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Christian pensioner warned by police about ‘hate crime’ for complaining about homosexual pride parade

Printer-friendly version A pensioner was questioned by the police after her local council decided that her complaint about a homosexual pride march amounted to a ‘hate crime incident’, despite the fact that she was verbally abused at the parade.

A pensioner was questioned by the police after her local council decided that her complaint about a homosexual pride march amounted to a ‘hate crime incident’, despite the fact that she was verbally abused at the parade.

Mrs Pauline Howe, 67, a committed Christian, complained to the Norwich City Council that the homosexual event had been allowed to go ahead in the city centre in July. In her letter she wrote: ‘It is shameful that this small, but vociferous lobby should be allowed such a display unwarranted by the minimal number of homosexuals.’

Two officers later turned up at the frightened grandmother’s home and informed her that she may have committed a crime.

After lecturing her about the choice of words, they told her that she will not be prosecuted.

Mrs Howe spoke of her shock at the visit and accused police of 'wasting resources' on her case rather than fighting criminals. She said:

‘I’ve never been in any kind of trouble before so I was stunned to have two police officers knocking at my door.

‘Their presence in my home made me feel threatened. It was a very unpleasant experience. The officers told me that my letter was thought to be an intention to create hatred but I was expressing views as a Christian,’ she added.

(Click here to watch the interview with Mrs Howe)

She said that she is not homophobic, but was simply expressing her deeply held religious beliefs. In reply to her letter, Bridget Buttinger, Deputy Chief Executive Officer at the council, wrote in September warning Mrs Howe that she could face being charged with a criminal offence for expressing such views. Ms Buttinger wrote:

‘As a local authority we have a duty along with other public bodies to eliminate discrimination of all kinds. A hate incident is any incident that is perceived by the victim or any other person as being motivated by prejudice or hatred. A hate crime is any hate incident that constitutes a criminal offence.

‘The content of your letter has been assessed as potentially being hate related because of the views you expressed towards people of a certain sexual orientation. Your details and details of the content of your letter have been recorded as such and passed to the Police’

Mrs Howe’s case is being taken up by the Christian Institute. They are investigating whether the council and the police have breached Mrs Howe’s rights to free speech and religious liberty under the Human Rights Act.

Commenting on the case, Mike Judge, a spokesman for the Institute, said:

‘Whether people agree or disagree with Mrs Howe’s views, everyone who cares about freedom should be alarmed at the police action.

‘For democracy to survive people must be free to express their beliefs – yes, even unpopular beliefs – to government bodies without fear of a knock at the door from the police. It’s not a crime to be a Christian, but it increasingly feels like it.’

(Click here to watch another interview with Mike Judge)

Ben Summerskill, Chief Executive of Stonewall, now the largest homosexual lobby group in Europe, said that Mrs Howe’s views are ‘pretty offensive’, but the actions of the police were ‘disproportionate’.

Norfolk Police defended their treatment of Mrs Howe, saying:

‘We investigate all alleged hate incidents. In this instance the individual concerned was visited by officers, the comments discussed, and no further action was taken.’

In December 2005, Joe and Helen Roberts, another retired Christian couple, were subjected to an 80-minute interrogation by police after they made a polite complaint to their local council about its 'homosexual rights’ policies. The couple asked if Christian literature could be provided next to ‘gay brochures’, but were told no, because it could offend homosexuals. Several days later, they were stunned to be visited by two police officers from Lancashire Constabulary who quizzed them about their beliefs on homosexuality.

(Click here to watch the interview with the Roberts)

In summer this year, Denise Haye, 25, a Christian office worker, was sacked from her job for peacefully expressing her personal views on homosexuality on the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (LGCM) website. Ms Haye wrote that she believes that homosexual practice is contrary to biblical teaching.

(Click here to see the Christian Legal Centre report)

In December 2005, Lynette Burrows, an author and family-values campaigner, said on the BBC Radio 5 Live that she did not believe that adoption by homosexuals was the best approach when raising a child. The following day, she was shocked to receive a telephone call from the police who said a member of the public had made a complaint about her 'homophobic' comments. Mrs Burrows says the police officer proceeded to read her a 'lecture about homophobia', despite not having committed a crime.

The list of similar cases continues.

Recently, the Foreign Affairs Committee, chaired by Mike Gapes, a pro-European Labour MP for Ilford South, pressed for the change in the constitutions of Britain’s far-flung outposts amid claims that references to traditional Christian morality could undermine homosexual rights in the overseas territories and objected to Christianity being singled out above other faiths.

(See the CCFON report)

In September this year, a recent draft report on sex education, drawn up by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization, said that children as young as five should be taught, among other controversial subjects, about explicit sex acts and homosexuality. The draft was strongly criticised by politicians and activists.

(See the CCFON report)

It was also reported in May this year that the ancient city of Canterbury in Kent has found itself the subject of a complaint from homosexual rights activists for not having homosexual bars and a homosexuals’ community centre. The complaint was lodged with the Local Government Ombudsman by the Pride in Canterbury pressure group, which also complained about the ‘stereotypical’ depiction of a homosexual character in a play staged at the city’s Marlowe theatre. After a two-month investigation, costing thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money, the Local Government Ombudsman decided that Canterbury does enough to promote homosexual culture and rejected the complaint.

Media links

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Evening News (Norwich)