Tory MEP makes ‘turn’ homosexuals remark


6:05 pm - January 16th 2011

by Sunny Hundal    


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This was Tory MEP Roger Helmer a few hours ago on Twitter:

Why is it OK for a surgeon to perform a sex-change operation, but not OK for a psychiatrist to try to “turn” a consenting homosexual?

Several hundred people on Twitter have since condemned Helmer for his homophobia.

But Roger Helmer MEP has a long history of such nonsense.

A couple of years ago Helmer said that the word homophobia was a “propaganda device”. He wrote on his blog:

And while we’re mentioning semantic issues, let me point out that the neologism “homophobia” is not so much a word as a political agenda. In psychiatry, a phobia is defined as an irrational fear. I have yet to meet anyone who has an irrational fear of homosexuals, or of homosexuality. So to the extent that the word has any meaning at all, it describes something which simply does not exist.

“Homophobia” is merely a propaganda device designed to denigrate and stigmatise those holding conventional opinions, which have been held by most people through most of recorded history. It is frightening evidence of the way in which political correctness is threatening our freedom.

Mr Helmer is regularly allowed to spout his views on websites such as ConservativeHome.

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Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


Hmmm. I do think the words homophobia and transphobia separate discrimination against LGBT people from the ‘isms’ like racism and sexism. Ultimately ‘gayism’, ‘homoism’ and ‘transism’ don’t roll off the tongue very well, I suppose.

I suppose it depends whether the homosexual who wishes to become a heterosexual is acting voluntarily and isn’t doing so due to social pressure.

@BenB: homophobia is a form of sexism perhaps?

“Why is it OK for a surgeon to perform a sex-change operation, but not OK for a psychiatrist to try to “turn” a consenting homosexual?”

It’s an interesting question regardless of the source. Why do we view it as desirable that some people should undergo what in any other circumstances would be an horrific mutilation but not that we should make changes to someone’s mind in a particular way? A lot of historical and cultural influences go into the views we hold, (on both sides), and I doubt that there is any clear cut answer.

“Mr Helmer is regularly allowed to spout his views on websites such as ConservativeHome.”

Please claim your “Ban Free Speech” badge and cap Sunny.

5. the a&e charge nurse

[4] I agree with Falco it is a very interesting question – Sunny, are you saying that it is impermissible to ask such a question, or just for RH to ask it (presumably because he is tainted by anti-gay comments in the past)?

Having said that I very much doubt a person’s sexual preference can be reconditioned by psychological means even if that is what both the individual and health professional are doing their best to achieve?

@3. John

Riki Wilchins has argued repeatedly that much homophobia stems from a hatred of stereotyped, “inappropriate” gendered behaviour so possibly it is a form of sexism.

For all their attempts to pink-wash their policies, there’s still a strong streak of old-fashioned bigotry alive and well in the Conservative front benches.

David Cameron at PMQs (8 December) avoided answering a question from Jack Dromey with a widely quoted joke, the transphobic punchline of which saw less press:

I have to say that the hon. Gentleman has the unique qualification of being one of the brothers who was selected on an all-women shortlist—next time he comes in he should dress properly.”

A few week’s later on 22 December George Osborne saw fit to liken a gay shadow minister to a “pantomime dame.”

These are the kind of casually offensive jokes that could only exist in a boys club atmosphere where (even if they accept that there are some good gays) homosexuality, transsexuality and transvestitism are still regarded as fair targets, one in which women are seen as inferior and men are to be ridiculed if their behaviour is not suitably masculine.

Tory Arse “Homophobia” is merely a propaganda device designed to denigrate and stigmatise those holding conventional opinions, which have been held by most people through most of recorded history”

And “conventional opinions” is right wing political correctness for “I am a raging bigot.”

Always good when tories back up my brownshirt claim.

@5. the a&e charge nurse

I can’t speak for Sunny’s intentions but from my point of view even if the question was not asked by a man with a public record for making rather dubious statements about homosexuality then whichever way you interpret it (either that it is wrong to offer sex-reassignment surgery or that it is acceptable to “turn” homosexuals) the statement is offensive.

Try reading the tortuous logic he uses to deny that he is homophobic in this article from his blog if you want an insight into his world view:

http://rogerhelmermep.wordpress.com/2009/07/19/poles-take-some-stick/

You really believe that his remarks are homophobic? Wow.

@7. sally

And “conventional opinions” is right wing political correctness for “I am a raging bigot.”

Put that on a t-shirt, I’ll buy one 🙂

@9. Dirk

You really believe they’re not? Wow.

12. the a&e charge nurse

[8] thanks Tim – I can see that when certain people ask certain types of question there is a fair amount of baggage likely to arouse suspicion.

This moron seems to have a gay fetish. Why does he need to keep returning to this issue?……… Guilty secret?

I have to laugh at his “consent “ claim. I think we know the type of consent he is really talking about. State sponsored consent , when the people of “conventional opinion” get to intimidate gays and ‘encourage’ them to ‘turn’ themselves into straight people.

Another bit of the fake veneer of Cameron’s tory party peels away.

Never trust a man who can’t even find a decent resolution image of their beloved union jack for their crappy blog.
http://rogerhelmermep.wordpress.com/

Someone buy the guy a nice anal vibe, he’s dying of frustration.

@11. Tim Hardy

The man may well be, but the opinions reproduced in the post are not, infact his point about the use of the term as propaganda is absolutely spot on.

@12. the a&e charge nurse

Thank you. Context is important.

Sex reassignment surgery (SRS) is not something undertaken lightly by anyone and there are serious questions to be asked about whether it is always the most appropriate treatment for an individual who (in the language of the medical establishment) is “suffering” as a result of “gender dysphoria.” There are also dozens of other open questions including ones around the negative effects of the legal requirement for a genderqueer identity to be pathologised in order to receive “treatment” and about how early in life one should be allowed to start treatment.

So, yes, of course one can debate these issues but I really do not believe that this tweet was ever meant to be a serious engagement with any of them. I suspect that the unwritten assumption of this tweet is that SRS is wrong but that doesn’t change my outrage if I’m wrong about that because of the way he says if SRS is right, then turning homosexuals should be ok.

The idea of “turning” “consenting homosexuals” belongs to the era where homosexuality was seen as a psychiatric illness. “Reparative” or “conversion therapy” is nothing more than religious ideology and conservative political propaganda masquerading as junk science.

17. Cynical/Realist?

There are some other questions to ask before RH’s question.

Why would a gay man want to be ‘straightened out’ unless society is negative towards being gay? If gay people weren’t faced with daily prejudice at work, at play, in services and in such issues such as adoption why would they feel so negative about being gay they needed counselling to be straight?

Can a psychiatrist with any success help a gay man/woman be straight, or is this simply going to store up some severe and profound issues to come rushing out later in life?

When a gay person goes to the psychiatrist as a consenting patient, is this from his own mental processes or from pressure from family and friends (even setting aside the wider society issues)?

That we live in the real world and the situation for gay people isn’t going to change overnight, there is a legitimate question as to whether a gay person can’t, of their (truly) own volition decide that life brings more negativity than they want to take on, should they be free to try to have their sexuality changed? I’d argue its a free world. But I’d very much hope anyone calling themselves a psychiatrist would spend a considerable amount of time counselling the person first to see if they can come to terms with themselves first as the overwhelmingly best option.

Lastly, as a side note, RH accuses the world of hypocrisy in allowing sex-change, but attacking sexuality-change. His past comments show instead he would (if he could get away with it) simply swap that around and ban sex change while allowing sexuality-change.

So he can fuck off.

@15. Dirk

Just to clarify, you are saying that you agree with his statement:

In psychiatry, a phobia is defined as an irrational fear. I have yet to meet anyone who has an irrational fear of homosexuals, or of homosexuality. So to the extent that the word has any meaning at all, it describes something which simply does not exist. “Homophobia” is merely a propaganda device designed to denigrate and stigmatise those holding conventional opinions, which have been held by most people through most of recorded history.

@18. Tim Hardy

Indeed, and you dont?

Ive always thought it was one of the more obvious examples of politically manipulated semantics. Every other ‘-phobia’ clearly has scientific origins, homophobia does not as clearly it makes no sense scientifically.

Tim “The idea of “turning” “consenting homosexuals” belongs to the era where homosexuality was seen as a psychiatric illness.”

Yes, which is interesting because our tory arse talks about “psychiatry.” And he has already told us that he is someone of “conventional opinions.” which basicaly sees homosexuality, as a psychiatric illness.

Shorter tory….”If we would only let people like me hate the gay more, they will start turning themselves into straights to stop the hate.”

“conventional opinions, which have been held by most people through most of recorded history.”

Women being 2nd class citizens, the lightness of your skin being an indicator of how good a person you are, and yeah, people having an antipathy towards gay fok – all conventional opinions that thank christ the majority of thinking people no longer hold.

Helmer is a clear homophobic scumbag & this latest tweet is no surprise. Whether it’ll be enough to get him sacked by Cameron is a different matter.

For those crying about free speech – this pathetic bigot is free to join UKIP or the BNP, but his opinions have no place in a major political party, particularly not one that is in charge of running the country.

@ 20. sally

There are more gay mps in the tories than in any other party, and i think maybe even both other parties combined.

@19. Dirk

Absolutely not. To be honest, I’m surprised that anyone could hold the view you both espouse and not see it as self-evidently ridiculous.

Ive always thought it was one of the more obvious examples of politically manipulated semantics. Every other ‘-phobia’ clearly has scientific origins, homophobia does not as clearly it makes no sense scientifically.

First of all, what do you mean by scientific origins? Do you mean that it is empirically verifiable? I can’t see any interpretation of your words that makes sense. Second, what do you mean by “no sense scientifically”? Do you mean linguistically?

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) defines homophobia as “an extreme and irrational aversion to homosexuality and homosexual people.” The root is homo(sexual) + -phobia. I suspect that you think the Greek ?????, phóbos, means “fear” but actually it’s more complicated that that: its meaning is closer to “fear or flight”. You may not be scared of homosexuals but that doesn’t mean you are not homophobic, that you don’t have an extreme and irrational aversion to them.

Moreover, denying the word means what everyone (including the OED) takes it to mean is one thing: are you denying that homophobia as a social practice of actively discriminating against gay women and men exists? Stop hiding behind words. If you think that homosexuality is wrong, at least have the courage of your convictions and stand up and say that.

As for “conventional opinions, which have been held by most people through most of recorded history”

(1) “conventional opinions” are not neutral. They’re a product of a particular society at a particular point in history. The word “conventional” itself is propaganda because it normalises those views.

The right of every white man to own a black slave was a “conventional opinion” in America before abolition.

The fact that women should not be allowed to vote was “conventional opinion” before universal adult suffrage.

Are those eternal truths? Are “racism” or “sexism” propaganda terms used to attack “conventional opinions” that slavery is fine and a woman shouldn’t worry her pretty little head about voting?

(2) “held by most people through most of recorded history”

I suspect you’ll find that Classical Greek and Roman societies, to name just two examples, had a much more relaxed attitude towards same-sex relationships. Christian-dominated Europe is the historical anomaly but if you want to engage in the same kind of lawyerly pedantry that Helmer uses, I’m sure you could argue that there are more “records” from recent history and try and claim that matters but I suspect you won’t be convincing many people with that.

@19 There are instances where gay men have been murdered once the perpetrator discovered said person was gay. Often in horrifically violent ways. The attack can be sudden, unprovoked and utterly irrational. Seems to fit the bill of a phobia to me, hell there’s numerous instances in US of defence attorneys attempting the “gay panic” defence with a nod and wink toward it being a manifest phobia.

I’m sure Hitler and Stalin thought they had “conventional opinions” about gays too.

So happy that this tory arse wipe is proud to be on a par with them.

All very interesting stuff Tim.

I concede that i may well be wrong on the words etymology, and as ’24.Cylux’ states, perhaps there are rare instances where its use does fall within the definition you plucked from the OED.

However i would still strongly contend that its modern day use, as we understand it, does not fall within that definition, and is used almost without exception as a term of political propaganda.

I dont see how a disliking of gay people is in any way different from racist attitudes, or xenophobic attitudes, religious sectarianism or even hatred for rival football supporters. It is just factionalism, nothing more than that. And what about those whos disapproval of gay practices comes from religious convictions? It is an opinion based on a considered interpretation of their faith, no matter how loopy we might find it.

The incorrect use of a scientific sounding word to denounce those you disagree with, to give the impression of academic gravity to your political ideal can be nothing other than propagandist, you must be able to see that?

Im not sure why you digress on the issue of ‘conventional opinions’, no one suggested they were unalienable truths, just that they were conventional opinions and that the word had been used as a propaganda tool against it. I dont see any need to argue against that point.

27. Daniel Factor

The guy’s clearly a twat.

We can get ourselves into a lather of outrage but surely it’s giving him too much thought.

I though we had all come to recognise by now that psychiatric treatment was the incorrect method for curing homosexuality.

“The Observer newspaper has today claimed that Philippa Stroud, a Conservative candidate likely to win the Sutton and Cheam at this week’s general election founded a church that purported to ‘cure’ gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people through exorcising their ‘demons’ through prayer.”
http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2010/05/02/tory-candidate-and-david-cameron-family-advisor-ran-church-that-cured-homosexuality-through-prayer-and-clearing-demons/

You’re all entirely misunderstanding his point. Someone who undergoes sex reassignment therapy feels they’ve been born the wrong gender. And yet if someone feels they’ve been born the wrong sexuality you all think it’s the result of prejudice? If you feel that being homosexual is not something people (on the whole) choose to be you must feel it’s primarily biologically determined, just like gender. You see nothing wrong with affirming someone’s right to choose their gender, but even the suggestion of this being equated with someone choosing their sexuality gets you all in a tissy.

I don’t think anyone here has really reflected on why this is.

@26. Dirk

So, Dirk, do you personally discriminate against and verbally abuse gay women and men or do you just support the right of others to do so?

30. Tim Hardy

Im sorry id never have engaged you in conversation had i known you were so right on.

Are you presuming that because i recognise crude propaganda when i see it, and that i have some objection to the use of semantics to manipulate others opinions that i am in someway a gayist?

Maybe it works like that in your 6th form common room, but in the real world things are a little more complex, and the lines between -ism’s a little less well defined.

Is it really a big deal that a Tory MEP isn’t that enlightened about homosexuality?
Most people in the world aren’t. I thought that multi-culturalism also meant taking people as they are to a degree, and not worrying about thier foibles and weaknesses that much.
That a Tory politician hasn’t moved far from the time when Section 28 was a law of the land, doesn’t seem to me to be worth talking about really.

@29

The problem with your supposition is that a person suffering from gender dysphoria will have a deep-seated knowledge that the gender they feel they are within is not reflected physically. For those that present with the condition at a level where transitioning is recommended this isn’t just a belief, it is hard-wired into who they are. There’s a reason why the rate of suicide among the transgendered is appallingly high, and that is that with acute gender dysphoria comes a mental and physical disconnect – a revulsion with themselves that can and does lead to self-harm and suicide unless they receive the correct treatment. Only in the latter half of the last century was medical technology able to assist in this.

Gay men and women on the other hand are perfectly happy with their gender – there is no mental and physical disconnect. They are simply sexually attracted to people of the same gender – something that is seen throughout the animal kingdom and should in an enlightened society be seen as perfectly normal.

@31. Dirk

So, Dirk, answer the question: do you personally discriminate against and verbally abuse gay women and men or do you just support the right of others to do so?

30. Tim Hardy

In answer to your question; im liberal, which means i think people should live how they want and think what they want, without state interference or social engineering.

@35. Dirk

So you don’t personally discriminate against and verbally abuse gay women and men but you do support the right of others to do so?

Well, only someone who didnt respect an individuals right to freedom of thought would phrase the question in such a way, but yes essentially i believe in peoples right to hate other people. Clearly you dont?

@37. Dirk

I respect people’s right to hate but not to discriminate.

Thank you for clarifying what kind of a person you are.

Some of your prejudices are quite comical: your support for discrimination against people on the grounds of their sexuality is not.

38. Tim Hardy

Yep thats what i mean, never talk to anyone whos right on. The world is black and white and the logic is juvenile.

I’m just remembering how these things panned out in the US:

http://www.badmouth.net/top-five-republican-gay-sex-scandals/

That’s five highly placed conservative Republicans, all of whom either directly worked to enable discrimination based on sexuality or encouraged its use as a wedge issue – four of whom were caught attempting to clandestinely procure sexual favours from men (one of whom attempted fellatio on an unconscious alcoholically-impaired colleague). The other turned out to be sending highly explicit and suggestive messages to teenage boys, though I’m a little troubled at the blog considering this incident a “gay” scandal, as making sexual overtures to minors should be and is a criminal offence, whereas being gay is most certainly not.

@39. Dirk

Dirk, I’m just trying to understand your position. You came on here hiding your opinions behind a quibble about the meaning of the word “homophobic” then when challenged became personally abusive and tried to derail the argument.

I just want to know what exactly it is you think – not some bullshit about scientific language – so we can discuss the real underlying issue.

You stated that “homophobia” was the same as hating a rival’s football team.

Homophobia exists and it kills people and you clearly don’t like the thought of being labelled a homophobe because you’re not a bad person and recognise (even though you try to deny it) that such behaviour is ugly and illiberal.

I’m sorry that this winds you up – but I’d like you to ask yourself why it makes you uncomfortable. I think you’ll find that you don’t really support the right of people to be abusive towards others on the grounds of your sexuality, that you don’t really believe that being gay or straight is the same as following Man U rather than Chelsea.

You’re on this website because you want to engage with people on the centre and the left. Labels like “right on” are just silly.

Some people are gay. We do not live in a theocracy. A modern, liberal society embraces sexual difference.

Thank you for engaging with my questions even though they made you feel uncomfortable. I didn’t mean to upset or humiliate you and I hope that I did not do so but I did mean to push you into a corner to force you to recognise where the position you are taking leads. Surely we’re all here to learn from one another not just to state our prejudices and move on?

42. Richard Weare

My name is Richard Weare and I am going to become a woman by having a sex change operation but I don’t have a clue to the cost of this operation. If someone could help me please phone me at 1-403-305-7727.

As someone who received electric shock treatment (aversion therapy) in the late sixties to ‘turn’ me away from homosexuality I have first-hand experience of a practice that no self-respecting psychiatrist would ever indulge in today. They wouldn’t want to be put in the same category as torturers. I took this treatment ‘voluntarily’. By that I mean I was isolated, guilt-ridden, and suicidal simply because there was no-one around to say that being gay was okay. I am glad it didn’t work and the proliferation of gay politics in the 1970s brought everything out into the open and made life a lot easier.

I am not sure why a gay man would want to be be ‘turned’ nowadays. Maybe guilt and self-loathing are still around. There are religious groups that still regard homosexuality as a sin and can prey upon vulnerable and isolated individuals to change their lifestyles.There are all kinds of thug regimes throughout the world where being gay is harshly punished. Perhaps this might go some way to explaining the reasons why some gay men would want to be heterosexualised. The best thing that happened of course was the collective fight back against oppression and the proud assertion of gay identity. That’s what we need to continue to do rather than give in to sickly cures for something that isn’t even a disease. Thankfully it is easier nowadays for those who are isolated to use the internet and find gay organisations or the gay scene and join the merry throng.

Gender reassignment is quite different. This is the product of a choice made by an individual in the full knowledge that he or she is taking the right course of action towards establishing a true identity. This is often agonised over and done in the face of disapproval. Bravery itself. This is defiance against a hostile world and not guilt-ridden compliance to it.

Roger Helmer is perfectly entitled to ‘spout his views’. I’m a firm believer in freedom of speech. I concede his point that terms like homophobia or even transphobia, islamophobia etc. are all ‘bogeyman’ words designed to shut the oppostion up and prevent real, open and democratic debate. I prefer terms like queer basher, transgender basher, and muslim basher. That at least might lead us in the direction of asking a basic question – why are they being bashed? With any luck this might lead to an understanding that this is a question of politics and social oppression rather than a mental health problem called a ‘phobia’.

Best wishes,

Ian

@2. Richard Weare

The following url should help point you in the right direction of people who can help you decide if this is the path you want to take and to assist you on your way:

http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/gender-dysphoria/Pages/Introduction.aspx

(I’m assuming your in UK – if not I can dig out some US links for you.)

Thanks for that, Ian.

46. Roger Mexico

Incoherence of thought isn’t really a disadvantage for a Conservative MEP, more a qualification. However I would have thought even even Mr Helmes would have realised that the reason why it’s not OK for a psychiatrist to try to “turn” a consenting homosexual is because it doesn’t work. So any psychiatrist who claimed to be able to “turn” someone’s sexuality reliably and permanently would simply be committing fraud.

That’s not say that some people may change their sexuality during their lives. Just that medical science can’t do it – a more normal route is falling in love (with someone you shouldn’t have fallen in love with).

Of course the neologism “homophobia” is not so much a word as a political agenda. But politicians are inventing new words for their political agendas all the time – why can’t other people join in? More to the point, the fact that “homophobia” has become a word in common use proves that such a word was needed.

If he has yet to meet anyone who has an irrational fear of homosexuals, or of homosexuality. he obviously doesn’t get out much. Unless he thinks that all such fear is rational. Which might explain why doesn’t get out much.

He should be careful however of claiming that he backs conventional opinions, which have been held by most people through most of recorded history. For then he should be calling for the reduction of the age of marriage (and consent) to puberty. I was about to list a whole range of other ultra-reactionary opinions, but on reflection he probably agrees with those too.

But as I say, if these people had to think coherently there heads would explode with self-contradictions. Brussels is the right place for them.

Thanks for the comment Ian – I hope others read that too.

Falco: “Mr Helmer is regularly allowed to spout his views on websites such as ConservativeHome.”

Please claim your “Ban Free Speech” badge and cap Sunny.

Oh dear, fundamentally misunderstanding the nature of free speech and editorial decisions again, are we? When I ask for his blog to be shut down, you’re welcome to throw that at me.

I’m completely averse to the idea of aversion therapy, and have had friends go through sex changes which seemed to be the right thing for them, certainly – but I had the same initial thought as Falco (#4)- although clearly Helmer’s other statements rule out the possibility that this was intended as a challenging but open question. And Ian Towson (in particular) provides an excellent response to the question.

49. the a&e charge nurse

Tim/Dirk a very interesting exchange.

I am sure you would both prefer a world free from discrimination (of all stripes).
The question is how do we arrive at such a position – one of the fault lines usually arises around the ‘freedom of expression’ issue.

Some, including myself, regard ‘freedom of speech’, and indeed ‘freedom of thought’ as the best guiding principle for dealing with our various problems.
Those who come at problems from this angle regard it as essential for opponents to able to speak authentically (however much we might disagree with them personally) but we should have exactly the same freedom to challenge various utterances, sometimes vigorously, when points of view are aired that we might regard as unacceptable, or even discriminatory.

As difficult as it is I do not think a special case can be made for homosexuality, in the same way that it cannot be made for religion, women’s rights, or anything else for that matter.

If we take parenting style as a parallel – some parents adopt a more controlling approach during their child’s upbringing while other parents try to provide their children with the intellectual, and behavioural tools to make their own choices (in so far as this possible, and when it is age appropriate).

It is through this latter process that attitudes to discrimination will genuinely change because over time enough people will realise for themselves how cruel it is to attack a person simply because they happen to be gay.
There is a very good talk on the subject if you have half an hour or to listen to it;
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X3Hg-Y7MugU

Oh dear, fundamentally misunderstanding the nature of free speech and editorial decisions again, are we? When I ask for his blog to be shut down, you’re welcome to throw that at me.

Can you explain what free speech and editorial decisions means then? Surely someone edits the web page and made a decision to include this?

51. Dick the Prick

Gender reallignment still falls under the 1912 Mental Health Act, revised a couple of times and the Tories are shutting regional SHA funding. Only Charing Cross will do the assessments and the ops in a few months. Hey ho. No votes in it anyway.

52. the a&e charge nurse

[46] “More to the point, the fact that “homophobia” has become a word in common use proves that such a word was needed” – anti-gay feelings long predate irritating Tory MEPs, or the introduction of a particular word.

The big books have long enshrined anti-gay rhetoric – takes this from the teaching of Islam;
“When a man mounts another man, the throne of God shakes.”
Or,
“Kill the one that is doing it and also kill the one that it is being done to.” (in reference to the active and passive partners in gay sexual intercourse).
http://www.missionislam.com/knowledge/homosexuality.htm

Needless to say the catholics are not much better – look at this drivel if you can be bothered to read it
http://www.catholic.com/library/Homosexuality.asp

The tory may be out of order but compared to the malice perpetuated by religious ideologues he is very small beer indeed?

@43. Ian Townson

Thank you. I didn’t respond last night because I think I’d already talked too much but what you experienced sounds horrific. Have you ever spoken to a journalist about this? I am certain there are many sympathetic columnists who would want to share your story with a wider audience. More people need to be reminded of such horrors.

Maybe you’re right. We should stop saying -phobia and start saying -bashing.

@49. the a&e charge nurse

Thank you for your conciliatory comment and observations. I’d like to apologise again to Dirk if I upset him and to anyone else on this thread who thought I was out of line.

I will definitely make time this week to watch the video you’ve linked to.

Freedom of expression is a tricky one. In a therepeutic environment, it is essential that a person be allowed to express the most repellent thoughts without judgement or criticism but I believe the harm caused by the wider public expression of similar thoughts, especially in an openly discriminatory society, can outweigh the benefits.

I am in favour of free speech but as the famous example has it, that does not give you the freedom to shout “fire” in a crowded theatre.

I do not think a special case can be made for homosexuality, in the same way that it cannot be made for religion, women’s rights, or anything else for that matter.

I would respectfully disagree and say that a special case case be made so that we can provide a safe environment for children to grow up undamaged.

You don’t grow up straight and cis-gendered then at 18 make a “lifestyle decision” like chosing a job. All the intellectual, and behavioural tools are of little use in making your own choices if you’ve internalised a message that you are damaged, dirty, wrong, deviant, sinful, etc.

I am genderqueer. I have known this since I was 4. The modal age at which children recognise their transgender identity is 5; the mean average, 7.9.

http://www.gjss.org/images/stories/volumes/7/2/3.%20Kennedy%20and%20Hellen.pdf
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/joanne-herman/should-we-teach-children-_b_805133.html
(via http://earwicga.wordpress.com/ )

I lost huge chunks of my teens and twenties to depression as a result of growing up different in a society that viewed transgendered people as deviants, freaks or – at best – figures of fun.

Denying that homophobia and transphobia do not exist with silly, pseudo-scientific arguments does not create that safe supportive atmosphere and I will never stop challenging people who take this stance.

Any straight or cisgendered person should take a look at the suicide figures for gay and transgendered individuals then ask themselves if perhaps a little bit more of “right on”, “politically correct nonsense” might help create a less hostile world in which fewer young men and women take their lives as a result of their gender or sexual identities.

Having done so, perhaps they might also question if labels like “right on” and “politically correct” are not also propaganda designed to aggressively prevent discussion and protect intolerance and bigotry.

@51. Dick the Prick

Only Charing Cross will do the assessments and the ops in a few months

That’s terrible. I didn’t realise that. Sadly, as you say, there are no votes in it.

@53 To add to what you said, an unfortunate number of people, especially those encountered online, seem to think criticism of their statements or being called out for their bigoted remarks is an assault on their right to free speech. It is not. It is merely free speech working properly by others exercising their own right to respond.

It’s not wrong for a mental health professional to attempt to help someone change their sexual orientation unless they’re doing it to satisfy the sad prejudices of someone like Mr Helmer rather than it the interest of the patient.

56. Cynical/Realist?

@Dirk

Do you find yourself physically aroused by the Big Book of Ann Rynd? Now that I really would support psychiatric treatment for.

Religions, dictators, monarchs and even democratically elected governments have, throughout history, had to have their objects of hate – and hence scapegoats – to keep the masses preoccupied and themselves in power. If scapegoats are an inescapable essential to keeping society in order – then I suggest we make political Neanderthals, like this wooden-headed Tory throwback a scapegoat – and bring back the pillory . It would be a form of popular justice that even he would approve of . Tories believe in punishment – not tolerance or rehabilitation. We must fight this kind of rotten pinstriped bigotry with rotten eggs. No mercy.

The guy’s an ignoramus anyway.

The Greek word ‘phobos’ meant hatred as well as fear, and that meaning is preserved in several other modern English terms e.g xenophobia, Francophobia (you’re hardly likely to be frightened of the French, however much you may hate them), and melophobia (hatred of music).

Technically as Women can have sex change ops to become men, then surely straight people can have physciatry to become gay!

And presumably bigots can have education to make them tolerant? It don’t seem to happen though – do it?

61. Ian Townson

RE: 58.Larry

I must admit my ignorance of the etymology of the word ‘phobia’. I wasn’t vaguely aware of its ancient Greek origins but not the exact meaning. However, Larry, I think you missed the point of what I was saying about the use of the word phobia.

I have no doubt that phobias exist and, where they are troublesome to individuals, they can seek some form of therapy to rid themselves of the ‘mental health’ problem. Arachnophobia (fear of spiders) and claustrophobia (fear of confined spaces) are two well-known examples.

However, when it comes to ‘phobias’ relating to people, my argument is that there are wider political/social/cultural factors at play here rather than the notion that they are simply the product of psychological states belonging to isolated individuals. How else would this explain changing attitudes towards homosexuals and transgendered people to a more tolerant if not entirely accepting stance? The new phenomenon of so-called Islamophobia is really muslim-bashing brought on by the insistence that all muslims/islamists, through guilt-by-association, are terrorists which is just plain wrong. Hence Islamophobia. Am I getting anywhere with this?

Best wishes,

Ian


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    Tory MEP Roger Helmer makes 'turn' homosexuals remark http://bit.ly/hqerSP

  2. Mark Martin

    RT @libcon: Tory MEP Roger Helmer makes 'turn' homosexuals remark http://bit.ly/hqerSP

  3. Paul Nolan

    Typical Tory shit is typical. http://t.co/FZ6ejaw via @libcon #lgbtq #fail

  4. Lauren G

    RT @libcon: Tory MEP Roger Helmer makes 'turn' homosexuals remark http://bit.ly/hqerSP

  5. Sophie Gale

    RT @libcon: Tory MEP Roger Helmer makes 'turn' homosexuals remark http://bit.ly/hqerSP

  6. Mancunian Candidate

    RT @libcon: Tory MEP Roger Helmer makes 'turn' homosexuals remark http://bit.ly/hqerSP

  7. Oasis Caretaker

    RT @libcon: Tory MEP Roger Helmer makes 'turn' homosexuals remark http://bit.ly/hqerSP

  8. Danny James

    RT @libcon: Tory MEP Roger Helmer makes 'turn' homosexuals remark http://bit.ly/hqerSP

  9. Paul Wood

    RT @libcon: Tory MEP Roger Helmer makes 'turn' homosexuals remark http://bit.ly/hqerSP

  10. Chantelle West

    RT @libcon: Tory MEP Roger Helmer makes 'turn' homosexuals remark http://bit.ly/hqerSP « For once I agree with a Tory n I'm not homophobic

  11. Adam Hodgson

    RT @libcon: Tory MEP Roger Helmer makes 'turn' homosexuals remark http://bit.ly/hqerSP

  12. Martin McGrath

    Gay (or not)? Live in the East Midlands? Here's another reason not to vote Tory: the "thougts" of your MEP Roger Helmer http://bit.ly/ifNf1a

  13. TenPercent

    Tory MEP makes ‘turn’ homosexuals remark | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/tTIcQ1a via @libcon

  14. Tim Ireland

    Tory MEP makes ‘turn’ homosexuals remark | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/h7DgjwQ via @libcon

  15. Scott Matthewman

    RT @bloggerheads: Tory MEP makes ‘turn’ homosexuals remark | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/h7DgjwQ via @libcon

  16. PaulWilks

    RT @bloggerheads: Tory MEP makes ‘turn’ homosexuals remark | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/h7DgjwQ via @libcon

  17. jameskennell

    RT @TenPercent: Tory MEP makes ‘turn’ homosexuals remark | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/tTIcQ1a via @libcon

  18. Wesley Rykalski

    RT @TenPercent: Tory MEP makes ‘turn’ homosexuals remark | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/tTIcQ1a via @libcon

  19. Jan Bennett

    RT @bloggerheads: Tory MEP makes ‘turn’ homosexuals remark | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/h7DgjwQ via @libcon

  20. Chris J

    RT @bloggerheads: Tory MEP makes ‘turn’ homosexuals remark | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/h7DgjwQ via @libcon

  21. Stefan Laros

    With the Tories in power can we now look forward to more of this sort of stuff? Time to emigrate? http://j.mp/fdGFGJ

  22. Sparky

    RT @saviourseph: Typical Tory shit is typical. http://t.co/FZ6ejaw via @libcon #lgbtq #fail

  23. This charming man « Shot by both sides

    […] UPDATE 2: Tory MEP Roger Helmer also under fire for his comments about ‘turning’ homosexuals. […]

  24. Ramzy Alwakeel

    Tory MEP makes ‘turn’ homosexuals remark | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/ie7qHFG via @libcon

  25. Molly

    RT @libcon: Tory MEP Roger Helmer makes 'turn' homosexuals remark http://bit.ly/hqerSP

  26. Rónán Burtenshaw

    Tory MEP makes ‘turn’ homosexuals remark | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/7EJwKoD via @libcon

  27. sunny hundal

    @lillyxdx @JM_Stevenson Helmer is a big jerk-off , he has form on stuff like this: http://bit.ly/hqerSP

  28. Simone Webb

    @le_mcevoy http://t.co/ixLrntJ8 http://t.co/MBJTcL9O http://t.co/Ozb1dsLE





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