It was with great pride that I recently accompanied my partner, daughter and grand daughter on Sheffield’s first gay pride march.
Along with many others we celebrated the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people and acknowledging how far we have come in our recognition of equal rights for these communities. It was an emotional march; a family occasion and a real celebration of this diverse and colourful city of ours.
It was with deep sadness and disappointment, Bishop Croft, that I then saw you some weeks later on national television in a Sheffield studio, condemning the idea of gay marriage. I tried so hard to comprehend your arguments, but try as I might I failed to understand your reasons for being so vociferous in your condemnation of people who are of the same sex, in love, and wish to marry. The main argument you had was that every marriage service starts by spelling out that marriage is a union between one man and one woman. That sounded to me like a custom and a practice; tantamount to saying it is right because we have always done it that way. There are many traditional practices that as a society we have accepted no longer have meaning in our modern world.
Whilst I respect your right to your views I struggle to understand why the idea of same sex marriage is so abhorrent to you. I know lots of committed Christians who would disagree with your interpretation of the scriptures. Other than worrying about people of the same sex in loving relationships wishing to marry, I wonder whether there aren’t more pressing matters you could be addressing.
I read with horror only the other day, the news report on the BBC of four men imprisoned in South Africa for the stabbing and stoning to death of a lesbian in a brutal homophobic attack.
As you know homophobic attacks and murders are not confined to Africa and there are such incidences in our own cities and towns. We know, too, that young people still commit suicide because they are the victims of homophobia.
Your appearance on national television was a great opportunity for you to support challenging homophobia and transphobia; a chance for you to promote this great city of ours as one which prides itself on its long history of embracing diversity and celebrating differences; a city with its vision set very clearly on the future not in the past. Perhaps you could have taken a leaf out of the book of the former Bishop, Desmond Tutu, who is a great role model in Africa. He once said: ‘I am deeply disturbed that in the face of the some of the most horrendous problems facing Africa, we concentrate on ‘what we do in bed’.
From your privileged and highly respected position you have a great opportunity to show leadership and make a positive change.
Why not concentrate a little less on what gay people do in bed and a little more on protecting people from such types of homophobic hatred and abuse? Just a small gesture from you would go such a long way.
(The views contained in this letter are personal and are not necessarily representative of any other organisation).
Clifford Road, S11