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Monday, 9 February 2009

Tick here if you're gay | straight | bi | don't know

I’m not sure about this. On the surface it seems a victory for LGBT rights – or at least a happy compromise. What do you think?

A charity called Pilgrim Homes, which runs an old folk’s home in Brighton, UK, got into hot water by claiming that its Christian principles prevented it from asking residents four times a year whether they were gay or not.

The local council withdrew funding, but, according to Pink News, Pilgrim Homes will now get its money back if it undertakes to ask about sexual orientation – but now it needs to do so only when residents first apply for a place instead of every three months.

OK, so residents can refuse to answer the questions at all, one assumes, but is asking them about their sexuality not going to skew any possible result? Most of these people are over 80. If they’re asked whether they’re gay, bi, hettie or unsure, aren’t most of them going to put heterosexual?

First, you’re probably not going to admit to being unsure. That leaves straight, gay and bi. Many people – especially older people – are going to feel uncomfortable about answering questions about their sexuality, and simply refusing to answer could, in some people’s eyes, indicate that they have something to hide (even if that’s a gay sexuality that need not be hidden, anyway, because there’s nothing wrong with it).

Better by far that the home (and to hell with its Christian ethos) be made to cater for gay people if they wish it, and that gay residents be given every encouragement to state their sexuality and any needs that it throws up if they wish to. If gay people are made welcome and seen to be made welcome, those who feel the need to discuss their sexuality will be more likely to do so.

Having tick boxes or whatever in the name of a diversity policy – put in place by the local council to comply with the Equality Act 2006 and Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007 – seems to be unnecessarily intrusive.

Gay or straight, would you wish to be asked four times a year whether you’re gay, straight bi or don’t know? Imagine what the neighbours would say if you admitted to not knowing your sexuality!

Of course, the Christian fundies have given their four penn’orth. Mike Judge, a spokesbigot for the Christian Institute, which backed Pilgrim Homes’ case, says, “Christians pay their taxes too and they should have equal access to public grants without being required to drop their Christian ethos. I hope other councils take note.”

Well, while, as I say, I’m unsure about the four-times-a-year stipulation, Mr Judge, just what has Christian ethos got to do with people’s rights? It’s so-called Christian “ethos” that has ensured people have been denied their rights in so many cases. And that goes for other oppressive religious cults, too.

Try thinking in terms of basic humanity and stop believing that everything has to be decided based on the ancient writings of nomadic Middle Eastern goatherds.


Anonymous said...

It's utterly ridiculous that they should ask your sexual orientation 4 times a year. The home should really have objected not on the basis of their Christian values, but on the basis that it's fecking ludicrous. It should never have come down to religion.

Bill P. Godfrey said...

Is there a MYOB option?