Right to debate

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The right to same-sex marriage has now been achieved (your report, 5 February) and whether one agrees or disagrees with the terms of the new law, it is a fait accompli.

I do not share Alex Neil’s complete confidence that society is now a better place as of yesterday, nor his conviction that there will be no negative consequences as a result of the new legislation.

The necessity to respect the views of those who oppose same-sex marriage has been emphasised by MSPs. Therefore may I suggest the term “homophobic” – which did occur in the parliamentary debate – be a term that is used advisedly.

A phobia, we all know, is a fear, and usually an irrational one. The word “homophobic” insinuates that there is an irrationality attached to the beliefs of those who do not approve of homosexual practice. And more tellingly we are then led to deduce that those who do approve are the people of good sense and sweet reasonableness.

I have no fear of homosexuals nor am I “nervous around” them; the latter phrase was snuck in by an MSP yesterday in an unworthy attempt to trivialise the deeply held beliefs that inform the conscience that differs from his own.

However, I am nervous when I consider that the great majority of the vote that saw the passing of the law yesterday in Holyrood, in my experience, does not reflect the views of the Scottish people. Perhaps we need a referendum.

I do indeed harbour a fear. It is that those who hold that marriage should be between a man and a woman will lose the right to openly express such a belief.

The temerity to take part in the debate in the public square may be eroded, if pejorative words such as “homophobe” are routinely appended to the contributor. It is to the benefit of all ­Scotland’s people that debate is not snuffed out because there is a fear of ridicule or of victimisation.

Nancy Clusker

Edinburgh Road

Bathgate, West Lothian