Amidst all the recent LGBT celebrations and jollity, a couple of weeks ago there was a Gay Pride parade in sunny Bournemouth. Truth to tell, from the video footage VfJUK has seen, it looks to have been a somewhat turgid affair, but these events appear ‘popular’ these days. The parade in Bournemouth, however, was chiefly remarkable for a barely acknowledged, but totally reprehensible, assault on David Skinner, an elderly gentleman who was there to bear witness to the shocking death at the turn of the century of Harry Hammond.
For those for whom this name is unknown, in the words of Mr Skinner, Harry Hammond was, “a 69 year old, Christian street preacher, who (at the pride parade) in 2001 went into the town centre with a large sign which read: ‘Jesus Gives Peace, Jesus is Alive, Stop Immorality. Stop Homosexuality, Stop Lesbianism, Jesus is Lord’.” It could perhaps have been expected that this would produce something of a reaction. Mr Hammond was doubtless hoping for repentance, but in the event he was physically attacked, and then arrested by the police for incitement of his attackers. At the subsequent trial, he was found guilty and ordered to pay a fine and costs of £650. Shortly afterwards he was hospitalised and died. Hence Mr Skinner’s tribute at this year’s parade.
But history, as they say, has a way of repeating itself. Mr Skinner took with him to the parade a large sign proclaiming, “IN MEMORY OF HARRY HAMMOND – died 2001- Defending freedom of speech for Biblical truth….” Bolted below this, he had a large No Entry sign, superimposed over two men engaged in a sexual act.
Once again there was perhaps predictable outrage, and once again the holder of the sign was assaulted, as the placard was wrenched from Mr Skinner’s grip and smashed on the floor. A woman then followed this up by drenching him in some sort of sticky liquid, that he said for a moment he feared was acid.
All this was recorded on film, and the police were called. But even though shown the recording of what had happened, they dismissed all allegations of assault and refused to act. Indeed, they threatened that, if he persisted in his complaint, they would arrest him under sections 4A and 5 of the Public Order Act. The clear implication is, therefore, that in the opinion of the police Mr Skinner was at fault. Which in one respect may be true, to the extent that, if he exercised his legal right to freedom of expression, it might reasonably be envisaged that those participating in the parade would react negatively. But this surely would still not justify their attacking him physically! As it is, given the attitude of our gallant law enforcement officers, adherents of the new morality presumably now feel they have licence to do whatever they want, even to the extent of committing a criminal offence.
VfJUK asks if the police would have acted in the same way if the position had been reversed? More specifically, would they have told LGBT activists it was fine for people to push them around and smash their property? Or would the perpetrators by now be facing public abuse and humiliation, a huge fine, and even accommodation at Her Majesty’s pleasure?
The truth is that, where so-called LGBT rights are concerned, it is not an even playing field. No matter what happens, they are always the ‘victims’, and can apparently say and do whatever they want. We would remind the police that the offence of assault is committed if someone so much as lays a finger on you without permission – but David Skinner was jostled, his placard torn from his hands and smashed, and then he was deliberately drenched in some sort of viscous, but unidentified, liquid, which provoked real fear.
And the police say there was no offence.
In theory in the UK we still have the rights to freedom of belief and of speech. Indeed, under the Equality Act 2010, religion is a protected characteristic, of equal status with such things as sex, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, disability and race. Yet increasingly, religious conviction and conscience are being summarily stifled. In the tradition of the pigs in Animal Farm, it appears that some equalities are more equal than others.
This is not good enough. Increasingly, we find ourselves living in a totalitarian state where traditional British values of honesty, fairness and justice are being traduced and treated with disdain. We say again to Government and to the authorities in our land: Stop prioritising LGBT rights over Christian rights to freedom of belief and expression.