Sunday, 28 December 2008

Gay care home residents have a right to express their memories too

Posted on Independent Minds, 28 December 2008

There’s an article in the Mail on Sunday today which does everything I detest about the Mail newspapers. It makes up an issue out of nothing, manipulates headlines in order to generate as much outrage as possible, and treats gay people as less than human. The headline to the piece is Home for retired missionaries loses grant - because it won't ask residents if they are lesbians.

What happened was this: Brighton & Hove has reduced funding to a Christian care home for the elderly, because it wouldn’t demonstrate that it was an inclusive community. Residents were not forced to declare their adherence, or otherwise, to the charms of lesbianism.

I can imagine how a council officer could turn a genuinely important enquiry - does this care home, which is a recipient of public money, meet the needs of all of Brighton’s residents? - into an exercise in officious form-filling. But that’s not the point. Brighton & Hove council didn’t demand that residents announce their orientation against their will, and nor, pace the Mail’s hysteria, did it force an enquiry into their current or previous sexual histories. The points are these:

  • Gay people are as likely to be residents of care homes, per capita, as anyone else.
  • All of us fund care homes through the fees paid by Councils.
Some of ‘all of us’, at least, are gay, and have a vested interest in learning whether or not our money is being spent appropriately. Appropriately, in this situation (for the benefit of MoS readers) means according gay residents the same amount of dignity as would be accorded anyone else. Any care home which refuses to contemplate the very existence of homosexual residents is clearly not meeting this appropriate requirement and should forfeit its claim to taxpayers’ money.

If you think I’m over-reacting, read this:

[Phil Wainwright, director of human resources for Pilgrim Homes] said: ‘We have every reason to believe that we have given places to gay Christians, and no questions were ever asked.’

I read this to mean: we tolerate homosexuals living here, so long as they shut up about their love lives prior to their arrival. They’ll be expected to keep their mouths shut when other people talk about their marriages, and not disgrace our Christian ethos by correctly labelling their relationship with anyone who comes to visit them.

Not a penny of my money, thank you, to fund an organisation which believes that asking ‘no questions’ of the people in its care is an adequate discharge of its Christian ethos.

1 comment:

Arrman Mia said...


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