Britain needs to rethink “identity politics” and learn to live with those who have traditional views on marriage and gender, an ex-equality chief has warned.
Trevor Phillips, former head of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, made the comments in a wide-ranging Channel 4 documentary.
Cautioning that Britain was at risk of ‘failing the acid test of a democracy’, he heard from people who felt that speaking up for traditional marriage was a risk.
Paul Embery, Regional Secretary of the Fire Brigades Union in London, said while people may not be banned from saying certain things, there is a strong disincentive to break with the politically correct orthodoxy.
He said that people who believe in marriage between one man and one woman feel that “if you dare say that”, “you’re going to invite buckets of slime to be poured over your head”.
And former UKIP leader Nigel Farage acknowledged that on a range of issues, including same-sex marriage, gender and creationism, people with traditional views “find themselves being routinely abused”.
“It is actually quite respectable for people to hold different opinions”, he added.
The programme also heard from a transsexual activist, Paris Lees, who opposed the feminist Germaine Greer speaking at a university event, over Greer’s views on transsexualism.
“If only we could shut these old bigots up”, said Lees, before dismissing free speech arguments as “moronic”.
The former equality chief – Phillips stepped down from the role in 2012 – has acknowledged that he has begun to question his own views over the years.
Christian B&B owners
In 2010 the equality Commission funded a case against Christian B&B owners Peter and Hazelmary Bull who restricted double rooms to married couples.
The following year the Commission apologised for a remark that implied Christian moral values are like an ‘infection’ that could harm children.