Schools in Britain are being asked to address anti-gay bullying by simply acknowledging the existence of homosexuals—an approach that has been proven to reduce anti-gay bulling—and that country's increasingly marginalized, desperate, and unhinged rightwingers see a plot to "destroy the very concept of normal sexual behavior," and to persecute upstanding, faithful Christians who just want to discriminate against gays and lesbians in peace. Johann Hari takes on the haters in a moving column in the Independent. It's required reading:
Yet in one strange way, the current backlash is reassuring. When I was a kid in the 1980s, these sentiments were so widespread that a law — Section 28 — was passed to resolve them, and the cowed critics were derided as “the loony left.” Today, the opinion polls show 80 percent of the British people support gay marriage, and the people offering these views are regarded as the loons. It’s worth pausing and saying to all the people who have been open to persuasion and have changed their minds on this question: thank you. It’s incredibly moving to see how many heterosexual people have rallied to the defence of gay people, and it’s a reminder that we will never go back now.
In order to justify their desire to discriminate against gay people, the few remaining homophobes have concocted a scenario where they are The Real Victims. They can say what they want, set up churches or mosques that preach what they want, and turn away gay people from their homes every day of the week if they so desire—and I would defend every one of those rights to the last ditch. There is only one thing they can’t do. They can’t choose to offer a service to the general public, and then turn people away on the basis of race or sexuality. They can’t put up de facto signs saying ‘No blacks, no Irish, no gays’ at their B&B.
This isn’t a form of prejudice—it is a way of preventing prejudice. Nobody will ever force you to work in a registry office or open a B&B, but if you choose to, you can’t reject the gay couples and expect to remain in post. (In one case where this happened, they offered her a job in the office instead, but she chose to be a bizarre cause célèbre of prejudice instead.) Services for the general public have to be available without contamination by bigotry. It’s a simple principle. Don’t demand the right to spit in the face of gay people, and claim you’re being picked on when you’re asked to stop.
Yes, I know your religious texts mandate bigotry against gay people. They also mandate slavery and stoning adulterers, and they laud a God who feeds small children to bears (see II Kings ii, 23-24). As secular morality has evolved, you have managed to overcome those beliefs. Here’s another that has to catch up.
But there is an even lower point in the homophobes’ rhetorical arsenal. Being subjected to bullying and violence as children and teenagers makes gay people unusually vulnerable to depression and despair. The homophobes then use that depression and despair to claim that homosexuality is inherently a miserable state — and we shouldn’t do anything that might “encourage” it. They create misery, and then use it as a pretext to create even more misery.