Letter: If the majority wanted to outlaw homosexuality, would we do it?

I TAKE issue with your correspondents on the Countryside March (Letters, 8 March). The majority does not have the right, by mere force of opinion, to criminalise the activities of a law-abiding minority. Otherwise we might see homosexuality and minority religions criminalised.

A trade-off between country sports and the right to roam misses the point. Seventy per cent of people are property owners and we must think carefully before unilaterally tinkering with their established rights. Why should a pounds 200,000 London home carry superior property rights above land of the same value which happens to be in the country?

Contrary to popular belief, most country people do welcome ramblers, especially those who use local butchers, bakers, post offices and garages. The truth is, however, that too many visitors take from the local economy but contribute nothing, while an aggressive few assert "rights" but abrogate responsibilities.

The Countryside Alliance campaign has brought to the fore resentment of the farm subsidy system. A closer look might show that it is not small family farms nor British consumers who have gained most, but shareholders in supermarkets, agri-chemical companies and big industrial farms, many of them owned by us all through our pension funds.

Why doesn't a Royal Commission establish exactly what are the needs of both town and country and see how they might be reconciled. What are subsidies for? Can they be phased out eventually, perhaps by making one- time grants to convert to conservation farming techniques?

If we fail, the shrinking countryside will soon become an ugly blend of derelict fields, golf courses and economically efficient prairie farms, with few places left that are worth rambling over.

Richard Doran

Wrotham Heath, Kent

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