The editor of a Shropshire newspaper has responded to criticism for his paper’s column which mocked the parents of PinkNews founder Benjamin Cohen for staging an impromptu pro-gay protest in Russia.
The Shropshire Star last month took a swipe at Richard and Rochelle Cohen who recently staged an impromptu gay rights protest by holding up a “Gay OK” sign in the Russian city of St Petersburg, the birthplace of the country’s recently passed anti-gay laws.
In Russia, a federal law now bans the promotion of “non-traditional” relationships to minors and the media, with harsh fines and the threat of deportation for tourists.
The Shropshire Star published the column by the writer Peter Rhodes, in which he mocks Stephen Fry who called the protest “brave.”
Rhodes wrote that “Bravery ain’t what it used to be,” adding that it’s “not exactly the Hungarian uprising.”
Keith Harrison, the editor of the Star, in his column leaps to the defence of Rhodes. Noting the Stonewall “Some People Are Gay, Get Over It!”, bus ads campaign, he writes: “Thanks, I did”.
He goes on to refer to being gay as a “personal choice”, and questions the decision to ban a “Some People are Ex-Gay, Get Over It!, ads which were created in protest against the Stonewall campaign.
Continuing, he says: “Of course, homosexual people should have exactly the same rights as straight people. No more, no less.”
He writes, however: “The pro-gay lobby is always at a state of readiness, to take up arms over any perceived slight.
“Thus, organisations are scared to do anything that may paint them in anything less than a gay-friendly light.”
Comparing being gay to choosing whether to drink tea or coffee, he said: “I view it in the same way that some people like tea and others like coffee. Personal choice.”
Continuing, he writes: “The day we’ll know the battle for gay rights is won is when their lobby is strong enough to accept there are two sides to the story, confident enough to let people make their own minds up and accept that not everyone is going to agree with them on the issue.”
He notes he and Mr Rhodes’ “deep admiration for Stonewall founder Peter Tatchell”, despite the fact that human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell actually founded Outrage!, a group founded in response to Stonewall.
“Now, my colleague Peter Rhodes is old enough, ugly enough and gobby enough to stick up for himself – he’s from Yorkshire, after all,” he continues.
Concluding, he writes: “Columnist has opinion. Get over it.”, and writing in a similar fashion to the Christian bus ads: “And some people aren’t gay. Get over that too.”
Finally, posting his story to Twitter Mr Harrison Tweeted:-
— Keith Harrison (@kharrison_star) October 8, 2013