Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Homophobic speaker invited to Holyrood

Delighted with the Scottish Greens' co-convenor, Patrick Harvie, for his statement condemning Holyrood's inclusion of Cecil Samuelson in their "Time for Reflection". Whether he said it or not during his address to parliament (he did not), Samuelson nonetheless holds views that are offensive to the 6% of Scots who are LGBT and to many others who support human rights and non-discrimination - not to mention the nine million or so Americans his church try and often succeed in rendering second class citizens. 

In nice large letters on Brigham Young University's "Honor Code" there is specifically a target at "Homosexual Conduct":
"One's stated same-gender attraction is not an Honor Code issue. However, the Honor Code requires all members of the university community to manifest a strict commitment to the law of chastity. Homosexual behavior is inappropriate and violates the Honor Code. Homosexual behavior includes not only sexual relations between members of the same sex, but all forms of physical intimacy that give expression to homosexual feelings."
So basically, show heteroromantic intimacy all you like, homoromantic - no go. Not homophobic at all. Let's not forget that Samuelson was also a loud proponent of California Proposition 22 in 2000, which was the predecessor to 2008's infamous Proposition 8.

However, back to the present. Mr Harvie pointed out to the chamber following Samuelson's departure that the university today's speaker came from was one "willing to ruin the life chances of young people and to force them to live in fear, simply on the grounds of their sexuality."
"Holyrood presiding officer Tricia Marwick told Mr Harvie: "I would remind you that time for reflection contributors are guests of this parliament and should be shown courtesy by all members.
"I think any member who has heard the speech that Professor Samuelson made today would take absolutely no issue with it whatsoever.""
Missing the point somewhat. What is the Scottish Parliament doing inviting someone with anti-progressive, bigoted views any form of platform, in a session such as the TfR? Professor Samuelson may have been there to represent a particular faith, but when what he supports across the pond is contrary to progressive values and to a great number of Scots it is odd that he would be chosen to speak. When the Church of Scotland (roughly 42% of Scots claiming to belong to it) is forward moving enough to bless same-sex partnerships and allows openly gay ministers - though I am well aware there are Presbyterians who do not support these moves - how exactly is it representative of the Scottish population to invite an American speaker who is prominent in a known anti-gay religious faculty? One that would be breaking anti-discrimination laws if it existed in Scotland. I highly doubt a well known racist would be permitted to address parliament as part of TfR - so why a well known homophobe?

The Independent MSP from Lothians, who I have long admired for speaking out on issues such as euthanasia in Scotland, Margo MacDonald also came in slightly later to back up Harvie's statement an action for which she has only risen in my estimation.

Mr Harvie spoke with more respect and courtesy than Samuelson deserved and more respect than Samuelson has ever shown the community Harvie belongs to and has done good work within.

The Scottish Green Party blog post is here, also commenting on Sir Brian Souter.

This post may be edited when I get home. Got to get ready for work.

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