Tuesday, 2 February 2016

When the DUP quote Peter Thatchell...

Peter Thatchell[s comment piece in the Guardian has suddenly started to appear in DUP politicians time lines. When this starts to happen you know that something is seriously wrong with what he has said.

It is not so much the fact that he has changed his opinion on the Ashers case. Nor that his comments on that case are based on a lack of knowledge the various laws that the judge made judgement on and indeed gloss over the depths of the evidence that were cited in the judicial review.

No what the DUP are picking up on is the points that Thatchell is making about political discrimination and freedom of expression. They are turning these into the appearance that their views are the victim of political discrimination and that they are facing a limit on their freedom of expression. Both issues that negate the fact that only their MLAs have to step forward together to prevent political movement of any kind and indeed was used to block the last vote on marriage equality when a majority were in favour.

What Peter Thatchell fails toe recognise in his comment piece about Northern Ireland is the level of comments that LGBT+ people in Northern Ireland can be the equivalent to what the rest of the UK heard in the mid 80s. These comments are almost repeated daily on our radios, certainly regularly within our hearing, and often from people who are family friends or even members of our families (nuclear or extended).

Some of the ideas that some people in Northern Ireland have about LGBT+ people should be unlawful, the fact that some of those ideas have oil heaped on their flames by the party that is now quoting Thatchell should be worrying. They are jumping on the fact that a gay rights campaigner thinks they should be allowed to espouse their ideas, to ignore the ideas of those seeking equality. That they will use his comments to protect people against discrimination as as means to allow homophobes to be able to avoid promoting ideas with which they disagree. In so doing he has given a rally cry for the DUP's call to bring in a conscience clause to protect businesses. I know this was not his intention but less than 24 hours in that is what is happening.

So in conclusion I'd like to thank Peter Thatchell for putting LGBT+ equality in Northern back a little this week by not thinking of the implication that stating those views in the way that he did will have to the fight for equality in Northern Ireland.

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