Cameron was trying to defend gays, not smear them

PM’s inadvertent mix up over gay people & paedophilia

London – MSN – 8 November 2012

Peter Tatchell, Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation, writes:

Prime Minister David Cameron has come under fire for linking gay people with child sex abuse during a TV discussion about the current paedophile scandal.

He was grilled today on the ITV programme, This Morning, by presenter Philip Schofield, and remarked:

“There is a danger, if we’re not careful, that this could turn into a sort of witch-hunt, particularly against people who are gay and I’m worried about the sort of thing you are doing right now – giving me a list of names that you’ve taken off the internet.”

Mr Cameron said people who had information about anyone who was a child sex abuser – “no matter how high up in British society they are” – should go to the police. “That’s what the police are for,” he said.

According to the BBC, Downing Street officials later explained that Mr Cameron’s fears about a homophobic “witch-hunt” were prompted by his objection to online gossip that associated homosexuality with paedophilia and that made unproven claims of paedophilia against well known gay public figures, including Conservative politicians.

A senior aide to the prime minister said innocent people who were not connected to the current child abuse investigations were being traduced by an online witch-hunt. It is wrong to smear gay people with unfounded allegations, said a Downing Street spokesperson.

The list of names of alleged paedophiles handed by Schofield to Cameron during this morning’s interview apparently included prominent past and present gay Tory MPs, but with no actual evidence, let alone proof, of their guilt.

In these circumstances, perhaps the Prime Minister’s words were understandable and reasonable. He was reacting to unsubstantiated internet allegations and what looks like a scatter-gun denunciation of gay top Tories.

Viewers who were unaware of this full context may, however, have interpreted Cameron’s words and intentions very differently. His mention of gay people and an anti-gay witch-hunt was unexpected and unprompted. Schofield had not mentioned any gay involvement.

This led many members of the public to believe the Prime Minister was linking homosexuality with paedophilia – which is probably not what he intended to suggest.

Inadvertently and unfortunately, Cameron reinforced the prejudice that associates gay people with child sex abuse.

At this stage, based on known evidence, there is no reason why anyone should link the current paedophile scandals with gay people. The police investigations concern paedophilia, not homosexuality.

Most child sex abuse involves heterosexual men and young girls; usually within the family. Homosexuality and paedophilia are two very different sexual attractions. Gay people are not paedophiles.

NOTE: This is an edited version of the article published on MSN News on 8 November 2012.