Labour ‘lazy and wrong’ over anti-gay bullying, says IBTimes journalist

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A journalist for the International Business Times has criticised Labour’s new drive to tackle homophobic bullying.

On Tuesday, Shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt announced that the party will make Sex and Relationship Education (SRE) compulsory in all state schools, and that it plans to crack down on homophobic bullying.

Mr Hunt said: “The presence of homophobic bullying in our classrooms, playgrounds and dinner halls is deeply troubling, and it is very real. The use of homophobic language and other forms of homophobic bullying is damaging the life chances of so many young people.

“It has a daily effect that limits learning, and causes people long term damage. There is no place for it in our society – and never should it be ignored in our schools. Schools have a duty to show a zero tolerance approach to the use of homophobic language and bullying.”

In response, William Dove, a journalist for the International Business Times, denounced the plans as “lazy and wrong”.

He wrote: “Many people have spoken passionately about the evils of homophobic bullying and one cannot really disagree with the fact that it is a horrible experience for the victims and should not happen. What these people forget though is that bullying in schools happens to all kinds of people and it is equally terrible for all victims.

“The same is true of so-called ‘Hate crimes’ (does anyone commit a crime with love for the victim as a motive?). One only needs to think logically for a moment to realise the stupidity of the idea that some crimes are worse because they involve racism, homophobia or some other prejudice.”

Using the 1993 murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence in his argument, Mr Dove commented: “It may be a little vulgar to put it like this, but does anyone believe that in his final moments Stephen Lawrence was thinking it would be preferable his attackers were black rather than white?

“Would it have been less bad if he’d been murdered by black people? Would it had have been better if the victims in Rochdale had been raped by a gang of white British people or had themselves been Pakistanis?

“The exact same principle applies at the other end of the severity scale. Does the miserable bullied gay schoolboy think to himself ‘if only they’d bullied me for being weedy, spotty or good at maths?’ Conversely does the miserable bullied weedy, spotty or good at maths child think to him or herself, ‘that was bad but at least it wasn’t homophobic?’”

In an article last year, Mr Dove suggested that the term ‘homophobia’ should be restricted from use under the basis that it was not on par with a “genuine mental problem” such as “arachnophobia”.

He wrote: “As it happens I’m not particularly in favour of gay marriage, or burkas or on some of the more, err, forceful versions of Islam. This might make me in some people’s eyes a ‘homophobe’ and an ‘Islamophobe’.

“This is ludicrous. If my (not particularly strong) feelings on gay marriage and burkas indicated a phobia of gays or Muslims I would not be able to take the train as I’d be terrified that the person next to me was (horror of horrors!) gay or Muslim.”