ANOTHER VIEW : Outright hypocrisy

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The Independent Online
The Anglican church has decided that attack is the best form of defence, never mind the truth. The accusations of threats and intimidation against myself and OutRage by the Bishop of London, David Hope, are a clever diversionary tactic to deflect criticism from the hypocrisy and homophobia of the Church of England.

While our private, courteous appeal for the bishop to come out has been universally denounced, no one has uttered a word to condemn the church's victimisation of lesbian and gay people. Priests in loving homosexual relationships face the sack. The Church of England Children's Society bans lesbian and gay foster parents, denying young people the opportunity of a loving home. The Courage Trust is getting Anglican resources to "cure" homosexuals and turn them straight. Dr Hope has been complicit in this church homophobia. He has opposed an equal age of consent for gay men and has supported the Children's Society ban on fostering by gay people.

If the church were not homophobic, our campaign would not be necessary. Years of polite lobbying got us nowhere. It is only since OutRage named 10 Anglican bishops last November that the church has begun a serious dialogue with the lesbian and gay community. In January, Anglican bishops held an unscheduled discussion on homosexuality, which resulted in one of the church's strongest condemnations of homophobic discrimination. Officials have privately admitted that none of these developments would have occurred if OutRage had not "provoked a crisis".

In addition to the 10 bishops we named, there were five others we did not name because we were privately attempting to persuade them to come out of their own free will. Two of these five have come out - Derek Rawcliffe with great honesty and dignity, and David Hope, half-heartedly and with bitter recriminations.

Our combination of outing and private persuasion has worked. However, we now stand accused of behaving unethically because we refuse to be a part of the squalid, deceitful conspiracy of silence that keeps homosexuality in public life hidden and invisible. While some may choose to hide their homosexuality, they do not have the right to demand that other lesbians and gay men collude with their deception. We have simply called on the bishops to be truthful about their sexuality.

In contrast, those who oppose our methods turn the normally cherished value of integrity upside-down. They elevate collusion with a closeted person's lying and deceit into an act of high moral principle. Those of us who decide to be honest about homosexuality in public life are castigated as if truthfulness was a monstrous immorality.

Who is really acting immorally? Those who are truthful about homosexuality, hypocrisy and homophobia in the church? Or those protecting closeted gay bishops who support homophobic policies that damage the lives of lesbian and gay people?

The writer is spokesman for OutRage.