There's much spluttering on some left wing blogs today about a blogpost by Conservative MEP Roger Helmer in which he says he is against gay marriage and questions whether homophobia exists. Having failed to "get" Michael Kaminski, they are now turning their attention to Helmer.
The simple truth is that many gay people do not support 'gay marriage'. Civil partnerships yes, but not gay marriage. I have always taken the view that marriage implies a religious element to the proceedings, whereas civil partnerships do not. That's not to say that gay people can't be religious, but it is probably going one step too far for most religions (apart from Quakers) to endorse gay marriage as an institution. So to be against gay marriage does not imply homophobia.
Where I part company with Roger Helmer is his assertion that homophobia doesn't exist. He writes...
And while we’re mentioning semantic issues, let me point out that the neologism “homophobia” is not so much a word as a political agenda. In psychiatry, a phobia is defined as an irrational fear. I have yet to meet anyone who has an irrational fear of homosexuals, or of homosexuality. So to the extent that the word has any meaning at all, it describes something which simply does not exist. “Homophobia” is merely a propaganda device designed to denigrate and stigmatise those holding conventional opinions, which have been held by most people through most of recorded history. It is frightening evidence of the way in which political correctness is threatening our freedom. It is creating “thought crimes”, where merely to hold a conventional opinion is seen, in itself, to be unacceptable and reprehensible. I’m sorry, but I don’t buy it.
Well it's certainly an argument and I understand what he means by it being used by those with a political agenda, but to pretend that homophobia does not exist is to pretend that racism or sexism are figments of people's imagination too. There are plenty of black men who have been beaten up (or worse) as a result of racism. There are plenty of women who can attest to the fact that sexism is alive and well in our society, and there are plenty of gay men and women who have at one time or other suffered from various forms of homophobia. But, and there is a big but, the trouble with this area is that too many people on the left go looking for 'phobias' or 'isms' where none exist. For example, left wing bloggers seem to insinuate that by writing this article it proves Roger Helmer is himself homophobic. Balls.
If you can't tell a harmless joke about a particular nationality without being accused of being racist, if you can't tell a mother in law joke without being accused of being sexist, if you can't write an article questioning the concept of gay marriage without being accused of being homophobic, then it says a lot about the politically correct society we have become.
The thing about political parties is that they are broad churches or they are nothing. Political parties which seek to become narrow, moralistic sects will inevitably die or lose elections. The Left find it difficult to understand how Roger Helmer and I can be in the same party. I suspect we would both say that there is far more that unites us than divides us.