Johann Hari’s column this month in Attitude magazine expresses horror at the continuing media presence of Stephen Green, head of the campaign group Christian Voice. Green, you might remember, led the campaign against Jerry Springer: The Opera, which led to much of the show’s UK tour being cancelled a few years ago.
Hari argues that it’s shocking Green remains frequently quoted and interviewed on TV and radio, considering his support for the murder of gay people.
Do you deserve to be killed for being gay? Should you be hanged, or shot, or electrocuted? In Britain today, a man who believes you should be – and who actively supports the on-going campaign to hunt down and kill gay people in Africa – is being given prime-time TV slots by the BBC and Channel Four. When Elton John had a baby, he was given the main response on the flagship Six O’Clock News. He is in the rolodex of all the “moral discussion” programs, wheeled on whenever we inch closer to equality for gay people. He is Taken Seriously, and treated as a neutral commentator by shows like Question Time and newspapers like the Daily Mail. His name is Stephen Green, and if he had his way, you’d be reading this from death row.
Now, I like Johann Hari. But he does get a bit carried away sometimes, and I wondered what evidence he’d cite for Green’s pro-murder views. It comes, it turns out, from a newsletter Christian Voice sent out last year. In it, Green appears to write approvingly about Uganda’s proposed law introducing the death penalty for gay sex in some circumstances: “The Bible prescribes precisely the penalty [Ugandan MP David] Bahati is proposing for sodomy in any situation, whether or not ‘aggravated.’”
Crikey. But I was still sceptical. Noting the Bible’s support for something isn’t the same as endorsing it yourself; some deeply religious people have separated themselves from the nuttier aspects of the chosen faith’s holy texts. So I fished out the newsletter, fully expecting to find a qualification that let Green off the hook.
Spoiler alert: nope.