Brickbats and bouquets as UK celebrates the decriminalisation of homosexuality
EARLIER this year the BBC announced that it was launching season of programming to mark the 50th anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act 1967, which partially decriminalised homosexual acts that took place in private between two men over the age of 21.
Conservative Christian commentators reacted in various ways to the Gay Britannia season, some grudgingly supporting it and some, like Stephen Green of Christian Voice UK, above, going into meltdown.
On July 27, 50 years to the day after Britain changed the law under which gay and bisexual men could face a maximum sentence of life in prison, Green wrote on his hate-filled website that “the BBC will be unwatchable and unlistenable for a week at least.
“Especially today, all BBC channels will be awash with ‘Gay Britania’ (sic). One can argue the BBC is simply reflecting the Establishment. It is impossible to be a candidate for Labour, the LibDems or the Tories without being a ‘Diversity’ wonk. Plaid Cymru, SNP and Sinn Fein are almost as bad. And anyone Christian or just pro-family in government needs to keep his views to himself.
“Moreover, in the broadcast media, Sky, ITV and Channel 4 news will no doubt be promoting what they will see as a joyous day.”
The deranged bigot continued: “The homosexual mindset is never satisfied. Neither with life as a whole, nor with sexual expression, nor indeed with political gains. It was never enough just to be left alone to do whatever they were going to do in private. As it happens, we all now know rather more than we ever wanted to about what homosexuals do in private. That is largely owing to the AIDS crisis, forcing gay charities like Terrence Higgins Trust to list homosexual activities in order of health risk.
“In 2004 Tony Blair enacted Civil Partnerships. The BBC celebrating that event with footage of happy couples. Nevertheless, civil partnerships were not good enough . . . Therefore, a Conservative Party Prime Minister, David Cameron, inflicted same-sex ‘marriage’ on the nation in 2013. More celebratory BBC footage, this time of gays getting gay-married.
“And now the elite are moving on again. They want to allow anyone, for any reason or none, to change his gender at will. The Government have announced a new ‘Gender Recognition Bill’ for the autumn.”
Green continued: “It is difficult to promote homosexuality politically any more. The activists have achieved virtually everything. Accordingly, the BBC is simply leading today’s celebrations. Of course, reparative therapy offering people a progression out of same-sex attraction is still a target, because the idea there could be something wrong with being homosexual is anathema to the ungodly.
“But one UK institution in particular remains a thorn in the activists’ collective side. The stronger elements of Christianity are still holding out. Homosexuals demand full acceptance from the church. Tolerance is not enough. So our openly-lesbian Education Secretary has demanded churches offer ceremonies for people getting gay-married. According to the Daily Mirror, Justine Greening said: ‘I think it is important that the church in a way keeps up.’”
Despite his insistence that “the BBC will be unwatchable and unlistenable for a week at least” I’m convinced that Green did not miss a single item because he clearly finds the subject utterly irresistible.
In announcing Gay Britannia, the BBC said it would feature “bold and provocative stories that celebrate the LGBTQ community as well as challenging existing preconceptions and prejudices. The season will also cast a fresh light on the history of gay Britain, as well as highlighting just what it means to be gay in Britain today. Contributors include Susan Calman, Andrew Scott, Val McDermid, Olly Alexander, Sandi Toksvig and Simon Callow.”
It is to be congratulated on following through with output ranging from the compelling drama Against the Law, starring Daniel Mays as journalist Peter Wildeblood (who was found guilty of homosexuality in the 1950s, in the explosive Montagu Trial) to the first screen drama from best-selling British novelist Patrick Gale, Man in an Orange Shirt, starring Vanessa Redgrave.
There were also important and timely documentaries such as Is it Safe to Be Gay in the UK? which used testimony and found footage to explore the rise of attacks on lesbian, gay and transgender people.
What Gay Did For Art (BBC Two) celebrated the contribution lesbian and gay people have made to popular culture, the visual arts, literature, theatre and film; while Prejudice and Pride: The People’s History of LGBTQ Britain, presented by Susan Calman and Stephen K Amos on BBC Four, revealed the precious mementos and memorabilia that have changed the lives of LGBTQ people over the last 50 years.
Also on BBC Four, Gluck charted the modern British history of female homosexuality and its representation in culture, literature, fashion and art, through the untold story of the celebrated artist Gluck (Hannah Gluckstein, 1895-1978) who defied her contemporaries’ definitions of gender and sexuality; and Mark Gatiss offered his and other writers’ responses to the 50th anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act in Queers. On BBC Three, Olly Alexander, lead singer of Years and Years and a powerful voice on LGBTQ rights, explored why the gay community is more vulnerable to mental health issues, as he opened up about his own long-term battles with depression in Olly Alexander: Growing Up Gay.
Highlights on BBC radio included Val McDermid presenting Queer Britain on Radio 4, exploring the many ways that the LGBTQ community was accepted, tolerated, despised and ostracised and how this was reflected across culture, society and politics.
On Radio 2, a two-part series celebrated out and proud LGBTQ performers who utilised their sexuality to push boundaries, defining the sound of their generation. On Radio 3, the drama Victim traced the bravery behind the 1961 film of the same name, which was the first English language film to use the word “homosexual”.
Patrick Holland, Channel Controller for BBC Two, said: “This is a rich and compelling set of programmes that challenge us all. This season is a powerful examination of how far we have come – whilst also exploring how much further we have to travel.”