Local newspaper defends column telling LGBT people to ‘shut up’ after launch of Pride event

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A newspaper on the Isle of Wight has defended a controversial column that responded to the launch of a local Pride event by telling LGBT people to “shut up”.

The Isle of Wight County Press published the opinion piece by columnist Charlotte Hofton, following the announcement that a local LGBT group will hold a Pride event for the first time.

It was announced last week that a Pride event will take place on the island, located off the south coast of the England, on Saturday, 15 July.

Responding to the event in the County Press, Ms Hofton wrote: “[I] wish we could reach the stage where not being straight would be so unremarkable and so accepted that there would no longer be a need for all this carry-on.

“I couldn’t care less what people do in their private lives. Do it whatever which way you like. Enjoy yourselves, especially if you’d prefer not to say what you’re enjoying yourselves with. But do you think the rest of you could shut up as well?

“You can’t open a paper or tune into Woman’s Hour without somebody feeling constrained to tell the world that he is now a she, or they’re gay or bi or have discovered the joy of tantric sex with a lamppost.

“I turned to the gardening column of a national paper the other day, hoping for a little oasis of sex-free advice on potagers, only to find the columnist enthusing about how brilliant it’s been coming out as a lesbian, even though it put the kibosh on her marriage.

“Days later there was a former Bake-Off contestant going on about how she loves consorting with both men and women (‘a kind of effervescent magic’ was how she put it). Well, I’m really happy for you, dearie, but I kind of wish you’d stuck to giving us your coffee cake recipe.

“I know, I know. It’s been so horrid for you in times past, you can’t help shouting out to the world now you’re liberated. And I do understand — sort of.

“I wish the IW Pride rally every success but could we make a deal? If we all agree to be nice to you and ultra-tolerant and keep up with the latest terminology, could you just stick to July 15 for that deafening bells and whistles showing-off bit?”

In a response to a deluge of complaints about the column today, Isle of Wight County Press editor Alan Marriott defended the piece.

He said: “I am sorry the County Press upset and offended the LGBTQ+ community. It was certainly not what we intended. Many people would have disagreed with Charlotte’s views.

“However, I believe it is better to air views we disagree with, debate and challenge them rather than censor them.

“I would ask those complaining to read the article carefully before thinking too badly of Ms Hofton.

“What she is saying in this column is she disagrees with the public discussion of sexuality but she believes it is everyone’s right to live their life as they wish.

“The County Press has been right behind the idea of an Island Pride event ever since it was first mentioned to me by somebody interested in organising one last year.”

“I personally think it is a great idea and it will have the paper’s full support.”

Mr Marriott added that the newspaper will dedicate a letters page to the issue to “give those in the LGBTQ+ community the chance to respond to the column”.

A politician on the Isle of Wight recently insisted he wants to hire bathroom attendants to keep out homosexuals and pigeons. He later retracted the comments.

In August, the chair of education watchdog Ofsted was forced to resign earlier this year after calling the Isle of Wight a “ghetto” full of “inbreeding”.

The Isle of Wight, located off the Hampshire coast, has a population of 140,000.

Actress Emma Thompson famously upset Isle of Wight residents in 2010 after joking that they stone gay people and shoot the Irish.

She made the quip when TV host Craig Ferguson described Santa Catalina, an island off the California coast, as “”kind of like the Isle of Wight”.

She joked: “Oh, so they stone homosexuals there? Nice.

“I think they are still allowed to flog them, which of course some of them enjoy. I think they are allowed to shoot Irish or Scottish people if they arrive on the island – it is still in the rules.

“They are allowed to torture people. It’s lovely, you should go.”