John on October 2, 2006 at 2:04 pm
In June, the Gay Police Association (GPA) in the UK ran the following advertisement in a special diversity section of the Independent:
The full text of the ad reads:
In the last 12 months, the GPA has recorded a 74% increase in homophobic incidents, where the sole or primary motivating factor was the religious belief of the perpetrator.
Verbal abuse and physical assault against gay men and women is a criminal offense and should always be reported to the police.
Discrimination against gay people in the workplace is also unlawful and should be reported to employers who have a duty of care to prevent it.
Homophobia can never be justified and must never be tolerated.
Looking at the Bible and the blood and reading the text about “physical assaults” one would surely think there is some kind of anti-gay pogrom going on in Britain, possibly run by a cabal of evangelicals. But is it?
The ad caused outrage among Christians in the UK. A formal complaint was made to Scotland Yard, which eventually received 50K complaints about the ad. Earlier this month Scotland Yard decided not to prosecute the GPA under hate crime laws which protect faith as well as sexual orientation.
Yet, for all the hubbub, I could not find one newspaper story which bothered to look carefully at the statistic used in the ad. After all, one can’t argue with facts. If there has been a steep increase in gay bashing by Christians, then that’s how it is. But I would want to at least look at the facts before reaching any conclusions about the ad.
Ann Widdecombe, writing in the Daily Express at least asks the salient questions:
It would be interesting to know the nature of the homophobic incidents.
Indeed it would. With a little more searching we discover this article from CNSNews which reveals the source of the statistic used in the ad:
Vic Codling, national coordinator of the GPA, told BBC News that the text of the advertisement was based on homophobic incidents logged by the Association’s 24-hour helpline.
The same article quotes Don Axcell, director of the Christian Police Association:
“They say their helpline dealt with 14 cases of faith-based homophobia last year — but not all of that was Christian,” he said. Also, the existence of “14 cases is minuscule if you consider the thousands of police officers in Britain,” according to Axcell.
So the 74% increase in incidents refers to 14 incidents received on the GPA helpline. My math skills aren’t what they used to be but I guess that means there were 8 incidents the year before. Okay, but we shouldn’t make light of any incidents. After all, we’re talking about bloodshed and violence. Right?
Not exactly. According to this article from pinknews.co.uk, the GPA hotline in question seems to be one that fields calls from gay police officers complaining about alleged incidents of workplace homophobia:
The GPA claims that its 24-hour help line has received a 75 per cent increase in calls and warns that much of this is caused by homophobia from Christian and Muslim officers.
Vic Codling, the GPA’s national co-ordinator told Police Review that there were 14 cases last year of so-called “faith based” homophobia. He claimed that incidents included religious officers refusing to work with gay colleagues and the removal of gay officers from equality groups.
So according to the GPA coordinator the incidents were workplace related. No one was bludgeoned or assaulted (I think we can be certain to have heard about it from the GPA if they had.) And don’t forget that of these 14 workplace discrimination incidents, not all involved Christians. It would be nice to know how many did and what the actual incidents involved, but the GPA isn’t giving out those details.
Look at the ad at the top of this page again. It was based on 14 unverified reports of workplace discrimination, out of a police population of over 140,000. That’s 0.01% per annum. And again, not all involved Christians.
I think we can label this ad by the Gay Policeman’s Association a clear case of Christian-phobia.
Category: Religion & Faith |