Thu 24th Jul 2014 | Last updated: Thu 24th Jul 2014 at 14:00pm

Facebook Logo Twitter Logo RSS Logo
Hot Topics

Latest News

Widdecombe tells Cameron: Christians deserve same protection as gay people

By on Thursday, 20 October 2011

Widdecombe: 'Hedgehogs are better represented in Parliament than Christians' (PA photo)

Widdecombe: 'Hedgehogs are better represented in Parliament than Christians' (PA photo)

On Saturday Ann Widdecombe is expected to accuse the Government of double standards in its threats to cut aid to countries which persecute gay people while turning a blind eye to persecution against Christians.

In a speech in central London, the former Conservative minister will contrast the British Government’s overseas aid policy with a more cautious stance on state-sponsored violence and intimidation against Christians.

In an address at the annual conference of Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), Miss Widdecombe is expected to say: “David Cameron’s government have threatened to cut the overseas aid budget for countries which persecute homosexuals.

“Fair enough. But what about Christians? When do we qualify for such protection or don’t we?”

Miss Widdecombe will say Britain’s overseas aid budget should “take into account” a country’s record on religious freedom.

Miss Widdecombe, who converted to Catholicism in 1993, makes her comments after Church leaders in Egypt last week accused the regime of “using” a “rabble army” in an unprovoked attack which left 25 people dead – most of them Copts – and 329 injured.

In Pakistan, where British aid is on course to double to £350 million per year, Christian labourer Asia Bibi is on death row for blasphemy in a case that has attracted international outrage.

Meanwhile, International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell has cut Britain’s aid to Malawi after two gay men were sentenced to 14 years hard labour.

According to newspaper reports, the Government has threatened to cut aid to other poor African countries accused of persecuting gays.

In her speech in Westminster Cathedral Hall, Miss Widdecombe will accuse the Government of indifference to the rights of Christians.

Ann Widdecombe, who in March became ACN’s special envoy to religious freedom, will say: “You stand a better chance of earnest representation if you are a hedgehog – and I speak as a patron of the Hedgehog Protection Society.

“In the last 10 years, how many debates have there been on persecution of Christians, how many Government statements on the subject?”

Her comments come after Aid to the Church in Need gave statistics in its report on Christian persecution showing that 75 per cent of all religious persecution was directed against Christians.

Other research shows that 105,000 Christians are killed every year for faith-related reasons.

In her speech, Miss Widdecombe will appeal to the public to call on the Government to make defence of religious freedom a foreign policy priority.

She will say: “Today we should all begin to act. Each of us should pick one country, pray for it, donate to the Church there, write to [UK Foreign Secretary] William Hague and the local MP.

“We should make it our business to follow reports about persecuted Christians – especially through the work of Aid to the Church in Need.”

Neville Kyrke-Smith, British director of Aid to the Church in Need, said: “The persecution of Christians is a critical issue which we will be addressing on Saturday in a series of talks. It is a sell-out event – which must stimulate debate and action.”

Mr Kyrke-Smith is among the other speakers at the conference which will also be addressed by John Pontifex, ACN UK Head of Press and Information, and Mgr Robert Stern, who has just retired as chief of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association.

Taking as its theme “The Arab Spring: A Spring or Autumn for Christians?”, the conference will address the problem of sustaining the Christian presence in a region where churchgoers are emigrating en masse.

In Iraq, the Christian population is understood to have plummeted from 1.4 million to barely 150,000.

The Egyptian Union of Human Rights Organisations published a report last month claiming that since the fall of President Mubarak in February more than 100,000 Christians had fled the country following an upsurge of violence and intimidation against religious minorities.

  • Paul

    Its true,if the Government is serious in protecting and safeguarding human rights,the Christians are one of the minorities facing discrimination and persecution  HUNDRED TIMES MORE THAN GAY PEOPLE!!!!!

  • ms Catholic state

    Well said Ms Widdecombe.  It’s time someone exposed the casual and callous indifference to Christian persecution at the heart of our oh-so post-Christian government.

    And great practical suggestions for everyone who calls themselves Christian.

  • Guest

    What an absolutely stupid comment.

    Seriously.

    Absolutely 100% stupid.

  • Honeybadger

    Well said, Ann Widdecombe! Thank you for your courage and having the guts to speak out.

    Paul, you are SPOT ON! It’s high time the world acknowledges that there is more than one group in the world being persecuted, victimised, tortured and murdered.

    What is happening with Egyptian Copts is the tip of the iceberg. Unfortunately, it does not reach the news and one has to seek elsewhere for the truth – Aid To The Church In Need needs our practical support.

  • Luna

    And your comment is so utterly brilliant.

  • Luna

    And, just for the record, that was sarcasm.

  • Anonymous

    Both get a hard time on various occasions in various places at various times – let’s not spoil things by daftness suggesting that either is more worthy of protection than the other. The murder of David Kato in Uganda and and the torture of gay Iraqis is no more attractive than the bombing of churches in Iraq & the persecution of Zimbabwean Anglicans. Christians, of all people, can’t look out for themselves *alone* – “do not the children of this world do as much ?” Should not Christians go beyond “the children of this world” ? Archbishop Tutu did:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/desmond-tutu/religion-homosexuality_b_874804.html

    As for Christians:

    http://www.persecution.com/

    http://www.wheregodweeps.org/

  • Anonymous

    We need to stand up for BOTH, gay people AND Christians. 

  • Anonymous

    Not to be a pedant but..

    It is estimated that 5-6% of the population is gay, so it would be actually around 5 TIMES MORE, not a hundred.
    It amazes me how frequently the gay/bi-sexual population is under-estimated as a proportion of society.

  • Anonymous

    Love HuffPo now it has a UK News site too! 

  • Anonymous

    Yes, I believe that’s what she is suggesting.

  • Graham

    Basically I agree with you.  Whatever, our opinions as Roman Catholics maybe concerning the issue of homosexuality, we must be clear that we do not support the persecution of that, or any other group.  We are just asking that Christian’s are also afforded the same human rights and freedoms.

  • Anonymous

    Actually, Paulsays, it seems that the homosexual population has been over-estimated. All recent research, including the last three comprehensive ONS surveys (questioning over 400,000 respondents each time) as well as surveys carried out in Scandinavia, Europe and Canada, point to a human homosexual population of about 1.2%. 

    When the previous government sought to bring in Civil Partnerships, it argued that between 7-10% of the UK population was homosexual, and he BBC even seemed to suggest that around 25% of humans are “gay” – maybe they took a straw-poll in one of their canteens!

    With the results of such a comprehensive set of annual surveys now available, such as the ones carried out by the Office of National Statistics, I think it is fair to say that the homosexual population has been hugely over-inflated. It is also seems right to say that about 1.2% of people are “gay”, as opposed to the 5-6% you suggest.

  • Anonymous

    Over 100,000 Christians are murdered (martyred) every year for their faith and nothing is being done about it. One homosexual, such as David Kato gets killed by his angry rent boy, and the whole world seems desperate to respond by calling for “gay rights” and a redefinition of marriage. (It is now quite clear that Kato was murdered by a young man who was expected to be paid for sexual services, not because he was some kind of gay rights campaigner).

    Seems to me that Christians aren’t being protected at all (and never really have been, even when Europe was supposedly Christian), whilst the world (whose prince is…?) is currently bending over backwards to promote and protect homosexuality.

  • Anonymous

    As long as we do not fall into the trap of advocating homosexual acts or end up working for anti-theistic campaigns that call for so-called rights that fly in the face of the natural law.

    No man or woman should suffer persecution. Catholic fact.

    But it is entirely just for us to campaign against so-called gay rights that threaten to harm society and destroy the right understanding of what it is to be human. That is not persecution – even if many gays seem to suggest that it is.

  • Anonymous

    We shouldn’t expect governments to care – they do what they think is in their interests. Unfortunately they seem to think that promoting atheism is in their interests but it is not democracy. The vast majority of British people are Christian and it is not in the interests of Britain to turn its back on Christ while supporting fundamentalist atheism. Protect all human beings certainly, but without promoting the nonsense that got them into the state they are in. Britain, America and Europe didn’t get where they are today without Jesus Christ. And in the sense we use the word today, Jesus wasn’t jewish, anymore than St Francis was gay. For better or for worse, the meaning of both words has changed. In terms of British values, there is a simple choice – Jesus Christ or Atheism. In promoting the gay agenda, while failing to protect christians, the government is choosing atheism, and betraying the heritage of the British people.

  • https://openid.org/locutus LocutusOP

    Most British people might be baptised, but they are certainly not Christians….Not if that word means more than just having had some water on one’s head in a religious ceremony at one point in time.

    To put it another way….If the vast majority of British people are Christians then there is something very wrong with Christianity.

  • Brian A Cook

    I believe that “Kato was killed by his sex partner” story was debunked.

  • Anonymous

    Paul wrote:>Its true,if the Government is serious in protecting and safeguarding human rights,the Christians are one of the minorities facing discrimination and persecution  HUNDRED TIMES MORE THAN GAY PEOPLE!!!!!

    I know. I can remember those dreadful days when Christians were put in prison in England and Wales (until 1967) and in Scotland (until 1980), when policemen in disguise acted as agents provocateur to entrap Christians, when Christians aged under 21 were forced to conceal their religion until they were 21 (until 1994) or then until they were 18 (2000), when Christians were put in mental asylums or given hormone injections or went in daily fear of blackmail, etc, etc. And of course Christians are still bullied at school and driven to suicide.

    OK. That was written somewhat tongue in cheek and the two cannot be exactly compared in that way. But one doesn’t have to approve of homosexual practice to feel compassion for a group of people who were persecuted for centuries in this country, were still subject to imprisonment and other types of unjust discrimination within the lifetimes of many of us, and are still being persecuted elsewhere.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks, Parasum. You are the voice of decency and compassion.

  • Ion Zone

    The decline of Christianity is a key problem with regards to morality – people believe in the Christian God (Which is what WhyTheWorldIsEnding means), but, increasingly, they don’t follow the moral teachings of the faith simply because they haven’t been taught about them.

  • Anonymous

    The point is that as long as they see themselves as Christians, it is deeply undemocratic to ignore that shared sense of identity. Part of being Christian is standing up and being counted, and the British count themselves as Christian. There is something very wrong but not with Christianity.

  • Paul

    you might be  GAY thats why you see my comment as utterly stupid,since GAYS feel they are special and need special treatment from everybody,they are sometimes VERY  selfish,overlooking the other minority groups who faces horrible persecutions more than they do.What the gay community faces in most parts of the world is  RECOGNITION and REDIFINITION of marriage(equal rights).

  • Leo

    It so sad they protect homosexuals who barely suffer and who exaggerate their suffering but they dont protect Christians who have suffer far more than any homosexuals and who outnumber homosexuals and the Christians barely complain. It seems the people who run Britain are anti-christian and pro-gay. Most people in England in are Christian they are the majority and yet the goverment protects gays around the world who are a minority.

  • http://twitter.com/PJTPOOAM Thomas Poovathinkal

    WHEN CHRISTIANS ARE PERSECUTED, IT IS AN APPEAL FOR SALVATION FROM UNSAVED PEOPLE.

    TRUE CHRISTIANS, LIKE CHRIST, ARE SUPPOSED TO SOW THE SEED OF SALVATION – PROCLAIM THE

    THE WORD, “REPENT FOR THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS …..

    THEY – THE ONES WHO BELONG TO CHRIST – THE CHRISTIANS – TAKE TO PERSECUTION LIKE CHRIST

    WHO HIMSELF GOT PERSECUTED  THE MOST…..IN THE SPIRIT OF HIS CROSS….IT IS THE CROSS OF

    THE LORD THAT BROUGHT SALVATION TO US, THEN WHY SHOULD WE GRUMBLE OR APPEAL TO THE

    WORLD AGAINST PERSECUTION?

  • https://openid.org/locutus LocutusOP

    Evidently, it wasn’t bad enough to colonise Africa – with all the massacres, thuggery and humiliation. Now the Western cartel want’s to get rid of what’s left of the continent by demanding that they lose what’s little of their morals while at the same time promoting the slaughter of their unborn children. These seem to be the terms upon which ‘aid’ is conditioned.

    It can only be a good thing if Africans stop receiving ‘aid’ from Western countries, although ideally it is the African countries which should take the first step refuse it categorically. ‘Foreign aid’ has helped the African continent very little, if at all, given what many of these countries have had to give up to receive it.

    I hope the African countries will for once stand up and say that they won’t sell their culture and moral traditions for money.

    In any case, given all the problems in Europe and the U.S., I find it curious they can even spare any money to send abroad in the first place.

  • Anonymous

    Living in Brussels where there is a large muslim community, I do in no way feel threatened in my faith. I personally respect homosexuals as human-beings on the same level as any other creed or sexual choice. It is for me as a Christian to have faith in God and not to fear eventhough I know very well that Christianity is currently being knocked left, right and center. But let’s bear in mind that the Christian faith has been through much worse times. I sport my crucifix with pride and try and pray as much as I can in order to keep my faith strong enough to contend with the harsh but somewhat shallow criticism Christianity is enduring these days. Prayer is the route to faith and hope (this is my personal opinion of course).

  • Anonymous

    Living in Brussels where there is a large muslim community, I do in no way feel threatened in my faith. I personally respect homosexuals as human-beings on the same level as any other creed or sexual choice. It is for me as a Christian to have faith in God and not to fear eventhough I know very well that Christianity is currently being knocked left, right and center. But let’s bear in mind that the Christian faith has been through much worse times. I sport my crucifix with pride and try and pray as much as I can in order to keep my faith strong enough to contend with the harsh but somewhat shallow criticism Christianity is enduring these days. Prayer is the route to faith and hope (this is my personal opinion of course).

  • Anaplaisant

    Bravo, Ms. Widdecombe!  Thanks be to God for your braveness and deep insights.   God bless you.

  • Anonymous

    @LocutusOP “having some water on one’s head”. Baptism is more than this. It is the normal way of being incorporated into Christ. That is not to deny the importance of subsequent growth in faith.

  • Anonymous

    Thomas P – Bless those who curse you doesn’t mean join in with the cursing. Similarly, love your enemies doesn’t mean join in with or condone their sins. An unmarried person who consents to otherwise unlawful sexual advances may not – these days – be the victim of a crime but may yet sin. PROTESTING is the way you show that you do not consent. Christians are being victimised and murdered and if we do not protest then we are consenting by our silence – and in that way become accomplices (see page 73, question 329, answers 3 and 8, of the pocket Catechism). The persecuted are in need of our support, and if we do not complain on behalf of our Christian brothers and sisters, we would be not much of a family. Jesus said that anyone who gives even a cup of water to someone who has faith – because they have faith - will not lose their reward. We should therefore serve all in need but especially the servants of God. As for sinners, we have a duty to instruct the ignorant (page 70, question 322, answer 2). If we do not speak out, how are they going to know they are transgressing? This is not self-indulgent grumbling – it is duty as Christians. Speaking out is why they are being persecuted! Remember that they don’t have democracy….Neither will we if we don’t use it!

  • Trajanpeleste293482

    Your opinion, rather than “fair”, is biased by your prejudices.  Yes, you are prejudiced.  Everyone is.  The fact is that there is no universally accepted objective definition of a “gay” or “homosexual” person.  And even if one were to adopt a particular definition for one or many surveys, it remains that people in different cultures, countries, families, neighborhoods, ages, etc. would answer the question differently.  Even over time, people respond differently to the same question, particularly one so socially charged.  It can be simultaneously true that 10% of people are “gay” in one sense of the word, while 2% are “gay” in another sense of the word.  And when surveyed again, the numbers can change.

  • Macy Bellingham

    AReluctantSinner, your interpretation of the ONS surveys and others is not
    “fair”, unless by “fair” you mean fairly faulty.  For example, the ONS states that only “94 per cent of adults identified themselves as Heterosexual/Straight”.  That leaves AT LEAST 6% who do not claim to be heterosexual, including those who were either openly gay/lesbian/bisexual or who were closeted in their responses.  Specifically, the ONS states that while
    “1.5% of adults in the United Kingdom [willingly] identified themselves as
    Gay/Lesbian or Bisexual” to the survey workers, another “3.6 per cent of adults stated they
    ‘Don’t know’ or Refused the question” and an additional “0.7 per cent of
    respondents provided ‘No response’ to the question”.  That’s 6 percent.  Many more simply said
    no thanks to the survey in general.  That
    brings us to 11 percent.  And it goes higher as we include the many of the “94%” who
    were unwilling to admit that they are gay/lesbian/bisexual or who outright lied
    to the surveyors or who played semantic and “mental reservation” games, etc.  For example, it is popular among some “gay”
    Christians to allege, “No, I’m not gay. 
    I’m heterosexual.  I’m just suffering from same-sex attraction and engaging in homosexual acts during my lifelong apprenticeship of chastity.”  It remains even today that the socially-“preferred” response throughout the UK and elsewhere is “heterosexual” and overall survey responses will be biased
    toward the socially-preferred response. 
    Voluntary self-identification to surveyors on such a contentious issue is not a demonstrably reliable measure.  And the ONS does not claim it to be.  According to the ONS, the
    survey’s statistics are considered “experimental”, “in a testing phase” and “not
    yet fully developed”.  We don’t have an effective way to test the accuracy of these surveys in respect to how or if they actually measure how many people actually are gay/lesbian/bisexual, whatever those terms might mean.  Indeed, the terms are not well-defined and different surveys use different definitions, or don’t use any definitions, or sometimes don’t even use these terms at all.  Furthermore, with many surveys such as those from the ONS, data collection happened on doorsteps or over
    the phone, which may deter people from giving accurate responses – particularly
    if the respondent isn’t openly “gay” at home.  It is “fair” to say that we do not well know how many people are “gay”, particularly as society continues to come to grips with understanding what it even means.

  • Anonymous

    It hasn’t been debunked.

    A man confessed to the crime, and hasn’t changed his story.

    Some people just cannot accept the truth, especially if it goes against their model of the world (which usually runs like this: gays = wonderful saints; Christians = evil).

  • Anonymous

    No, my opinions are not “biased by” my alleged prejudices. Are yours by your admitted prejudices?

    My opinions on homosexuality are based on fact and objective reason and truth.

    The fact is that the ONS survey is the most comprehensive survey / study of its kind. It has produced similar results over the past few years, and reflects other scientifically based studies of the kind in other western countries – all of which also suggest that the homosexuals make up about 1.5% of the human population. It strikes me as very strange that gay rights lobbyists never question spurious stats based on unreliable surveys, especially when they bizarrely suggest that 10 – 25% of the human population is homosexual! This ONS survey is based on the responses of 450,000 people (not the 1000 – 5000 usually used by researchers). 

    I think the question on the survey used the word homosexual – everyone knows what this means and it is both scientific and morally objective (unlike “gay”, which implies support for homosexuality). Also, the ONS published results from different parts of Britain, showing that some laces, like London, have a higher proportion of homosexuals (about 2.5% of the population).  

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for your catty comment – I’m sure it made you feel big about yourself. Comments that usually begin with some bitchy remark are obviously lacking in objectivity or reasoned argument. But, not wishing to dismiss you out of hand, I will concentrate on your first point.

    You said: “… the ONS states that only “94 per cent of adults identified themselves as Heterosexual/Straight”.  That leaves AT LEAST 6% who do not claim to be heterosexual, including those who were either openly gay/lesbian/bisexual or who were closeted in their responses.”

    As has already been pointed out by many commentators on research into this subject, not identifying as hererosexual does not imply bisexuality or homosexuality. In fact, when those people who refuse to answer questions about their sexuality are usually asked why they do so, most answer a) that they believe that such question are inappropriate / personal and b) that they are so disgusted by homosexuality that they refuse to dignify the question with an answer. There is a third category, namely those who are heterosexual but have no idea what heterosexual means – so refuse to answer. It reminds me of what a teacher told me the other week. He lectures at a 6th Form College and the students were asked to fill in a questionnaire asking them whether they were “homosexual, heterosexual, bisexual”. One poor girl looked very confused, turned to my friend and said, “Sir, which one am I if I’m just normal?” What would you tell this young woman? 

  • Theomere

    God must be extremely ashamed of you all. You are all acting selfishly and pretentiously. It is a wonderful thing that He forgives us our sins and loves every one of us; it means that you still have a chance at those pearly gates. You think God so ineffectual that He cannot decide on the individual fates of people, that you have to stand up and attempt to condemn and judge others. Be more concerned with your own hearts for they sound shrivelled and petty. I always find it hilarious how there could be some people who believe they have unshakeable knowledge of God’s will, who think scripture couldn’t have been altered to suit the purposes of others over the centuries, who twist the words to suit their own ends.

  • Guest

    So when the gays get something the christians don’t have, then it’s an abomination!?   A politician and a religious believer.  Double dose of hypocrisy ahoy!  

    It’s a very serious subject young Anne is bringing up here but unfortunately, like any good Christian, she HAD to have a swipe at homosexuality, and instantly defuses her argument, turning it in to a bitter side show; And the most ‘Most Discriminated Against’ award goes to….. (come on, it’s a competition, you guys love being holier-than-thou)