LETTER: Why publish this homophobic rant?

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I DO not understand how you felt it appropriate to publish R.J.M. Loebell’s disgraceful homophobic rant (Valley Views January 17th).

Freedom of speech? Certainly Mr Loebell is entitled to his views, as appalling as they are.

But I don’t think he is entitled to express them in such a literally hateful manner, particularly using the outmoded and demeaning language of “deviancy”. Indeed, I wonder whether he, and you as publisher, might not have breached those laws passed to prevent such public outpourings of malicious bile. Perhaps that should be tested?

Of course, the particular issue of our out-of-touch political classes trying to re-define the ancient concept of marriage is a matter of concern to many. They may have the legal right, but they certainly have no moral right to arbitrarily change the historic concept of marriage as a union between male and female.

Indeed, it would appear that there is only limited enthusiasm for such a change amongst homosexuals themselves, for many of whom the status of “civil partnership” is entirely sufficient.

But concerns about marriage cannot excuse Mr Loebell. What he wrote was simply nasty, and must have been very hurtful to any homosexual readers.

He has only succeeded in displaying his ignorance of homosexuality: at one point even suggesting that “gay marriages” would be “between homosexuals and lesbians”!

And, like many demagogues, he uses the language of religion (“righteousness”, “religious-minded”) to seek to bolster views which would otherwise be construed, correctly, as mindless bigotry.

If he could cope with a considered and mature religious perspective on sexuality, he would do well to study the 2003 discussion document of the Anglican House of Bishops: “Some Issues in Human Sexuality”, where he would read, for example, that “there needs to be continuing work by the Church to combat homophobia and homophobic violence both within the Church (yes – to our shame – there are ‘Mr Loebells’ inside the Church as well) and within society as a whole.”

Even greater depth is provided by “The Anglican Communion and Homosexuality”, edited by Philip Groves, which contains a particularly insightful exegesis of relevant Biblical texts, amongst essays by scientists and specialists in sexual identity.

Of course, I am well aware that Christians differ in their view of homosexuality; but which Christian could disagree with treating “different others” with kindness and respect, because they, too, are loved by God?

The fact is that the vast majority are not “gay” by choice (studies have shown that in a minority of cases there is some element of that and, of course, sexual inclinations can change over time); for most it is simply part of their bio-psychological make-up. So why should they be demonised (Mr Loebell uses the concepts of unnaturalness and deviancy) for something which to them is perfectly normal?

Same-sex attraction is part of what they are as human beings: indeed, Christians would surely have to accept that an innate sexual disposition is “God-given” (who else is Creator?).

In any case, homosexuals do not form a single category to be pigeon-holed for the convenience of Mr Loebell and those who share his abhorrent views, but are as varied and complex as any one of us and, of course, there are many gay people in long-term faithful, loving partnerships the quality of which would put some heterosexual relationships to shame.

Mr Loebell suggests that some may think he is “talking rubbish”. I, for one, believe he was, and I wonder why your readership had to be subjected to it.

REV. CANON DR PETER SHEPHERD,

Clitheroe