The Leaders' Debate, Nigel Farage and HIV
I tend to shy away from watching too much politics on TV. Being involved in politics myself I tend to find I learn very little that's new from the interviews, debates, audience questioning they entail.
I did start watching the General Election Leaders' Debate last night, coming in at the point they were discussing the NHS. A subject close to my heart for a whole range of reasons, not least that it provides our family with it's main source of income through J's employment as a doctor.
During that segment I watched in horror. Anger. Stupefaction at the utterly hideous comments made by Nigel Farage about those people diagnosed with HIV in our country.
There are very many people from outside the UK who obtain treatment in our NHS each year. Many thousands of elderly people receive treatment. Many more arrive requiring maternity care. Oncology. Orthopaedic treatment. Tens of millions of pounds are spent on the care of non UK nationals across a whole range of disciplines.
But Nigel Farage chose to single out those with HIV. Honing in with calculated, merciless, frightening precision on an illness that for his supporters singles out its sufferers automatically as 'not one of our own.'
His choice of disease spoke volumes. 'HIV is a disease that afflicts gay people. Prostitutes. Those who are promiscuous. Black Africans. Not 'nice' people like us.'
Farage has form for this kind of thing. I wrote this open letter to Nigel Farage last year after some comments from one of his party's candidates.
He was called John Lyndon Sullivan and he made this comment on Facebook:
By the way, I love the similey face at the end of that comment. It makes it so much more acceptable don't you think? No? No. Nor do I.
I'm one of those poofters (or 'whatevers').
I'm one who's married. And who, with my husband, has adopted two children. You might therefore understand why I was offended by Farage's Council Candidate's remarks.
You see, I'm gay for the same reason I like the colour blue, love the smell of woodsmoke and hate beetroot. It's part of me. I believe God made me that way.
Certainly, no one persuaded me to like blue, I wasn't 'educated' to like the smell of woodsmoke, I wasn't indoctrinated by beetroot hating adults during my formative years.
The fact is I tried having girlfriends. I tried to conform to the 'norm'. Really, I did. But at the end of the day I just preferred men. And then I had the epiphany of meeting J, my partner.
At that moment my heart leapt. My head spun. My world suddenly seemed so much better, brighter, happier. It really was love at first sight and that love had grown, deepening and widening every day since then.
We 'married'. We then adopted our first child. A little boy, whose previous abuse had been such that he had lost much of the trust he had in women. We, a male couple, were a perfect match for him. Helping our son understand his past. Correcting. Reframing. Reinterpreting the horrors he had seen.
Our daughter, coming from a similar background, has enhanced and enriched our family to all our benefits, most particularly our son's.
Perhaps you can see why my offence is so profound at Farage's Candidate's statement. He condemns my love for my husband. He belittles the love for my family. He makes everything that little bit worse.
And if Mr Lyndon Sullivan would like to shoot a 'poofter' I'd be very happy to offer myself as his target. (I'm hoping his aim isn't great) It would be worth the flesh wound to see how 99 of my gay friends would react to this being played out in front of them.
But then I came across Farage's interview with James O'Brien on LBC Radio. It offended me far more than the original comment.
Mr O'Brien put the comments made by Mr Lyndon Sullivan to Farage and he refused to condemn them.
Farage, refused to apply the same opprobrium you reserved for other of his candidates and members who have made similarly outrageous comments about women and people of colour.
Godfrey Bloom makes misogynistic comments and is expelled from UKIP. William Henwood makes racist comments about Lenny Henry and is forced to resign from the party. Andre Lampitt, used in your election broadcasts, is suspended for making racist comments on twitter.
And yet Nigel Farage refuses to apply the same sanction to a homophobe. A homophobe who advocates shooting people because they are different to him.I think you choose not to condemn Mr Lyndon Sullivan because you know most people in the gay community don't support you anyway. It's therefore politically expedient of you to suggest you have sympathy with those who do agree with Mr Lyndon Sullivan's homophobic views. You bolster your core support that way.
The political cost amongst the gay community is negligible. So it doesn't matter to UKIP or its leader.
But it does matter. It matters very much. Farage's tacit support for a homophobe suggests that it's OK to be homophobic. It's OK to be prejudiced. It's acceptable to despise my lifestyle. It's allowed to discriminate against my family.
And when he didn't condemn Mr Lyndon Sullivan's behaviour it tells people much less pleasant than he that it's OK to continue dreaming of a world where prejudice and discrimination are acceptable and the norm.
Our children have been through so much. They are growing and blossoming in a tolerant, accepting, inclusive community.
Farage's failure to condemn homophobic comments, his consistent choice of easy, prejudiced targets. His role as an apologist for those who discriminate. All of that makes our children's journey just that little bit harder. That little bit more dangerous. That little bit more like the world from which they were rescued.
Shame on him