Gay Rights – two steps forward, one step back

The debate about gay marriage was thrown back to the front of the media queue this weekend when Dr John Sentamu,Archbishop of York Archbishop of York, said that the government shouldn’t legislate to over ride the bible. This raised a few issues for me internally.

Firstly, I’ve always had a sense of admiration for the Archbishop of York. I’ve always seen him as a fair human being. He was born in Uganda and rose to become the 2nd highest clergyman in the Church of England. Now, whether I agree with his views on religion or not, I share with him a right to equality and a passion to further the rights of the section of society I align to.

Sadly though, the Archbishop has forgotten his own past it seems. Now that he’s in his position, he feels he has the right to prevent another section of society driving for equality.

The other thing that this story has done is to highlight one area where I agree with the government. Although the Prime LetmemarrywhoiloveMinister isn’t calling for full gay marriage rights, he does seem to be pushing further reform to bring further equalisation. I’d, obviously, like to see full equalisation but it’s difficult not to note the change in thinking amongst some from the Thatcher years. Saying that though, political scoring at the expense of those who don’t have full equality is a favourite past time for any politician.

The other story to present itself this weekend about gay equality was the piece on the BBC news site by Amal Fashanu, niece of the late Justin Fashanu. Justin was the only openly gay professional footballer until he took his ownJustin Fashanau life in 1998 after being wrongly accused of sexual assault. Since then there hasn’t been a single professional footballer who has taken the step to ‘come out’. How can we expect younger people to grow up with open minds when they see stories opposing full equalisation, but the role models they adore don’t feel safe being who they are?

Interestingly, as I have been writing this, another story appeared on the news. This time it relates to the United Nations telling the African Union that they should work towards decriminalisation of homosexuality. Contained in the story is a reminder that the US and UK have indicated that they’ll use international aid money as a tool to leverage the situation and push African states to decriminalisation. We all know that the more we try to tell people how to do things, the more they’ll turn the other way. And, in Africa, that means a turn towards China, not widely known for its great human rights record.

So, as much as people think that gay rights and equality has come a long way, it’s got a much longer way to go. And, for anyone who thinks it’s not a pressing issue due to the advances under the Labour government, it’s time to look at this on a much wider basis. As much as this is a political issue, it’s alsoan economical one.