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Friday, 23 October 2009

Let's kick homophobia into touch

Jan Moir, a columnist for the Daily Mail, this week found herself at the centre of controversy after penning what is, to all intents and purposes, a deeply homophobic interpretation of the death of Boyzone's Stephen Gately.

In her piece, "A strange, lonely and troubling death", she pours scorn on the facts surrounding Mr Gately's death, labelling the circumstances as "sleazy" and insisting that "Gately's death...strikes another blow to the happy-ever-after myth of civil partnerships". She suggests that civil partnerships are simply not "the same" as heterosexual marriages and asserts that Mr Gately's "dangerous lifestyle" caused his sad death.

Why is it reasonable to suggest that one young man's death "strikes a blow" to civil partnerships? Would she suggest that the untimely death of a married heterosexual person strikes a blow to the institution of marriage? Of course not. Would she ever make poorly-researched assumptions about the moral value of marriage? No, thought not.

She also managed to have a pop at the relationship between Matt Lucas and his former partner Kevin McGee, who also died recently. Apart from the disgusting lack of respect for the recently deceased, the article highlighted the sad fact that homophobia and socially divisive prejudices are still there and need to be challenged.

Moir's piece was nasty, cruel, prejudiced and woefully inaccurate. Such crude homophobia has no place in a civilised society, let alone in the pages of a supposedly respectable newspaper. Sadly, she is not alone in her views, as evidenced by recent homophobic attacks. While great strides have been made in recent years gay people still experience prejudice and intolerance.

It's time for society to kick homophobia into touch. It should become as socially unacceptable as racism. Society needs to accept the challenge that the likes of Jan Moir have laid down: reject homophobia and intolerance. For ever.

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