignity of marrriage between two loving peoples … IS that REALLY so horrible… On the contrary here we’re celebrating monogomy, we’re Honouring the sactitiy mf marriage. Must be butterving for them that the lime light is being taken away … Love Is LOVE ..and as A Canadian I am afforded those same rights as any other heterosexual couple … that means we also have all the head aches that go along with it too .. lets also remember that ;)))
    Love and Light …

  23. John Allman 17 Nov 2012, 2:26am

    An important legal issue appears to have been settled in this case that has nothing to do with the Human Rights Act, the Christian religion, or homosexuality. I hope that, when I read the judgment, I will find that the case sets a precedent that would be equally useful to any of the following in the future: a homosexual victimised at work by a homophobic employer; a homophobic worker victimised by a pro-homosexual employer, a religious person victimised at work by an irreligious employer, an irreligious employee victimised by a religious employer, a left-winger victimised at work by a right wing employer, and a right wing employee victimised by a left wing employer.

    Coming at the end of disastrous week for freedom of thought and expression, what with We Are Norwich failing to support Norwich Reformed Church, and the English Defence League supporting them (!) on Saturday, and the events on Sunday that inspired my first poem for years, entitled “Burning The Poppy”, this is good news.

  24. Personal views are exactly and only that. Everyone should be able to express them. People who become violent when they do not like what they hear – they are the people who should be penalized.

    Equally good manners should cause people who know that their views inflame others should have the self control not to express them, particularly if they know that they will antagonize the hearers.

    Live and let live – opinions are not really going to change anything.

  25. Vindicated but ruined apparently.

    He also said, ‘Life is too short for bitterness and anger.’

    Maybe he should have thought like that before shooting his mouth off.

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