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Hate is all the rage

Here’s one for you – what do a high-minded international literary festival and the shrieking members of a tiny religious cult have in common?


Answer – homophobia!


While the people, language and general manner of each could not be more different there is a basic overlap in these two stories in today’s news – the first reported in the Guardian as ‘literary festival in censorship row and the second in The Sun as ‘Sickos Barred from UK’.


The inaugural Dubai-based Emirates Airline international festival of literature has banned a british book, The Gulf Between Us, from the event because of organisers’ concerns that its discussion of Islam, the Iraq war and inclusion of a gay character might offend local ‘cultural sensitivities’.


What group should you really know better than to try and censor? Of course a stream of big international literary names are now pulling out, with the truly brilliant Margaret Atwood (Alias Grace is my favourite of her novels, having read almost all of them – comments welcome!) leading the way.


Meanwhile, two members of the frankly weird Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas have been turned away from the UK last night by border control and prevented from demonstrating outside a Basingstoke school against a play about homophobia. These people, made famous by Louis Theroux, notoriously demonstrate at the funerals of US servicemen with placards saying that the casualties the US is suffering in Iraq are God’s punishment for acceptance of homosexuality.


So you can dress it up with books, authors, literary launches and cultural sensitivity, or you can scream yourself mute with some hasty placards scrawled with hate – but it comes down to the same thing. A lot of people still have a problem with what consenting adults do in private. Get over it.

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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