Sir Gerald Howarth: ‘I should have used ‘militant’ rather than ‘aggressive’ to describe homosexuals

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Responding to a letter from a reader, Conservative MP and former defence minister Sir Gerald Howarth says he should have used the word “militant” rather than “aggressive” when describing parts of the “homosexuality community.”

The Aldershot MP warned of the dangers of the “aggressive homosexual community” during the Commons debate on the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill on Monday evening.

Margot James, the first out lesbian Tory MP to be elected said gay rights legislation had necessarily “levelled the playing field” to ensure “outrageous verbal aggression” directed at gay people would stop.

But Sir Gerald replied: “I warn her, I fear the playing field is not being levelled I believe the pendulum is swinging so far the other way, and there are plenty in the aggressive homosexual community who see this as but a stepping stone to something even further.”

Stuart Andrew, the gay Conservative MP for Pudsey, previously a victim of homophobic crime in 1997, criticised Sir Gerald ahead of Tuesday’s successful third reading of the bill.

Speaking to his local newspaper, Sir Gerald defended the remarks and claimed he had the backing of some of his constituents.

When asked by a reader to explain what he meant by an “aggressive homosexual community” and what equal marriage was a “stepping stone” to, Sir Gerald issued the following response:-

In my response to my colleague Margot James, I had to be brief as many MPs wished to speak. I sought to distinguish between honourable people like Margot as against a number of people in the gay rights community for whom this bill is but a stepping stone towards further change. For example, Chris Ashford, a Reader in Law and Society at the University of Sunderland said recently:

“There remain numerous sexual freedoms to campaign on – yes sexual – that’s what gay rights is about, not merely a civil rights campaign – and there are battles still to be won. Battles relating to pornography, the continued criminalisation of consensual sexual acts, re-constructing our ideas of relationships in relation to sex, monogamy and the illusion that only ‘couples’ might want to enter into a state-sanctioned partnership, are just a handful which spring to mind.

“The marriage bill should be welcomed, but it is not the end of the journey, or the final piece in a jigsaw. It is just another step – albeit a significant one- on a never-ending journey” (emphasis added).

Yesterday, Peter Tatchell posted an article on his website seeking to do away with marriage altogether:

“I’ve proposed a radical alternative to marriage – a civil commitment pact – where a person can nominate as next-of-kin and beneficiary any ‘significant other’ in their life and where a couple can select from a menu of rights and responsibilities to create a partnership agreement tailor-made to suit their own particular needs. Given the huge variety of modern relationships and lifestyles, this flexible system of relationship recognition is much more appropriate than the one-size-fits-all model of marriage and civil partnerships.”

Perhaps a better way of describing this tendency would be militant but I hope I have made the point that we can expect demands for more change which would seriously destabilise our society.