Lynette Burrows, a writer and “family rights” activist, made a heated speech at the Oxford Union debate on the 18th of January, opposing the motion “this house would be happy to have gay parents”.
Mrs Burrows spoke out against the “wicked” motion, equating it to experimentation on children, before asking the Union, “Would you be without [your mother], even if she’s a slut?”
Mrs Burrows made headlines in 2011 by likening sex education teachers to paedophiles, saying “anyone who wants to talk dirty to little children is a danger to them” in a BBC debate.
She received a police caution in 2005 after commenting on a Radio 5 show that allowing gay men to adopt boys was an “risk”.
The motion had previously been argued for by Right Said Fred frontman Richard Fairbrass, gay rights campaigner Phyll Opaku-Gyimah, and Pink News founder Benjamin Cohen, who made a speech about his desire to one day become a father.
Mrs Burrows’ full speech ran as follows:
I am in the unenviable position of not agreeing with either side. I find the argument of the proposers frivolous and sentimental – I can’t believe how sentimental some of the arguments are, “all you need is love”, for god’s sake. I can’t agree with all the arguments on this side [against the proposition] which torturously pursue the blindingly obvious.
Why do we have families? Because they are nature. Because they grow. Because a man and a woman make a child together and, I don’t know why, that turns out to be important. If a child knows it’s important right from the very earliest, you don’t need to be academic counting up all the number of papers written on it.
In general it’s natural, it’s nature, and anything else is pretend. And when dear Mr Cohen says he wants to be a father, he wants to be a pretend father, and he wants his partner to be another pretend father. And it’s pathetic – not for them. People that pretend… it’s tragic for the children.
Think of Frederick II, the Holy Roman Emperor, who wanted to find out whether speech in children was genetic. So he took a certain number of babies away from their mothers and brought them up without the sound of a human voice, or a human caress, or human contact. Do you think that’s right? Because he believed in science, he really, really believed in science, and he was a wicked man. And the children were dead by the time they were three.
So I think what you want to vote for is a very sinister motion. A motion that says the government can decide that some children are selected by means quite beyond their control to be bought up by people – without a mother, and without knowledge of their father. I think that’s very wicked.
[ Richard Fairbrass calls out, "What about adoption?"]
Adoption happens, it’s not arranged to have children without parents. It happens through catastrophe, because the parents are drug addicts, because they don’t care, they’re delinquents, all sorts of reasons. I just don’t think it’s a question about gays, it’s just [gay people] saying “Look at me, look at me, look at me”. It’s not about bloody gays. It’s about bloody children, and what they need. And to wilfully deprive them by allowing them – you mentioned Elton John okay, very sad, he said last year that he was heartbroken to see that his son realised at four that he didn’t have a mother. And he said “we’ll have to get another child”, and he might have added “because misery loves company”. It’s going to cause trouble. We’ve been doing it for ten minutes in historical terms.
It’s very unfortunate – who do they blame? Who do they take it out on? All parents know who they take it out on when they’re adolescent. They pass through it, they come out as almost human. It’s very complicated to rear a child and there’s no doubt that it needs, if it has one, a mother, and having a pretend father and a pretend father in the place of the mother is ridiculous.
[An audience member calls out "Your entire line of argument seems to be resting on something very well documented, called the naturalistic fallacy." The audience applauds.]
I despise you all, being in the same cart. I despise the fact that you all punched the air. Twenty or thirty years ago you would have punched the air in the opposite direction. All sodomites are wicked! Damn them! Imprison them! It just proves that because you go to Oxford and Cambridge and you afterwards govern the country, we’re falling to bits.
The information I want to give you is that I want all of you need to consider the position of your mother in your life. Would you be without her, even if she’s a slut? Even if she doesn’t go out in the snow, and stand with you in your exams? Even if she doesn’t fulfil any of the criteria of what somebody or other believes is a good mother, she is your mother, she gave you birth, she gave you life, and you owe it to her to vote against this rotten motion.
The motion passed with 345 votes to 21.