We were going to get the train, and were the only people on the down escalator at Leicester Square. On the up escalator was a line of people. As we started down we began to hear a man on the other side muttering “Queers”. He looked at me as we passed, then started shouting repeatedly, “Batty boys”. My sangfroid flipped, and after a while I turned round and shouted at him to shut up. At this he got really enraged. “Fucking poofs, fucking queers – if I was that side I’d come and break your necks”. All the other passengers were silent, perhaps embarrassed and a bit frightened. One elderly man turned round as we disappeared and said “Don’t listen to him”. Our abuser was a very large black man.
Yesterday Anglican Global South Primates published a reaction to the news that civilly-partnered gay men in the Church of England may be considered candidates for the episcopate. They write: “We, Primates of the Global South of the Anglican Communion, are deeply concerned and worried by the recent decision of the Church of England’s House of Bishops which approves that clergy livingin civil partnerships can be candidates to the episcopate.There is already an ambiguity regarding civil partnerships per se. We learnt that most civil partnerships, according to the Office for National Statistics in the UK, take place among the most sexually active age group. In addition dissolutions of civil partnerships are now increasing especially in the last few years. This puts into question the motives behind this civil partnership and adds to our confusion in the Global South.”
In their comments these men have nothing positive to say to the gay lesbian bisexual and transgendered Christians of their own countries. All they say clearly regards gay people entirely negatively. We know that some of them, by their teaching, give succour to people who abuse, persecute and attack LGBT citizens in their own countries. Their relentless negativity communicates very clearly a message that gay people are a lesser breed, whose safety, freedoms and dignity can be trampled on at will. They are aided in this by right-wing homophobes of an extreme kind from the UK and the USA, whose hate sites and briefings pour out an unremitting stream of the most negative propaganda that they can manage.
If the Global South Primates were to protest that this is not what they Intend to do, then they had better pay more attention to what they say. Years of negativity will only be erased by some serious apologies, some heartfelt reaching out, and the courage to stand against the deadly social attitudes of their compatriots. Our abuser on the Tube probably broke some laws this morning, using threatening language, homphobic language, and threatening violence. It was nasty and distressing, but if push came to shove, the law is on our side. But it is not like that around the world. Until Global South Primates realise what effect their nasty theological scruples have in the lives of a persecuted minority, who are harrassed and hunted for being themselves, then they are only a slightly politer, religiously smug version of our crude abuser this morning.