BBC’s Evan Davis: Grayling comments not ‘homophobic’

Wed, 28 Apr 2010

It is not “homophobic” to say Christian B&Bs should be allowed to act upon their conscience over giving double beds to same-sex couples, a homosexual BBC presenter says.

Evan Davis, a host on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme and openly homosexual, says he is also “sceptical” about the “gay rights agenda”.

He was being interviewed by The Times and was asked about the comments made a few weeks ago by senior Tory Chris Grayling.

Conscience

Mr Grayling had said that Christians should be allowed some liberty of conscience over who stays in a double bed if they run a B&B in their own home.

His comments provoked outrage from Labour and the Lib Dems at the time, with Alan Johnson calling for him to be sacked.

Rights

Mr Davis, a BBC Radio Four presenter, told The Times newspaper that he respected the right of people to say, “I don’t have to put you up in my house”.

Asked if he would be “furious to be turned away” from a B&B, Mr Davis said: “Do you know, I wouldn’t”.

He continued: “I demand that people tolerate me but I absolutely do not demand that they like me and I completely respect the right of people to say, ‘I don’t have to put you up in my house’.”

Mr Davis, who presents Radio Four’s Today Programme alongside veteran BBC broadcaster John Humphrys, said he would not wish to use the show to promote a ‘gay rights’ agenda.

Sceptical

He added that he was “instinctively a tiny bit more sceptical” about the ‘gay rights’ agenda than many.

Responding to a question about whether he has ever used his sexual orientation to make a point in an interview, he said: “I don’t think I have.

“I think it might be a tad self-obsessed to talk about my own sexuality — there aren’t that many of us, really”, he continued.

Chris Grayling received an onslaught of criticism when his comments, which were secretly recorded at an event, were leaked to the media.

In the recording Mr Grayling said: “I took the view that if it’s a question of somebody who’s doing a B&B in their own home, that individual should have the right to decide who does and who doesn’t come into their own home.

Dividing line

“If they are running a hotel on the High Street, I really don’t think that it is right in this day and age that a gay couple should walk into a hotel and be turned away because they are a gay couple, and I think that is where the dividing line comes.”

His comments follow a case last month involving the Christian owners of a B&B in Berkshire who said they would not give a double bed to a same-sex couple. The owners may be sued by the couple.

An openly homosexual Assistant Editor at The Daily Telegraph, Neil Midgley, commented at the time: “As both a gay man and a libertarian, I can’t tell you how furious I get when these issues pop up.

Freedom

“My view boils down to this. As a citizen of this country, I have rights which I hold more dear and for which I will speak out more fiercely than my right to take another man to a B&B for the weekend.

“Those more fundamental rights include my property rights in my flat, as well as freedom of speech and freedom of association.

“Labour, by contrast – and in the name of ‘equality’, which is always good for a laugh – has decided it has the absolute right to tell every single citizen of this country what to think.”

Dumped

Earlier this week the Conservative Party moved swiftly to deselect a candidate who said homosexual conduct is not “normal” and he wouldn’t encourage children to indulge in it.

Philip Lardner, a primary school teacher, was standing for the Tories in North Ayrshire and Arran.

He said on his website that churches should not be forced to have practising homosexual clergy and Christians should not be penalised for politely saying that homosexuality is ‘wrong’.

The Tory leader David Cameron spoke of the speed with which he decided to suspend Mr Lardner: “I couldn’t have acted quicker – decisive action in minutes of finding out about this.”