Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Subtle headline? Nah. Bigots defeated!

Lilian Ladele – hypocrite and bigot.
Occasionally, things happen in life that make you go: ‘good!’ And today was a day when that reaction was entirely apt.

On the way to work this morning, I noticed that judgement was due today from the European Court of Human Rights in the cases of four UK people who claimed to have been discriminated against on the grounds of their Christian beliefs.

Goodness – how was it going to go?

In the cases of Nadia Eweida and Shirley Chaplin it was a sort of one-all draw. One won, one lost.

Both involved the respective employers’ responses to a member of staff wearing a cross at work. Both are slightly more complex than the boss simply saying: ‘Oh, you can’t wear a cross/crucifix at work’, but generally, neither of the outcomes or cases are really important in terms of general human rights.

For the sake of clarity, I don't care about what jewelry people wear – whether it's religious or not. I'm personally not remotely 'offended' by people wearing a cross or a star of David or a St Christopher or a crescent or even a swastika.

And, as I've said before, nobody has – or should have – a right not to be offended. 

But the other two cases were quite different.

Lillian Ladele was a registrar in Islington in north London. Way back in 2004, when civil partnerships were introduced for same-sex couples, she decided to say that she wouldn’t conduct them because they were against her won beliefs.

Until 2007, she was employed on something like a freelance basis and she’d swap with colleagues to avoid what she disliked.

But when the council changed her employment status, that was not possible and, hey ho hum, she lost her job.

The first employment tribunal found that in her favour, on the basis that the employer had not gone about things in the right way.

At appeal, this was overturned – the appeal actually found that she was demanding to be discriminated in favour of, over and above her colleagues.

Now, the European Court of Human Rights has judged that she was not discriminated against.

The second particularly important case involved Gary McFarlane, who decided that he’d have problems counseling any of those gays, and was subsequently sacked.

Anyway, the European Court of Human Rights also judged that he had not been discriminated against.

Part of the fun in all this is the sheer amount of hypocrisy involved.

Ladele, for instance, is an unmarried, single mother.

Now personally, I’d never have a dig at that. But if you’re going to whinge and whine about what the Bible says and what you should be excluded from on that basis, then it’s a damned good idea to make sure that you yourself haven’t got any such skeletons in the personal closet, so to speak.

And, y’know, the Bible isn’t great on umarried, single mothers.

Ladele has also presided over the marriages of heterosexual couples who just happen to have been divorced and/or adulterous, and/or preggers – and goodness knows what else. But hey; all that’s okay, even though her 'holy' book says otherwise – it’s only a problem when blokes stick their dicks into each other’s bottoms.

Nadia Nweida: 'I'm going to strangle myself with my cross'
Or, presumably, when girlies shove their fists up each other’s fannies.

And there are entirely similar comments that can be made against McFarlane, who apparently had no problem with giving advice to unmarried couples that were shagging – just as long as they were straight.

If I sound a bit sarcy, it’s for a reason.

These are bigoted hypocrites – and what combination could be more bloody irritating.

But it’s a case of: ‘wah, wah: my religious sensibilities are all offended!’

Well, screw you, frankly. My sensibilities are offended by bigots like you: bigots who are usually intellectual imbeciles that can rarely create something remotely like a coherent argument.

But do I go to law to demand that you are not allowed to speak or work ­– or marry? No! I do not.

Because you know what? I don’t believe that anyone has a right not to be offended.

And I do actually believe in free speech.

And I also believe that no one set of beliefs gets to trump another – and a belief that is, ultimately chosen, most certainly does not get to usurp something that is innate.

For goodness sake, there is no evidence that sexuality is chosen, but religion most certainly is.

Okay, even when someone has been indoctrinated in a religion as a child (as I was), it is still ultimately possible to get over it and make a choice.

If you want to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of the garden, then that’s absolutely fine – and I know it's a cliché, but I'll defend your right to do so.

But do not try to pretend that that is for a reason other than for denying others their fairly basic rights.

I should just hasten to add that this is only an issue with some religious people – and not even just some Christian people. Homophobic bigotry and hypocrisy is most certainly not limited to any one religion.

But this has been a good day – and frankly, I feel a bit like laughing at hypocritical, gullible people who apparently think that the world owes them more respect thabn anyone else, just because they believe in an imaginary friend.

Yay hey! Today at least, we won.

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