Letter: Stirring up anti-gay bigotry

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The Independent Online
Sir: The Conservatives must be in a desperate plight to think it worthwhile playing the homophobic bigotry card by attacking the National Lottery Charities Board's awards of a tiny proportion of its huge handout to a couple of small lesbian and gay charities (report, 12 June).

In 1978, I was one of the nearly 200 signatories of the statement Towards a Charter of Homosexual Rights, which commented that "We believe that fear or hatred of homosexuals is a social evil akin to anti-Semitism, racism, and slavery, with the same evil consequences. It harms both the victimised individuals, and the society which tolerates it.... Homosexuals are the only natural minority ... who are still liable to be mocked or persecuted by people claiming to represent ordinary social opinion, or the Christian church." Sadly, this is still true today, even though - or possibly because - homosexual people are much more visible and vocal in society.

The Prime Minister is a civilised man, and he knows perfectly well that homosexuals are still very disadvantaged and discriminated against. One can only conclude that he (quite wrongly, in my opinion) discerns some political advantage in whipping up prejudice against them. If so, he should remember that gay men and women are, like everyone else, taxpayers and voters, and he should realise that the time has gone by when they are prepared to be ground down and insulted by his party or anyone else.

I was especially sorry to see that Virginia Bottomley is apparently responsible for launching this disreputable bandwagon. As Secretary of State for Health, Mrs Bottomley had extensive dealings with many lesbian and gay people giving devoted service to Aids sufferers and in other health work. We deserve better than her patronising sneers and silly twaddle about "deeply shocked colleagues".

ANTONY GREY

London NW2

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