Reading posts in response to Herald blogs on the subject of changing the law on marriage so that it is no longer defined as being between a man and a woman – as David Cameron has pledged to do by 2015 – I have been struck by the way supporters of this change brush aside the fears of those who oppose altering the law. The latter fear that if, in the future, they defend traditional marriage in public – in classrooms, meetings and so on – they will be in breach of the law. As the law has not – yet – changed we cannot know for certain if these fears are mere hysteria or legitimate, but there are precedents for anxiety over the matter.
Christian Voice has drawn my attention to a story told by journalist Mark Steyn, about the absurd situations that can arise in “hate crime” legislation. Steyn writes, “…the very same words can be proof of two entirely different hate crimes. Iqbal Sacranie is a Muslim of such exemplary ‘moderation’ he’s been knighted by the Queen. The head of the Muslim Council of Britain, Sir Iqbal was interviewed by the BBC and expressed the view that homosexuality was ‘immoral’, was ‘not acceptable’, ‘spreads disease’ and ‘damaged the very foundations of society’. A gay group complained and Sir Iqbal was investigated by Scotland Yard’s ‘community safety unit’ for ‘hate crimes’ and ‘homophobia’.
“Independently but simultaneously, the magazine of GALHA (the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association) called Islam a ‘barmy doctrine’ growing ‘like a canker’ and deeply ‘homophobic’. In return, the London Race Hate Crime Forum asked Scotland Yard to investigate GAHLA for “Islamophobia”. Got that? If a Muslim says that Islam is opposed to homosexuality, Scotland Yard will investigate him for homophobia; but if a gay says that Islam is opposed to homosexuality, Scotland Yard will investigate him for Islamophobia. Two men say exactly the same thing and they’re investigated for different hate crimes.”
This would be laughable if it were not so serious. Christian Voice adds other examples of heavy-handed and inappropriate state interference, such as that involving a 14-year-old girl, Codie Stott, who “asked her teacher at Harrop Fold High School whether she could sit with another group to do her science project as in hers the other five pupils spoke Urdu and she didn’t understand what they were saying. The teacher called the police, who took her to the station, photographed her, fingerprinted her, took DNA samples, removed her jewellery and shoelaces, put her in a cell for three and a half hours, and questioned her on suspicion of committing a Section Five “racial public-order offence”. “An allegation of a serious nature was made concerning a racially motivated remark,” declared the headmaster, Antony Edkins. The school would “not stand for racism in any form”. In a statement, Greater Manchester Police said they took “hate crime” very seriously and their treatment of Miss Stott was in line with “normal procedure”.
MercatorNet draws attention to another potential minefield: mothers and fathers will officially cease to exist in France if draft gay marriage legislation promoted by the new socialist government goes ahead. Instead, all references to “mothers and fathers” in the nation’s civil code will be exchanged for the non-gender-specific “parents”. The draft law, due to go before President Hollande’s cabinet for approval on October 31, states that “marriage is a union of two people, of different or the same gender”.
The problem is that trying to promote a false equality does not lead to peaceful coexistence or greater tolerance but to their opposite. Progressives who want to change the nature of the marriage laws in order to give same-sex unions the status of marriage are very intolerant of those they see as deeply prejudiced for wanting to retain the status quo; those seeking to keep the status quo are intolerant of what they see as misguided and illiberal attempts to undermine the foundations of a healthily functioning society. Accusations of “hate crimes” will abound and increase; the stage is set for a long war of attrition.