An advert was placed in The Independent (UK) newspaper on Thursday 29 June by the Gay Police Association. It features a picture of a Bible, a pool of blood and the caption "In the name of the father" here . It seems to blame Bible-believing Christians for a supposed increase in homophobic incidents. True Bible-centred Christians believe in loving their neighbours, whatever their sexual orientation, not attacking them.
The advert urges members of the public to report hate-related crimes and incidents to the Police. Some of us felt that the advert itself could be construed as a religious hate incident. I reported the advert to the Police using an internet service here. A Police Officer called to to let me know that a complaint had been made to the relevant authorities on my behalf. The Officer was most sympathetic and helpful.
A friend of mine had a very different experience. Here is his account of what happened:
I was phoned after my complaint on Monday and a message left for me to contact a phone number. The lady I spoke to very politely asked me to go into a police station and make a complaint;she took my details and promised she'd let the station know I was coming. They knew...
I spoke to one man at the desk when a colleague then appeared. Said colleague was very opposed and did, at one point, tell me he was a member of the Metropolitan Community church - a gay church here in B....... It seemed to me that he was insisting that no action was going to be taken, until I asked for the name of the senior officer at the station. From then on he was adamant that the 'crime' would be logged, for it had to be, he said, since I'd complained. His logic was interesting:
Policeman: The advert wasn't a crime and I didn't know enough law to say it was.
GB: Does Anne Widdecombe, MP, know enough law I asked?.
Policeman: I don't know.
GB: Well she worked at the Home Office, didn't she?'
Policeman: I don't know. Policeman: The advert wasn't a crime it was just a statement of fact.
GB's aside: (I'd be really glad to know, wouldn't you, that no 'statement of facts' can ever be a crime?)
Policeman: You're entitled to believe homosexuality is wrong, but if you say it is wrong, and a homosexual is attacked as a result, the attack is your fault.
GB: What, even if I say that attacking people is wrong too?
GB: So if - to take a ridiculous example - I said that wearing beards was wrong and somebody attacked you because you were bearded, that would be my fault, would it?
GB: Why not?
Policeman: Because a beard isn't a life-style issue.
GB: OK. So let's say the advert persuades somebody to attack a Christian, having implied that we're bloodthirsty thugs. Is that the advert's fault?
GB: Why not?
Policeman: Because it's not going to happen.
GB: And if it did?
Policeman: It won't.
GB: But if it did?
Policeman: It won't; and the advert's not a hate crime because it's just relaying facts.
Policeman: The advert's not a crime because if it was The Independent wouldn't have published it.
GB: So - no advert is ever wrong, then?
Policeman: The advert's not a crime because the Gay Police Association is a reputable and highly respected police body.
Policeman: Large numbers of people are leaving the churches because of our attitude to homosexuality.
GB: Well, actually conservative churches are larger than the liberal churches.
Policeman: Yes, but a lot of people in your churches aren't Christians. (I do hope that's true!)
Well [says GB], I'm a reasonably confident, articulate, law-abiding citizen; I felt ridiculed and intimidated. I really don't want to be doing this - but if we don't protest and end up jailed, whose fault will that be?
UPDATE: Scotland Yard investigates the Gay Police Association over their advert after "faith crime" concerns were raised by a member of the public here .