Sunday, 4 March 2012

Exeter College Homophobia

I am LIVID, here, thanks to the most egregious breach of LGBT rights in Oxford that I can remember. I'm not a tremendous banger of the gay rights drum personally (I used to feel quite lukewarm about gay marriage, for example) but current events have me hopping mad.

It's common for Oxford colleges to make cash in the holidays by renting out student rooms and their facilities as conference venues. Exeter college, which is right next door---I can practically touch it from my kitchen window---has, in its wisdom, signed a contract with a Christian group of such staggering nastiness that it leaves me speechless. 'Christian Concern'---forgive me not linking to the scumsucking bastards---will be descending on Exeter in the next few weeks, for dinners in hall and all sorts of jolly discussions. No doubt of things like 'corrective therapy' for gay people, which they have publicly supported---A QUACK 'THERAPY' WHICH CONSISTS OF THE TORTURE OF VERY VULNERABLE PEOPLE, let's not forget---and how they can carry on opposing every single advance in human rights for LGBT people tabled in the UK or US.

This is not a free speech issue, as this kind of organisation usually tries to claim. I think their views are repellent and damaging but they are welcome to hold them. But what should never have been allowed is that they should have been given a forum by a constituent college of the University of Oxford, complete with the patina of respectability that confers. The University makes it absolutely clear that it opposes discrimination, values diversity, and works to provide a space where LGBT students and staff can feel safe. I doubt I'll feel very safe with people scheming ten yards from my flat to get my human rights rolled back, or get me sacked because of my sexual orientation, or liken me to a paedophile, thanks (all things which Christian Concern and its allied bodies have supported). How is it possible to 'value' your LGBT staff and students and allow this?! What were Exeter thinking?!

Exeter's Rector, an apparently fundamentally incurious economist called Frances Cairncross, seems to have shown no understanding at all in her public statements of the seriousness of the situation in which she finds herself. There needed to be a grovelling apology and a cancellation, immediately. Instead, Cairncross---who seems adept at pouring soothing oil onto troubled flames---released a statement of stump-like immovability, saying, effectively: 'they've agreed to abide by our rules while they're in College, but we're not going to check.' Perhaps we'll see neo-nazis at Exeter next, hosting conferences on the enduring value ofThe Protocols of the Elders of Zion. After all, the College has to make money somehow, and if such people abide by the College's rules while they are under its roof, what's the problem?

The bottom line: if Cairncross is not considering her position as Rector, she damn well should be.

9 comments:

Suem said...

I'd be livid as well! I am very happy to be working in a sicth form college where LGBT rights of staff and students are taken very seriously.

Bo said...

Good! Thanks, excellent to have a sane Christian voice on this.

Cerdo said...

I wonder how "in touch" the Rector at Exeter is to allow an organanisation that officiates such extremism of views to infiltrate the University. Any organisation that encourages the proliferation of such hatred, and to be allowed to use a centre of learning as a pedestal by which to convey such messages is dangerous, never mind damaging, to the reputation of the college and by extention the University as a whole. Worse still is that this is an fundamentalist organisation masquerading as being that of faith, yet has the potential to damage lives rather than inspire and enrich them. Much like you, I too have never stood on any soapbox as to who I am nor my inclinations, but your fury is fully justified.

Yewtree said...

Yes, I am disgusted by this, as well

Steffen said...

I feel compelled to voice my views on this issue. I am myself Christian, but I am not of the same ilk as the intolerant gay-bashers who cloak their prejudice with the words of the Good Book and wrongfully cherry-pick from it to buttress their intolerance. Whenever someone uses the words of Scripture to harass vulnerable people they pervert their own alleged faith and themselves in the process. You have my support in this matter. Keep up the good work.

Bo said...

Thanks Steffen, much appreciated.

Perpetua said...

I'm a retired Anglican priest and Oxford graduate and if this had been my old college I would be ashamed. As it is I'm angry that any Oxford college would put conference income first in a matter like this. Christian Concern is a repellent organisation whose views are certainly not shared by the great majority of Christians I know.

Bo said...

Thanks for your comment, Perpetua. I'm glad.

Christopher Pressler said...

Hi Mark - equally appalled. It would be interesting to see their other views. My personal experience of growing up in groups like this is that they hate everyone not like them. Would the Rector defend their no doubt views on Islam?

Chris

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