Gay police under investigation for “faith crime”

gpa ad
From the BBC: The Gay Police Association is under investigation for an alleged “faith crime”. In a recent advert in the Independent, the GPA claimed that they had recorded a 74% increase in homophobic incidents “where the sole of primary motivating factor was the religious belief of the perpetrator”. The advert shows a bible next to a splash of blood.

A single complaint from the public prompted the investigation.

The demented homophobes at the Christian Institute are also up in arms about it, claiming in an email newsletter that the ad was “virulently anti-Christian”, “grossly offensive” and “wholly unsubstantiated”. They urge readers to complain to the Advertising Standards Authority.

… violence or abusive behaviour towards any person – homosexual or otherwise – is totally incompatible with the Christian faith. A violent person cannot be a Bible-believing Christian.

In exactly the same way as no true Scotsman puts sugar on his porridge.

MWW will be watching closely. If this results in a prosecution, it will mean that it is illegal to suggest that religious belief can sometimes lead to violence.

Here is the text of the advert:

In the last 12 months, the Gay Police Association has recorded a 74% increase in homophobic incidents, where the sole or primary motivating factor was the religious belief of the perpetrator.

Verbal abuse and physical assault against gay men and women is a criminal offence and should always be reported to the police.

Discrimination against gay people in the workplace is also unlawful and should be reported to employers, who have a duty of care to prevent it.

Homophobia can never be justified and must never be tolerated.

UPDATE: Pink News has more, with quotes from Stonewall, Outrage, and GALHA.

UPDATE: (21/07/06) According to the BBC, in a report on the ongoing spat between the GPA and the Christian Police Association, the complainer was the Rev George Hargreaves. This is the guy who penned Sinitta’s 80s pop masterpiece “So Macho” and stood as a Scottish MEP candidate in Skye for the fundamentalist party Operation Christian Vote.

Christians are the new Jews, implies Macho George

macho george

An email from reader in Scotland, Andy Gilmour, describes the latest party political broadcast by the Scottish Christian Party. The leader of the SCP is our old pal Rev “So Macho” George Hargreaves, who campaigned against Jerry Springer: the Opera, and sought a private prosecution against the Gay Police Association for it’s “bloody Bible” ad.

The broadcast focuses on the SCP’s sense of persecution as a result of the upcoming Sexual Orientation Regulations:

A party political broadcast from the Scottish Christian Party drawing a parallel between the Nazis’ introduction of a ban on kosher food being followed by the extermination of the Jews, and the impending sexual orientation legislation being followed by, er…some kind of mass assault on christians.

…They even included footage of a Nazi rally in the broadcast…in case we’d all forgotten what they looked like.

Just how low can Hargreaves go?

(The Rev George Hargreaves wrote song “So Macho”,which was a hit for Sinitta in the 80s)

UPDATE: (27 Apr) You can download a video of the broadcast from their site. This is a transcript of the relevant section:
[Footage of Hitler addressing a crowd]
Hargreaves voicover:
“In 1933 Adolf Hitler passed a law saying that kosher food should be banned. Within 10 years he was murdering millions of Jews.”
[Cut back to Hargreaves speaking to camera]
“Next week, on the 30th of April, regulations come in that affect Christians. The Sexual Orientation Regulations come into force….which is the first stage of persecution of christians in this land. Put your cross by the cross!”

(Thanks again, Andy)

More on GPA appeals

The Guardian reports in more detail on the likely focus of the Gay Police Association’s appeal against that baffling ASA ruling.

Basically, they will be contesting all three complaints upheld decisions:

1. That the ad was likely to cause offence to Christian readers. The people who saw the original ad were readers of The Independent, who are, one presumes, mostly infidels. But the complaints were the result of an orchestrated campaign by fundamentalist Christian groups who would otherwise never have seen the ad.

2. That the image implied that all homophobic incidents were violent. This fails to take into account the entire text of the ad, which makes it clear that the homophobic incidents were “across the board”.

3. That the GPA had not provided substantiating evidence. At the time the GPA was involved in a criminal enquiry. When this enquiry was over, they tried to provide the ASA with the relevant information, but it was not taken into account or the investigation.

GPA spokesman Vic Codling also denied reports in some Christian sources that the GPA have officially apologised for the ad:

The GPA [doesn’t] see any reason to apologise for an advertisement that was merely stating the facts

The GPA continue to receive threatening homophobic emails from people purporting to be Christians.

(Thanks to Tom P)

Defiant GPA to appeal ASA ruling

It appears we were a bit hasty in condemning the Gay Police association for failing to supply evidence to the ASA for their 74% increase in homophobic attacks claim.

Kevin Boyle of the GPA told Pink News:

The GPA never refused to supply any material, we made it clear to the ASA that as there was a criminal investigation underway so we could not supply the material.

So what did the ASA think they were doing passing judgement before they had received all the evidence? The one judgement that seemed unequivocally correct turns out to have been totally unjustified in the circumstances.

The GPA are also openly defying the ASA instruction “to ensure future campaigns were not presented in a way that could cause undue offence and also […] that they should ensure the use of imagery did not send misleading messages to consumers”.

Mr Boyle’s response to that:

We are certainly not going to abide by the ruling that we should make sure our adverts do not offend people, one persons idea of offence is another’s idea of freedom of expression.

Give that officer a medal!

ASA rules on bloody Bible ad

gpa ad
The ASA has finally published its adjudication on the Gay Police Association’s, almost three months since the complaints started flooding in. “It’s our most complained about advert of the year so far,” said an ASA spokesman. Thanks to a concerted campaign by Christian groups, that is.

553 complaints came from individuals and groups such as Christian Watch (concerned with “the rapid inroads being made by satanic forces to undermine our biblically based constitution”), The Trinitarian Bible Society (“To uphold the Bible as the inspired, inerrant Word of God”), The Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches (more inerrantists), Christian Doctrine from Bible Theology Ministries (“Many employers are now nothing but gay puppets!”), and The Evangelical Alliance.

All of the above groups, who are complaining about how the GPA ad discriminates against Christians, are actively campaigning for exemptions to be included in the Sexual Orientation Regulations which will allow them to continue to discriminate against homosexuals.

There were five points of complaint, three of which were upheld:

1. The ad implied that Christians (rather than any other religious group) were responsible for the reported incidents, and therefore caused offence to Christian readers.
An utterly baffling judgement. Christians should be offended by the fact that some Christians are guilty of homophobic incidents. Does the ASA think they should be protected from the facts?

2. The ad implied that the Bible condoned homophobic incidents.
Not upheld
An equally baffling judgement. Here’s a quick reminder of what the Bible has to say about homosexuality:

If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them. [Lev 20.13]

The Bible does condone homophobic incidents. The complaint that the ad “implies” this does not make any sense, and should have been dismissed as invalid from the outset.

3. The ad incited violence towards “people of faith”, especially Christians.
Not upheld
The Evangelical Alliance was the group responsible for this one, and they were rightly rejected. They are gratifyingly unhappy about it.

4. The image implied that all the incidents reported were of a violent nature, involving physical injury.
This apparently breaches clause 7.1 (Truthfulness) of the CAP code. Huh? A pool of blood suggests that all the incidents were violent? No, it doesn’t. It merely suggests that violent incidents have occurred – and surely it is the violent ones which deserve the most attention? An illogical adjudication on an oddly legalistic complaint.

5. The claim that “In the last 12 months, the Gay Police Association has recorded a 74% increase in homophobic incidents, where the sole or primary motivating factor was the religious belief of the perpetrator” was not substantiated.
The only unequivocally correct judgement of the five. The GPA claimed that they “held documentary evidence”, but failed to show it to the ASA. That, frankly, is pretty stupid. If you are going to quote statistics you have to back them up.
UPDATE: (2 hours later) As explained in the article above, the GPA were unable to provide the data because the case was still under investigation. Sorry for calling you stupid, GPA.

All in all, are rather feeble display of fence-sitting by the ASA. They appear to be trying to keep everyone happy, rather than deliver a clearly-thought-out, impartial adjudication. They usually do better.

CPS drops case against Stephen Green

Confirming a rumour we heard yesterday, a Christian Institute mailshot reports that the CPS has dropped the case against Stephen Green.

This is good news all round. Not only was the charge of using “threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour” a specious one, given that SG was merely distributing leaflets at a rally, but this will also scupper the “double standards” charges aimed at the CPS who recently refused to pursue the case against the Gay Police Association for its bloody bible ad.

Common sense has prevailed this time, but it is unlikely that this will stop competing groups from trying to prosecute each other for saying things that upset them.

UPDATE: To make up for his disappointment at missing out on his day in court, publicity-hungry Stephen Green has vowed to take civil action against the police for infringing his freedom of speech. And so it goes on… So much for turning the other cheek – why not help waste a bit more public money, Stephen? As long as it keeps your name in the papers, eh?

Bloody Bible ad – GPA not prosecuted

Those swivel-eyed homophobes of the Christian Institute do have their uses. In their latest mailshot they reveal that they “have been told” that the Crown Prosecution Service will not go ahead with the case against the Gay Police Association for publishing their bloody bible ad.

No doubt this is because no crime was committed.

The CI, of course, are devastated. They do, however, make a valid point when they complain that Stephen “Dog Shit” Green is still being prosecuted for handing out anti-gay leaflets at the Cardiff mardi gras. He shouldn’t be, and MWW hopes that the case will be dropped at the next hearing on Sept 28th. The CI’s complaint wouldn’t sound so hollow if they hadn’t clamoured for the GPA to be prosecuted for exercising their freedom of speech.

Still, good news from the CPS. Let’s hope the Advertising Standards Authority, and the Police Complaints Commission come to similarly sensible conclusions.

Stephen Green arrested

Stephen “Dog Shit” Green, national director of Christian Voice, was arrested this weekend at the Cardiff Mardi Gras.

His was charged with using “threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress thereby, contrary to section 5(1) and (6) of the Public Order Act 1986”. What he actually did was hand out around 1,000 anti-gay leaflets (PDF download).

Green is predictably delighted:

I thank God for the honour of being locked up for sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. […]

Speaking about righteousness, morality, sin, repentance and the forgiveness sinners can find in the cross of Jesus Christ may well offend the fragile sensibilities of homosexuals, but should the police have a partisan unit whose job is to round up Christian dissidents, treat them like thought criminals and trample on freedom of speech?

While it is quite amusing to see hypocrisy exposed in such a manner (this self-styled champion of free speech tried to get a musical show shut down because it offended him, wanted to sue the BBC for “blasphemy”, and reacted with glee when the Gay Police Association were investigated for an alleged “faith crime” after they suggested that religion was sometimes a contributing factor to violence against homosexuals), isn’t it about time people stopped trying to prosecute each other for “faith” or “hate” crimes when no actual crime has been committed?

Freedom of speech not only means the right to say things others don’t want to hear, but also involves hearing things you don’t like the sound of. If Stephen Green is prosecuted for his silly leaflets, or the GPA gets done for its bloody Bible ad, it will be a sorry day for freedom of expression in this country.

UPDATE: (6 Sept) Green has denied the charges and was remanded on unconditional bail until Sept 28

Bloody Bible ad investigation to go ahead

gpa ad
Detective Chief Inspector Gerry Campbell, head of the domestic violence and hate crime unit, has revealed in a letter to Anne Widdecombe that a criminal investigation has been started into the Gay Police Association “bloody Bible” ad.

The original advertisement has been recorded as a religiously aggravated hate crime incident following a crime allegation by a member of the public.

This crime is now the subject of a proportionate effective and objective criminal investigation. The police senior investigating officer is in consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service. Any decision to prosecute is the sole decision of the CPS.

It seems the GPA are getting cold feet, judging from the words of Bernard McEldowney, deputy chairman of the association:

In hindsight maybe we should not have used the Bible but we wanted to highlight serious homophobic incidents on the grounds and justification of religious belief.

Scottish Catholics join bloody Bible ad fray

The Catholic Church in Scotland has voiced its support for the police investigation into the GPA Bloody Bible ad. Scotland Yard are investigating whether or not the Gay Police Association committed a “faith crime” (there is no such thing), by suggesting that there was sometimes a link between religious belief and homophobic violence.

Peter Kearney, spokesman for the Scottish bishops, described the ad as “outrageous and intolerant”.

This is exactly the kind of intolerance that gay groups claim they are trying to clamp down on.

Once again, it is the Christian Bible which has been singled out with a headline which has Christian connections. It is another sign that Christianphobia has become fashionable and acceptable.

The word “Christianphobia” was coined in an attempt to emulate the tactic used by Muslims to silence any criticism of their religion by giving it a label akin to “racism”.

Meanwhile, Conservative Scottish MSP Murdo Fraser has table an motion in the Scottish parliament condemning the ad:

[Parliament] rejects this assertion as totally erroneous; values Scotland’s Christian community and the contribution it makes to our society and our culture; deeply regrets that any police officer would choose to place an advertisement in any medium to make such a gratuitous insult to a section of the Scottish population; and hopes that the all police officers will act in a manner that reflects fully the attitudes, values and beliefs which Scotland, as a modern society founded on the Christian faith.

As David Lyle, the GPA Scotland officer responded,

The GPA article and statement in The Independent only sought to highlight the facts. […] People cannot be allowed to hide behind the cloak of religion as an excuse to commit hate crime

(Hat tip Gagwatch)