On Sunday morning (10th Jan) I watched the BBC’s Sunday morning debate show, ‘The Big Questions’ on BBC 1 by chance. You can watch it too on the BBC iPlayer if you’re in the UK. The second debate of the morning asked whether people should be honest about their sexuality, quoting the example of the Welsh rugby player Gareth Thomas, who recently came out.
It seemed like an interesting point to debate. I thought we’d get a discussion on the difficulties of coming out for people in the public eye and for gay people in general. However, being a Sunday morning show, religion came into the discussion very early on. After a very eloquent contribution from a gay priest about gay people being allowed to be honest with themselves and the world, the debate degenerated into whether homosexuality was right or wrong. A former magistrate told us that it was wrong according to the Bible, while offering no answers for what gay people are supposed to do. Repress their sexuality? Just ignore it? Or maybe they’re imagining being gay?
Then a gentleman in the audience treated us to a quote from the Bible about how men and women are supposed to marry and become one flesh, something he claims gay people can’t do, however hard they try. Clearly that’s up for debate and he was left looking rather silly by the gay Member of Parliament seated next to him. He was largely undaunted though, going on to claim that heterosexual couples can reproduce, which makes being straight the right way to live (as though all straight couples are having children), only 1% of the population are gay, and that people aren’t born gay, it is brought on in the course of their development. Like a psychological disorder.
The discussion progressed to whether the Anglican church should embrace gay clergy and their gay congregation or not, which was interesting, if you’re into these things. Then we went back to whether gay people should come out or not and the same gentleman in the audience managed to make it sound like if no-one came out there’d be no gay people, since coming out is essential to the gay movement. Which is clearly ridiculous.
The potential for debating these points is of course endless, I don’t need to do it here, and the more homophobic opinions weren’t shared by the majority of the people in the BBC studio which, for balance, included Peter Tatchell, the gay human rights campaigner, who was given the last word.
What I was left thinking about, however, was how easily homophobic views had just been aired on a Sunday morning show. When the racist leader of the British National Party was a guest on ‘Question Time’ a night time political debate show, it caused massive protests outside the BBC studios, egg throwing, and national headlines. Yet two people with clearly homophobic views–people who believe being gay is not valid and is against God–are allowed onto a morning show, undoubtedly watched by all the family, without a whimper of protest. I applaud the BBC for allowing controversial speakers their freedom of speech, which almost always ends in them being shown up as the bigots they are. I wonder though, why racism can motivate the nation to protest, while homophobia is barely noticed?
Is homophobia the last acceptable prejudice? I don’t like to think so, but that show on Sunday morning certainly gave me pause for thought.