Free speech rules
Richard Lucas (Letters, 23 November) claims that gay rights charities pose a threat to freedom of speech. That is quite wrong.
The Equality Network supports Mr Lucas’s freedom to write to The Scotsman, and to have his letters published, even when he expresses views which are offensive to our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) network members.
Mr Lucas’s freedom of speech is demonstrated by the large number of his letters The Scotsman has printed.
But he must expect, when he opposes equal legal rights for LGBT people, that others will write in disagreement, and will use language as robust as his. Freedom of speech is for everyone, not just Mr Lucas himself.
Richard Lucas laments what he regards as the phenomenon of “secular intolerance” and is thankful that Scotland is not yet one of the countries where “confession of Christian belief can lead to loss of employment”.
What he does not appear to appreciate is that where religious people in the UK complain of being victims of intolerance, it is usually a good idea to look around to identify whom they want to treat badly or at least whom they cause to fear being treated badly.
If I were a gay man seeking accommodation in a housing association for myself and my partner and discovered that the official dealing with my application was the Richard Lucas who has so often written in this newspaper against same-sex marriage – not even disallowing himself the sneer of scare-quotes around the word “marriage” – I should be afraid that, acting in the name of his Christian conscience, Mr Lucas would make sure my application languished in a place where it was not processed, all the while congratulating himself on having struck a blow for the Lord against what he would regard as sin.
Mr Lucas may say that he would never do such a thing were he in that position but would process that application in accordance with the law and the rules of the organisation in question, but the trouble is that anti-gay rhetoric like his is calculated to give rise to a not unreasonable fear that he and like-minded people would defy the law or the requirements of their job in order to implement their Christian conscience and thereby cause suffering to people.
The Scotsman continues to give undue prominence to letters from members of secularist pressure groups (such as on 23 November, when two letters are printed, making the same points on behalf of their organisation and themselves about the Anglican church’s vote on women bishops), which do not identify themselves as belonging to the groups.
Many will feel that this shows dishonesty on the part of The Scotsman and is typical of why your newspaper has lost the right to be worthy of respect as offering diversity of viewpoint or frankness in coverage of committed “organisations” or, for that matter, individual readers’ viewpoints.
Many of us who have deserted The Scotsman in droves will regret the decline in standards and integrity by your paper over recent years in this and other regards.
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