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Daily Mail hits back at ‘political zealots’ over anti-gay parenting Tom Daley column

Nick Duffy February 20, 2018
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Tom Daley and Dustin Lance Black

The Daily Mail has hit back at “zealots” offended by a column targeting dads-to-be Tom Daley and Dustin Lance Black.

The newspaper lost a string of advertisers over the shocking column from Richard Littlejohn, which was written after Tom Daley, 23, and his Oscar-winning husband, 43, announced they were expecting a child.

It is believed the pair are using a surrogate, whose identity is being kept private.

Littlejohn published a column today insisting that gay parenting is “not normal”, including the line “pass the sick bag”.

He wrote: ” still cling to the belief that children benefit most from being brought up by a man and a woman.

Brtish Olympic athlete Tom Daley (L) and his partner American screenwriter Dustin Lance Black arrive to attend the UK Premiere of the film "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2" in central London on November 5, 2015. AFP PHOTO / JUSTIN TALLIS (Photo credit should read JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images)
(Getty)

“Which is precisely what worries me most about the Daley publicity stunt. Here we have two men drawing attention to the fact that ‘they’ are having a baby.

“But where’s the mum, the possessor of the womb which features in this photograph? She appears to have been written out of the script entirely.”

The columnist proceeded to claim the announcement made him want to vomit, writing “pass the sick bag”.

But the newspaper is not backing down over the story – and hit out at the thousands of people who voiced their outrage.

In a statement to Press Gazette, a spokesperson for the newspaper said: “Had any of the political zealots who attacked Richard Littlejohn’s column actually read it they would know that he explicitly supports civil partnerships and the fostering of children by gay couples – hardly evidence of homophobia.

“Nor is it homophobic to ask whether it is right to deny a child the love of its own mother.

“It is very sad that any advertiser should give way to bullying by a tiny group of politically motivated internet trolls in their attempts to censor newspapers with which they disagree.”

Tom Daley and Dustin Lance Black (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)
(Getty)

Supporting some level of basic human rights for gay people does not make anyone immune to being homophobic.

The columnist very much has form when it comes to harassing LGBT people.

In 2012, Littlejohn wrote a column for the Mail ‘outing’ a transgender school teacher, Lucy Meadows, insisting that trans people should not be permitted in classrooms.

Meadows – who complained to the press watchdog about Littlejohn’s column – took her own life just months later.

The coroner in the case was critical of the press coverage of Meadows, though he was later rebuked by the Office for Judicial Complaints after a legal complaint was lodged.

Littlejohn last year published smears aimed at a serving military officer.

He took aim at the Commander United Kingdom Maritime Forces, Rear Admiral Alex J. Burton, when he criticised Donald Trump’s ban on transgender troops.

The Mail column

Transgender people have served in the UK armed forces for years, but Mail columnist Richard Littlejohn wrote a 1500-word piece attacking Burton, peppered with old-school homophobic jibes.

He wrote: “Rear Admiral Burton’s official photograph makes him look like one of those gay Dutch policemen played by Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse.

“Sorry, but I couldn’t help thinking of Julian and Sandy, the alter egos of Kenneth Williams and Hugh Paddick in Round The Horne. ‘Oooo, ’ello, I’m Julian and this is my friend Rear Admiral Burton. Isn’t he bona?’
“Hello, sailor. Or was that The Navy Lark?”

He laments: “These days, the military takes diversity so seriously that even Dick Emery’s camp character, Clarence — catchphrase ‘Hello, Honky Tonks’ — would have no difficulty signing up.”

In one of the most disgusting homophobic smears in the piece, Littlejohn appears to allude to the homophobic slur ‘pillow biter’, quipping: “There’s also mention of a boat called ‘HMS Biter’.”

Attacking the approach to LGBT diversity within the Armed Forces, Littlejohn claims: “It’s nobody’s business. We didn’t ask the soldiers at Dunkirk how many of them were wearing silk cami-knickers under their khakis.”

Stonewall’s Jeff Ingold said of the Daley piece: “It was stunning to see the amount of abuse directed at the recently married couple.

“Death threats were made and whole threads used the news to question whether same-sex people were morally capable of having a family. If it provoked surprise from many quarters it shouldn’t: homophobic, biphobic, and transphobic abuse is all too common online. One in ten LGBT people have experienced anti-LGBT abuse online directed towards them personally in the last month.

“Even more alarming was the national newspaper carrying a headline asserting that we shouldn’t ‘pretend two dads is the new normal’ and making the case that ‘children benefit most from being raised by a man and woman’. It’s deeply depressing that we’re still even having this conversation. Being a good parent has nothing to do with sexual orientation or whether a child has two mums or two dads.

“The important thing is for a child to have a loving family, no matter who makes it up.

“This reaction to Tom and Dustin’s baby news should be a wakeup call to all LGBT people and allies. It shows just how fragile the equality we think we’ve gained can be. We cannot afford to be complacent about the progress we’ve made because it’s not necessarily permanent. We need to be vigilant about our rights and vocal in defence of them – at home and abroad.”

Several advertisers have vowed to stop funding the Daily Mail over the controversy.

London’s Southbank Centre confirmed it had dropped ads after facing pressure from the group ‘Stop Funding Hate’.

It confirmed on Twitter: “Southbank Centre reaches out to audiences through wide-ranging online and offline media titles, across the political spectrum.

“We monitor the environment in which our advertising appears, to ensure the values of a publication are compatible with our own. We have no future plans to advertise within the Daily Mail.”

Center Parcs wrote: “We take where we advertise very seriously and have a number of steps to prevent our advertising from appearing alongside inappropriate content.

“We felt this placement was completely unacceptable and therefore ceased advertising with the Daily Mail with immediate effect.”

Quorn, which sells vegetarian and vegan meat substitutes, also confirmed it had ceased advertising.

Related topics: Gay, LGBT, richard littlejohn, tom daley

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