Gays, the churches and the right

When Cameron fluffs his lines in a Gay Times interview, he points to the wider problem that the modernising right has with homosexuality
Kim Andersen
28 March 2010

David Cameron recorded this interview with Gay Times, which exemplifies the confusion of the right over how to treat homosexuality. Cameron is not sure whether he should be human-rightist, libertarian, identitarian or just sufficiently unclear to both appear reforming and preserve his more old-fashioned base. Cameron's line-fluff is actually rather refreshing, but so rare that it points to the wider fault-line.



All over Europe and probably the rest of the world gay rights are on the agenda. One issue is whether same sex marriages should be legalised. In Europe as well as in the United States this issue attracts much debate. Tory leader David Cameron says his party has been on a journey towards greater openness on gay partnerships. A move all conservative parties have to take, he claims. In Denmark the Conservatives have undertaken such journey and abandoned their prior negative stance on same sex marriages although they will not give it the same legal status as a heterosexual marriage. In Sweden only the Christian Democrats opposed same sex marriage, and today hetero- as well as homosexuals can get married in the church. In Germany, however, things are not as pink as in the neigbouring countries. The Christian Social Union has called it the greatest attack on marriage as an institution. In France similar discussions have taken place.

While the politicians often use theological arguments against same sex marriages as in the Danishand German cases, the respective churches have completely different views. While many American states ban same sex marriages, the Episcopal Church promotes gay priests. The state controlled Church of Denmark allows vicars to bless gay couples. In Sweden same sex marriages in the church are allowed, but not all vicars want to go through with the ceremony. The German church seems to be in a void similar to the secular society. A German vicar has been removed from his parish when he blessed a gay couple. Just like the German church the English church seems to be divided on the issue. This division might be a thing of the past since the House of Lords have approved a new bill that outlaw bias towards minority groups – including homosexuals.

It is interesting to try to understand why the pre-modernising right has such deep homophobic tendencies. There is, after all, nothing that goes against tradition in homosexuality. It may be that homosexuality is seen as a threat to social order because of the hedonism associated with it: social order cannot survive so much enjoyment.

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