A Yorkshire farmer from more than 200 years ago had more tolerant views on homosexuality than Israel Folau
A Yorkshire farmer who lived 200 years ago had more tolerant views on homosexuality than disgraced rugby player Israel Folau, a newly discovered diary has revealed.
The diary, written by Matthew Tomlinson, has suggested that some people may have been more tolerant of homosexuality 200 years ago than was originally thought.
In a diary entry that is far-removed from Folau’s anti-LGBT+ comments, the farmer suggested that same-sex attraction was “natural”.
“In this exciting new discovery, we see a Yorkshire farmer arguing that homosexuality is innate and something that shouldn’t be punished by death,” Oxford researcher Eamonn O’Keeffe told BBC News.
Yorkshire farmer questioned whether homosexuality was really unnatural 200 years ago, making him more tolerant than Israel Folau.
Eamonn O’Keeffe has been studying the diaries, which are held in Wakefield Library, and came across the surprising passage in which Tomlinson argued for tolerance.
Tomlinson reportedly wrote the diary passage following a “sex scandal” in which a naval surgeon was found to have had same-sex relations.
He was ordered to be hanged by a court martial for the crime – but Tomlinson wasn’t convinced. He questioned in his diary whether the acts were really unnatural.
In this exciting new discovery, we see a Yorkshire farmer arguing that homosexuality is innate and something that shouldn’t be punished by death.
In stark contrast to Folau’s assertion that “hell awaits” gay people, Tomlinson argued for tolerance and some level of acceptance.
“It must seem strange indeed that God Almighty should make a being with such a nature, or such a defect in nature; and at the same time make a decree that if that being whom he had formed, should at any time follow the dictates of that nature, with which he was formed, he should be punished with death,” he wrote on January 14 1810.
The farmer argued that homosexuality must be natural.
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Furthermore, Tomlinson wrote that, if a person had an “inclination and propensity” towards homosexuality from an early age, it must be natural.
“It must then be considered as natural, otherwise as a defect in nature – and if natural, or a defect in nature; it seems cruel to punish that defect with death,” he said.
Notably, he also wrote that he had been told that a person can be gay from an early age, which tells us that ordinary people may have been more open in discussing these issues than we would think.
Tomlinson’s views are a far cry from Folau’s, who recently argued that the Australian bushfires were “God’s judgement” for legalising gay marriage.
However, Tomlinson’s views weren’t all about tolerance and acceptance. He also argued that if a person was gay by choice rather than by nature, they should be castrated.
While some of Tomlinson’s views may be abhorrent to a modern day audience, they are arguably still not as bad as some of Folau’s.