Tory MEP says homophobia “does not exist”

// 10 August 2009

Further to Ella’s post, more evidence of backwardness from the Tories, via Pink News:

Roger Helmer, Conservative MEP for the East Midlands, wrote on his blog: “‘Homophobia’ is merely a propaganda device designed to denigrate and stigmatise those holding conventional opinions, which have been held by most people through most of recorded history.

“It is frightening evidence of the way in which political correctness is threatening our freedom.”

Helmer, who is honorary chairman of the right-wing Freedom Association, added: “It is creating ‘thought crimes’, where merely to hold a conventional opinion is seen, in itself, to be unacceptable and reprehensible. I’m sorry, but I don’t buy it.”

You can read the full blog post here; his rather feeble justification for his assertions is that, etymologically speaking, “homophobia” is an irrational fear of homosexuals, and no one irrationally fears homosexuals, so it’s all a load of cobblers designed to stop people with, um, really reasonable views using said views to inform really, er, progressive, liberating and humanitarian laws such as that banning homosexual marriage. The bastards.

Comments From You

Saranga // Posted 10 August 2009 at 4:37 pm

*RAGE*

Jess McCabe // Posted 10 August 2009 at 4:42 pm

As a general rule of thumb, the defence “I’m not SCARED, I’m just discriminating!” doesn’t convince.

Ann Hiro // Posted 10 August 2009 at 5:31 pm

Whilst Helmer sort of fits the stereotype of the out of touch with reality right winger to a T, this is shocking even by his standards.

Karen // Posted 10 August 2009 at 11:17 pm

So I imagined them teenagers throwing stones at me and my then-girlfriend and calling us paedophiles, dykes and faggots as we walked down the street then. More priviliged wealthy straight berks talking out of their arses, just what the world needs more of.

Lisa Brown // Posted 11 August 2009 at 12:03 am

As much as I am not a socialist and would never vote for a left leaning party, thank you, Laura, for this post, as it may well persuade me not to vote tory.

Government should have no say in these matters, gay marriage and adoption etc. Everyone should have equal rights.

Where’s a decent libertarian party when you need one?

SnowdropExplodes // Posted 11 August 2009 at 12:21 am

::dives into Godwin waters superquick::

By analogy, in Germany throughout the 19th and early 20th Century, anti-Semitism was a “conventional opinion” held by many.

Heck, support for slavery has been a conventional opinion more often than not throughout history – maybe we should say it’s acceptable for people to advocate slavery in Britain, too, on those grounds?

That’s the thing about “conventional opinions” – they change over time. Sometimes even for the better! (Like anti-Semitism no longer being acceptable, and slavery being outlawed). Poor Mr Helmer just doesn’t like that his opinions are going the way of those other ones!

sianmarie // Posted 11 August 2009 at 12:36 pm

head hit desk and all that. why are people thinking the tories have changed huh?

however, the idea that homophobia (and racism and sexism) no longer exists is surprisingly widespread. i did a course at uni on gay history and literature, and was shocked by the number of students who didn’t see homophobia as a problem. one student even cited will and grace as an example of how we aren’t a homophobic society. i asked her whether it was because she personally didn’t know anyone who was openly homophobic and it seemed like this was the reason.

i think because we tend to surround ourselves with people who think similarly to ourselves (e.g. i am not friends with anyone who is racist, sexist or homophobic), and you are not directly on the receiving end of such prejudice/hate then it is easy to slip into the utopic world where these issues don’t exist. however they most certainly do. and we have to make a noise about these problems and remind people that the problems exist. if we go around thinking we live in non prejudice land, then we will never be able to change the prejudice,

hence why sites liek the f word are so good/helpful – they create conversation about problems that exist and need to be profiled.

Hannah Boast // Posted 11 August 2009 at 12:44 pm

Thanks Snowdrop, you beat me to it. What on earth was he trying to say by using the phrase ‘conventional opinion’? He’s not even correct when he says that stigmatising gay people has been a ‘conventional opinion’ throughout history. History abounds with examples of societies that accepted or even promoted homosexuality, the most obvious example being Ancient Greece – perhaps Helmer would respond that it was so long ago that this ‘conventional opinion’ is no longer relevant, but since we take so much else from Greek society he’d be talking rubbish, and adding an ad hoc distinction to his very flimsily constructed idea of a ‘conventional opinion’.

Looks like ‘conventional opinion’ on the f word has decided he’s talking nonsense, but unfortunately for us all, it’s eloquent and harmful nonsense.

Anne Onne // Posted 11 August 2009 at 1:13 pm

Wow, you’d think people would do less b bragging about holding opinions that date back ‘through most of recorded history’. I certainly wouldn’t brag about thinking the Earth is flat, or that everything orbits the Earth. People used to burn witches and all the things Snowdrop Explodes mentioned. Yet one wouldn’t argue that, conventional as it might have been centuries ago, belief that old women with cats are evil witches who should be burned at the stake, should be something we should encourage today.

Someone ages ago having held an opinion, doesn’t make it a defensible opinion in itself. I just love how it’s always the backwards bigots who feel the need to cry ‘free speech!!!’ and ‘thought crimes!!!!!!’ as if by disagreeing with them one is somehow magically denying them a voice. If that was the case, they wouldn’t have plenty of newspapers espousing their views, or feel able to rant about it at work or in the pub or on the street or to the nice gay couple they had just met, because they would have been CENSORED or ARRESTED or somesuch. The disconnect with reality that allows so many people to spout views that basically boil down to ‘everyone not like me sucks/should be left to die’ (delete as applicable) yet don’t really face any real persecution for this, and yet claim that they are being magically silenced if someone disagrees with them or actually engages in a debate that points out their non-arguments must truly be great.

I just don’t get his point. Since when is it not OK to think an opinion is reprehensible? It’s not like disagreeing magically means one can control another person’s thoughts or actions!

I’m sure there are plenty of opinions he finds reprehensible, and plenty of people he thinks espouse such opinions, or he wouldn’t be ranting about people not respecting his sacred opinions. Well, an opinion isn’t a sacred thing, your right to think something (yours though it is), does not mean that this opinion itself can’t be questioned or criticised.

This is not a personal attack, nor is it an attack on freedom of speech. It’s evidence of equally important freedom of speech: freedom to criticise an expressed opinion. He gets to whinge about Political Correctness gone mad, we get to whinge about bigots gone mad. You can’t keep freedom of speech for yourself to criticise other people’s opinions and then whinge when someone criticises yours, it’s acting like a spoiled kid. You might think their opinion is wrong and stupid, they might think yours is wrong or stupid, and that’s that. You talk, you try to persuade each other, if it doesn’t succeed you both think you’re right anyway. It’s infantile to expect anyone who disagrees with your opinion to not think strongly about it, or express their opinion, especially if it’s about you wanting to take their rights away.

HarpyMarx // Posted 11 August 2009 at 2:47 pm

But it is the ‘conventional opinions’ that unnerve me, trying to create this acceptable form of bigotry, which the Tories are trying to do. This is all very very scary and we will be entering scary times if and when these bigoted b’stards get elected. Will we see another Section 28? They are emphasising the role of the hetero nuclear family with patriarchal father figure at helm with this ‘broken society’ bilge, women in traditional roles and sexual division of labour.

And the Freedom Association… that is one scummy right-wing vile organisation, it was involved in appalling dirty tricks during the Grunwick strike amongst other things.

polly styrene // Posted 11 August 2009 at 8:57 pm

The Pew global attitudes survey – see

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Societal_attitudes_toward_homosexuality

found that 71% of people in Britain thought ‘homosexuality should be accepted by society.

While the British Social attitudes survey showed that only 1 in 5 of those surveyed thought homosexuality was always wrong.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2008/jan/23/socialtrends

So he’s talking crap when he says that his opinions are ‘conventional’ anyway.

Dorothy // Posted 12 August 2009 at 9:10 pm

You have to laugh, otherwise you’d cry. It’s often the case that people that are homophobic simply don’t recognise that they are, for example, “I’ve nothing against gay people, I’ve got gay mates, but GAY MARRIAGE?!? ADOPTION?!? THATS SICK! Their kids will be freaks, blah blah blah…” Maybe we should just revert back to the kitchen sink. Frankly I’m feeling rather uncomfortable with this technology of the internet. I could do with popping out a child and supporting the nuclear family.

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