Monday, 15 August 2011

Who do you think you are kidding Mr Walker?

The above sign off  or something similar on a email was what was described by Bill Walker MSP (who had already caused a furore over his comments) as "as quite intimidating actually because ... it reminded me of the pre-war Nazi-type stuff banning things." It is a comment that he has since withdrawn saying it was "intemperate".

However the fact that looking to end homophobia, which is what a cross through the word homophobia would clearly convey as anything akin to Nazism is a sign of an out of touch person, sadly this one is sitting in Holyrood. Surely looking at ending a negative and hateful human attitude cannot be same as promoting one? Yet that is what his original statement would have implied.

The problem that the MSP for Dunfermline had in his original comments was that he went on to say:

"It sort of reminded me, I've seen the old films of people, you know, having marks painted on them and all sort of symbols. I just think it is pretty awful."

 I agree with Mr Walker that the marks and symbols painted on people and their homes by the Nazis was not just pretty awful but a damn disgrace. These were later used in the concentration camps to designate the types of prisoner the Yellow Star on the Jews, the Purple Triangle for Jehovah's Witnesses, the Brown Triangle for Romany travellers and of course the Pink Triangle for homosexuals.

It seems a pity that Mr Walker should associate a campaign to end one type of such prejudice with the people who most notoriously prosecuted that prejudice to the point of putting into concentration camps.There were 100,000 who at times from 1933 wore the pink triangle. 10,000 of these were interred in concentration camps of whom 6,000 perished. Maybe Mr Walker should read about that rather that just garnering information from old films, Heinz Heger's The Men with the Pink Triangle would be a good place to start.

The problem did not end there though. After the liberation of the camps many of those marked with a pink triangle were still imprisoned as the Nazi change in the law from a minor offence to a felony still stood on the statute books of the liberated Federal Republic of Germany for some time. Not until 1969 where these laws repelled in the FDR, it wasn't until 1988 they were revoked in the DDR.

Mr Walker is quite correct that such a comment in 'intemperate' especially in light of the history of those who were marked with the pink triangle. However, Germany managed to change their laws, at least for those over 21, in 1969. While England and Wales benefited from the Sexual Offences Act (1967), the gay community in Scotland had to wait until the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 1980 to get the same rights*. Therefore the Germans managed to decriminalise homosexual acts long before the Scots did.

As for the debate on equal marriage Walker has said:

"It is important that this debate is conducted in measured terms, and I have therefore withdrawn the intemperate comment made by me. I will be commenting dispassionately from now on."

I couldn't agree more. I hope he does some reading up on the matter so that he is well informed before it comes into the chamber. Maybe he can meet some of those groups that are campaigning for equal marriage and hear their views and maybe even engage with some of the LGB Christian Groups to hear their views. 

* Two years before Northern Ireland.

No comments:

Post a Comment