UKIP and the Gay Pride March
Sean Gabb (18th June 2015)
On the 6th June 2015, the organisers of the Gay Pride March in London announced that they had rejected an application from the UK Independence Party to take part. They had given in to a petition which called UKIP “inherently homophobic, transphobic, xenophobic, racist and misogynistic.”
Before making my statement on this ban, I will say the following:
1. I am not, nor ever have been, a member of UKIP, and I voted Conservative in last month’s general election.
2. I started denouncing the laws against all-male sex in the 1970s – that is, before many of our leading “gay rights” activists had started filling their nappies. Some of these denunciations were in writing, and enough of them survive and can be found on my website to show that I am telling the truth. I will add that saying what I said as a schoolboy and as a young man could get more than funny looks. It never did in my case, but there was always a risk, and I took that risk.
3. So far as I am concerned, the meaning of “gay rights” begins and ends with the right to do with your own as you please, and to associate as you please with other consenting adults. This means no criminal laws against all-male sex, and no discrimination by the State. It also means no special laws against all-male erotica and no special laws to protect “public decency.” Since I do not believe in general laws against adult erotica, and believe that the old laws against causing a breach of the peace are all that is needed for the regulation of public behaviour, what I mean is complete freedom of speech and a relaxed view of what should be tolerated in the streets.
4. I have no principled objection to gay marriage. I wrote in its favour in the 1980s, and still see no reason why the bundle of declarations and agreements that constitute marriage should not be available to all who want it.
Now this, broadly speaking, seems to be the position taken by my gay friends in UKIP. It seems also largely to be the position taken in public by Nigel Farage. By the standards of twenty five years ago, the UKIP line on gay issues is outrageously libertarian. Why ban its representatives from joining in a gay march?
The answer, I regret, is that the gay movement is no longer about the basic human rights recognised in the English liberal tradition. It is about sectional privilege – privilege that can only be granted and maintained by an enlarged and intrusive state. UKIP and Nigel Farage are condemned because they are against anti-discrimination laws. Their position on these is called “bigotry.”
However, part of the right of association is the right not to associate. Two men should certainly have the right to live together in matrimony. But no one should be forced to bake their wedding cake. If you are running a business, you are risking your money and your time. If you do not wish to do business with people, for whatever reason, that should be your unquestioned right. It may be unwise of you to turn away paying business. It may be small-minded of you. But that should be your right. It is a right of exactly the same kind as the right of two men to have sex with each other.
If you are a minister of religion, you should not be compelled to solemnise a gay marriage. Or, if you do solemnise a gay marriage against the rules of your denomination, you should have no right to any legal redress if you are suspended from or deprived of your position. A religion is a private organisation, formally or effectively separate from the British State. The British State has no right to interfere in its internal affairs, unless these are actively hostile to the lives, liberties or property of others.
Freedom of speech involves the right to publish and to consume erotica. It also involves the right to express disgust for the acts portrayed, and to speak ill of anyone who enjoys them. None of this involves the right to cause a breach of the peace, as traditionally known. But no one should suffer any punishment for speaking out for or against any particular sexual act or any particular lifestyle.
As an aide, let me deal with the claim that UKIP is a “racist” and a “xenophobic” organisation. I do not believe this to be true. But, if true, it is irrelevant. Disliking men whose taste is for all-male sex and disliking foreigners may be equally uncharitable. But they are logically separate. You can oppose mass-immigration on the grounds that it displaces the traditional occupiers of a territory. This has no automatic bearing on how those traditional occupiers should be allowed to behave. And the distinction is not abstract. I know identitarians who are strongly opposed to third world immigration and multiculturalism, but who are indifferent to all-male sex.
I might add that many of the newcomers are not indifferent to all-male sex, and that the areas in which they predominate can be rather unfriendly to men whose taste is for all-male sex.
Of course, Gay Pride is a private organisation, and it has the same right as a Christian baker should have not to associate with people it dislikes. But, I repeat, it is generally the case that the mainstream gay movement in this country has moved away from the liberal fundamentals that it preached from the 1950s until the 1990s. It has become an increasingly sinister interest group pushing for censorship and coerced association. When not able to use the criminal and civil laws to this effect, it has demanded and obtained equally effective administrative policies.
This change of nature is wrong in itself. It is also against the long term interests of its alleged beneficiaries. All the freedoms we presently enjoy are the fruits of the English liberal tradition. Every denial of those fruits to some lay down a precedent for their denial to others. For the past generation, the old prejudices against all-male sex have been dissolving. Who can say what the next generation will bring?