Last weekend I posted a Tweet prompted by the news story about Lesley Pilkington, the psychotherapist entrapped by an undercover homosexual reporter. My Tweet was intended as a light-hearted dig at the absurdity of modern social mores, and I certainly did not intend, nor expect, to offend anyone. But I had reckoned without the LGBT lobby, which reacted with fury. (One comment on my own blog referred to them as “the Pink Taliban”, but of course I would not use such a phrase for fear of giving offence). I have also, by the way, received quite a volume of supportive comments.
I should add that from my own point of view, the whole issue of sexual orientation is very much peripheral to my political priorities, though I recognise its importance to those involved.
One constituent was so incensed by my Tweet, that she wrote to the Nottinghamshire police accusing me of a “hate crime” (although how she managed to find any hatred in the Tweet is beyond me). A Police Inspector Gan replied that in the police view no offence had been committed, but he was recording the event as a “hate incident”. The law apparently defines anything which the victim, or any other person (my italics) regards as motivated by prejudice or hate, as a hate incident. So if I met you and shook hands and we said “Good Morning”, and if I felt that your “Good Morning” was expressed in a surly and confrontational tone, and reported it to the police, it seems that that would be a “hate incident”, merely because I chose to see it that way. The police apparently have no discretion to throw out such a complaint, however trivial (and the law – I mean law, not the police – is an ass).
It occurred to me that the lady’s complaint was itself motivated by prejudice or hate against those who fail to conform to the LGBT orthodoxy, and I have therefore asked Inspector Gan to record her complaint itself as a “hate incident”. This gives the affair a pleasing symmetry, and points up the absurdity of the legal definition.
The thrust of the LGBT position (based on my mail-bag, and after deleting the abuse) appears to be that sexual orientation is set at birth, determined by our genes, and is entirely binary. You’re born either homo- or heterosexual, and there’s nothing that you can or should do about it. Therefore any attempt to re-orient a homosexual is at best deluded and at worst deceitful and damaging. There’s clearly something suspect about this position, because if it were the case, you wouldn’t need the “B” (bi-sexual) in LGBT.
It also smacks of the Nuremberg defence. “Nothing to do with me, guv, just following orders” — in this case, orders from our genes. This shows a poor understanding of the way in which genes modulate human cognitive and behavioural characteristics. There are genes that influence many things — intelligence, introvertedness and so on. But in the adult human, these characteristics may also be modulated by environment, upbringing, experience, diet, culture and education — and behaviour itself by conscious choices and cultural values. No one surely would condemn an introverted person from seeking help from a therapist to become less introverted. No one would say that introvertedness was set by the genes, and immutable.
My own impression, confirmed by several letters I have received in the past week, is that there is a range of sexual orientation. At either end of the scale you have plain-vanilla homo- and heterosexuals. In the middle you have full-blown AC/DC bisexuals. But you also have homosexuals with an occasional passing interest in women, and heterosexuals occasionally attracted by their own sex. It seems plausible that individuals could move along this scale, and that an element of conscious choice might be involved.
Interestingly, an American court recently recognised “ex-homosexuals”, ruling that they were a group entitled to protection under anti-discrimination laws. Apparently they were complaining of harassment by the LGBT lobby, which was determined to deny the existence of ex-homosexuals.
There are also widely reported cases of men who appear to have changed their sexual orientation, who have married and had children and then in middle life have eloped with a male lover — or indeed who have decided to have a sex-change. Given that these men had lived to all appearances as regular heterosexuals for decades, and fathered children, it doesn’t seem plausible that they would have been conflicted and self-delusional all that time, suppressing and denying an innate tendency.
A disclaimer: before the next round of abuse starts, let me be clear (and Michael Cashman, please note). I have not said that homosexuality is “a disease”, nor have I said that it can or should be “cured”. All I am saying is that if a homosexual (or anyone else) wants for any reason to seek advice with regard to their sexual orientation, they should be allowed to do so, and therapists who believe they can help should be allowed to do so, without harassment from a strident lobby with an axe to grind.
As I said to start with, this debate is peripheral to my personal political priorities. But I have been intrigued by the mail I have received. I have also been approached by a couple of therapists working in this field who have invited me to discuss their work, and to meet some of the people who say they are ex-homosexuals, and I am inclined to do so. Watch this space.