A weekly newspaper in Kent has faced a backlash after it published a homophobic letter from a reader under the headline “Take heed, all you homosexual sinners”.
The letter, which the Whitstable Times printed last week, quoted the slogan from gay and lesbian rights charity Stonewall, “Some people are gay, get over it”, alongside a passage from the bible implying that gay people are sinners.
The original letter reads:-
“The confrontational Stonewall slogan (Some people are gay, get over it) that is currently touring our city, towns and villages via Stagecoach buses has caused me to think and remember what is written by the prophet Isaiah 3-9: ‘For the look on their faces bears witness against them; they proclaim their sin like Sodom: they do not hide it. Woe to them! For they have brought evil on themselves’.”
Readers criticised the newspaper for publishing the letter and were particularly angered by the headline, which was not a quote from the letter itself. While some agreed that the headline was probably intended to be tongue-in-cheek and was therefore making fun of the letter’s author, others thought it was “designed to be provocative”.
One reader, S Frewin-Clarke, stated that he would not be reading the Whitstable Times any more, saying “the headline gives a good indication of the views of the editor and staff and although I believe in freedom of speech, I also believe journalists should be intelligent enough to create an article that does not offend.”
Editor of the paper Rebecca Smith has defended the headline. “The letters pages are a place for people to air their views. This letter did represent an extreme view and the headline summarised that view,” she said.
“Less than 20 people responded to the letter online or by email. While many of those who did respond were angered at the content, others said that this was a debate they are hearing in forums, such as churches, across the town.”
The newspaper has also stated that there will be two pages of letters on the subject in this week’s edition with a comment from the editor about it.