Tolerance urged for racial and religious minorities, but not for queers.
London – 2 January 2005
When neo-Nazi homophobe David Copeland bombed the Admiral Duncan gay pub in Soho in 1999, killing three people and mutilating 70 others, the Queen revealed the limits of regal tolerance. In a calculated insult to London’s gay community, she failed to send a message of condolences to the victims and their families.
What is going on when our Head of State cannot bring herself to express sympathy to the gay victims of a terrorist outrage and is unwilling to condemn homophobic hatred and violence?
Public attitudes may have become more gay-accepting, but the views of the House of Windsor seem stuck in Victorian England. Is the Queen a homophobe? It seems so. She has, after all, gone to great lengths to avoid any acknowledgement of the existence of lesbian and gay people. In the Royal lexicon, gay is still the love that dares not speak its name.
During her 53-year reign, Her Majesty has never publicly uttered the word gay or homosexual. Why not? During her annual Queen’s Speech in Parliament she has on several occasions announced gay rights legislation, such as the equalisation of the age of consent. But she always studiously evades any mention of the G word. Why?
This evasion is all the more curious because tolerance was the theme of the Monarch’s recent Christmas Message. Seeking to present an inclusive, liberal image of the Royal Family, she paid tribute to the many diverse races and faiths that make up modern Britain. Good PR move. Except that by restricting her appeal for tolerance to “race, creed or colour,” she sent a signal that her tolerance does not extend to queers – and others.
The Palace says the Queen cannot be a homophobe. Look at all the gay staff she employs. So what? Is having queer servants proof of an absence of prejudice? I think not. Examine the way Elisabeth Windsor has treated her gay employees. Until a few years ago, there was a ban on Palace staff bringing same-sex partners to the annual Royal Household Christmas Ball. This Monarchy-sanctioned homophobia was overturned only after the gay rights group OutRage! protested outside Buckingham Palace. Shamed by public exposure, the same-sex partner ban was lifted. But why did it take an OutRage! demo to force the Queen to drop her discrimination? Gay staff should have bought an employment discrimination suit. They should have, but they couldn’t. The Queen is exempt from equality legislation. She can discriminate with impunity. The Monarchy is above the law and out of touch with modern standards of civilised behaviour.
Her Majesty’s homophobia extends to her own family. Deep down, she evidently thinks being gay is dreadful. Otherwise, she would gladly acknowledge her gay family members. The Queen has, however, given no indication she is willing to accept openness and honesty by gay Windsors.
She treats her distinguished gay subjects no better. While most of the recent New Year’s Honours were awarded on the advice of the Prime Minister, let’s not pretend the Queen has no input. She hands out MBEs and Knighthoods to every time-serving flunkey for no other reason than because they did their job. Why has there never been an honour bestowed on pioneers of the gay rights movement, such as Allan Horsfall and Antony Grey? These two men campaigned tirelessly in the 1950s and 60s – making huge financial sacrifices and risking arrest and imprisonment – to pave the way for the freedoms that lesbians and gay men now enjoy. Champions of queer human rights, they stand head and shoulders above the typical honours recipient in terms of vision, dedication and courage. Their omission is further evidence of the corruption and bias of the honours system – and why it should be abolished.
God save the Queen? No thanks. Someone please save us queens from that Queen. She is not my Queen. How can she be, when she backs anti-gay discrimination?