If I was a gay/bi teenage liberal just coming to terms with my sexuality, reading some of the stuff posted by defenders of Tim Farron would probably be enough to send me scuttling back in to the closet.
So to them I want to be very, very clear: homosexuality is not a sin. It is a not a "condition", let alone one that requires other's compassion. It is not a "second-best" option. It is not inferior. The quality of love between two men (I can't speak for others but I'm sure it is also the same between two women) is not one iota less than that between a man and a woman.
I've seen Lib Dems suggest a Christian's distaste to homosexuality to be akin to most people's distaste for heroin users. I.e. "I believe in the right of someone to inject themselves with heroin but I think it is bad for them and I'd argue that they shouldn't". Well isn't that a beautiful message to send out to young gay and bi people? "You have the right to do what you do, but it's a sin!"
My love for my other half is NOT equivalent in anyway to the love a heroin user has for a needle. And I will not sit silently by whilst that sort of message is sent out to vulnerable young people.
Now Tim Farron hasn't said the above, thankfully, so I'm only directing about 10% of my anger at him for his failure to be clearer. I am disturbed though by those defending the concept of believing homosexuality is a sin.
Some have said "We're liberals, we should support people holding beliefs we find objectionable as long as they harm no one else". Totally agree. But I wouldn't want someone who thinks Africans are an inferior race leading a party I was a member of, regardless of the fact he supports their equality 100% in his public life.
A disturbing number of people, both heterosexual and other, seem to accept the idea that homosexuality "isn't ideal". They very much support our rights and freedoms. But in their heart of hearts they really do not accept us.
My message to LGBT young people is this... THERE IS NOTHING SINFUL ABOUT LOVING SOMEONE OF THE SAME GENDER. Nothing. Not one thing. Our love is not inferior to anybody else's . We must never forget that.
Sunday, 19 July 2015
Saturday, 18 July 2015
11 years have come and gone so quickly. Yet those happy days supporting Peter Carroll for Folkestone and Hythe and getting excited about a visit from Charles Kennedy seem like a lifetime ago.
My membership came up for renewal a couple of weeks back. I put off renewing until after payday for entirely practical reasons. I had been on a bit of a "Lib Dem high" of late with the Lib Dem fightback rhetoric and the prospect of a new leader. I even decided to defend my choice for leader, Tim Farron, from some attacks on his record on same-sex marriage.
How quickly my mood can change. I must be very fickle. But in the wake of his interview with Cathy Newman on Channel 4, I can no longer force myself to give Tim Farron the benefit of the doubt. I'd done that after serious concerns before and this... this is the straw that broke the camel's back.
If someone asked me "Do you think practicing Christianity is stupid?", I'd say no. So I'm not really sure I share others nuanced views of Farron's inability to answer a similar question about homosexuality and sin. I get the theological arguments. I get that "it's complicated" probably is a good answer for a short interview and expressing his views might take forever. But really, ultimately, it is a yes or no question. The fact he couldn't answer broke my liberal heart. How different things are under Farron than under Clegg...
But far worse than his interview has been watching Lib Dems engage in theological and philosophical debates over homosexuality, stretching partisan apologia into the realms of Christian apologists. This just isn't the party I thought it was. I got it wrong, I'm sure the party is the same as ever.
As some have said "Well you didn't mind Kennedy?". I didn't. But I thought the way Clegg dealt with religion and sexuality was a breath of fresh air. I've been spoilt and obviously ruined.
I'd say one of my personal fundamental red lines is "homosexuality is not a sin". I cannot follow a man who believes otherwise or refuses to take a stand on that stance. Thus I won't be renewing my lapsed membership. I hope, for this country's sake, the Lib Dems prosper and flourish under Tim Farron's leadership. I see no other party even close to matching my political beliefs. But I won't be there to prosper along side you.