LGBT Pride and Prejudice

I greatly respect and usually agree with Evan Harris and I know that he has actively championed measures to make LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people less unequal.  However, I’m afraid that he (http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/political-science/2011/jan/25/political-science-evan-harris-advisory-committees)  and other “liberal” commentators are wrong when they take issue with the appointment of Hans-Christian Raabe to the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) on the basis of his not being clinically qualified (which I find odd, as a practising GP he must bring useful perspectives), but don’t consider that his and his colleagues’ odious and highly unscientific views about LGBT people are relevant.

Evan and others are colluding with a position where it is acceptable to hold and express repellent views about the LGBT minority which they would find unacceptable, were they to be expressed about other groups, such as women (even at Sky, ask Andy Gray) or black people (ask any non-Daily Mail reader).

Previously, when discussing drug classification, the ACMD considered at length its role in giving out public signals, especially to young people, about harms of different drugs and usually concluded that it was important to take this into consideration. Well, with this appointment and many of the arguments being voiced about it LGBT young people and others are being sent a clear signal. Imagine, if you can, an argument being made that it didn’t matter whether a fellow committee member had linked black people with paedophiles, it’s the committee member’s professional experience that counts, anything else is irrelevant. It simply wouldn’t happen if suggested links with paedophilia had informed prejudiced public discourses about black people, as they have done for many years in relation to gay men.

Of course, Melanie Phillips has waded in to express her concern about the ‘demonised’ Christian community, echoing previously voiced concerns by Dr. Raabe himself (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-1349951/Gayness-mandatory-schools-Gay-victims-prejudice-new-McCarthyites.html).  This woman has the uncanny ability to articulate the polar opposite of what I usually believe, despite her alleged concern about many of the same issues which worry me, issues that affect young people and communities, including drugs and alcohol, violence, bullying, anti-social behaviour, community engagement and responsibility.

Many of my family and friends would consider themselves to be Christians but they would hold no truck with the homophobic bigots who have colonised Christian public discourse. Melanie, however, trades on being extreme and controversial; it sells papers. But promotion of such views also damages people’s lives and leads to bullying and in still too many cases, depression, self harm and suicide.  However, though unacceptable, in a way it’s easier to deal with than the acceptance and normalisation by usually unprejudiced people of the bigoted positions of others.

I was in a seminar last week where someone was sounding off about what she perceived as the unacceptability of discussion of religion in social situations nowadays. Without any irony, she suggested that religion had become “The love that dare not speak its name”. I wish Oscar Wilde were here to respond to such rubbish. Every day LGBT people and women are treated to bigoted argumentations based on asserted religious beliefs about how we should conduct our lives and what rights we should or shouldn’t have.

And to get back to the ACMD, ideally, it should be a committee with the best representation of scientists, researchers and professionals for it to give good advice about drugs, with a public health focus. Dr Raabe has co-authored a vile paper that asserted:  

“Any attempts to legalise gay marriage should be aware of the link between homosexuality and paedophilia. While the majority of homosexuals are not involved in paedophilia, it is of grave concern that there is a disproportionately greater number of homosexuals among paedophiles and an overlap between the gay movement and the movement to  make paedophilia acceptable.” http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/homosexuality/ho0095.html

Being a member of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs is an important public office. It should not be acceptable to hold such an office and to express and publish offensive statements against LGBT people or any other minority group.

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9 responses to “LGBT Pride and Prejudice

  1. Thank you Eric! You are a gem! I too am very disturbed by Raabe’s scapegoat strategy! Mx

  2. Jacques Cartier

    I’ve been been thrown out of better clubs than the acmd.

  3. thanks for this Eric

    It seems to me that there have been several issues raised with Raabe

    1. That he is Christian
    2. That he doesnt have the requesite experience re drugs
    3. That he isnt published in peer reviewed journals
    4. That he has political affiliations
    5. That he is ideologically opposed to harm reduction
    7. That he has campaigned against the ACMD and cannabis reclassification
    8. That he is homophobic / bigoted

    Dealing with each of these in turn:
    1 His religious faith isnt relevant, and there are plenty of Christians on the council. You would expect, however, that some extreme anti-science ideological views that come with some religious group, christian or other, might be cause for concern for the appointments panel.

    2 + 3 You would expect that appointments to the committee would have a high level of experience and expertise in the field. Raabe doesnt, so this is a concern. He is, however, a GP who undoubtedly deals with drug users and has engaged in the public debate in the past, to a degree. I also disagree with Harris that peer reviewed publications are the key factor here. The ACMD is infact not specifically a scientific committee (it has a much broader mandate) even though it has, and certainly need the requisit scientific expertise represented on it to produce scientific reports. But it also has police and judges on it for example. I would like to see some drug/service users on it personally, but would not expect them to have published academic papers. So – I dont think his lack of experience is a deal breaker but I can think of many GPs better qualified – not least specialist drug clinic GPs. Maybe they didnt apply (only one other did I am told) – but then after the last couple of years – who would?

    5. Political affiliations – I dont think this is a problem. He is no longer affiliated and declared his intersts in the application. I dont care for his former party – but then I dont care for any political parties much.

    6. This is much more of a problem. Alot of things come under the banner of harm reduction so again its hard to generalise – but the apparent ideological opposition to harm reduction in principal seems dangerous and extreme. Even the most vigorous advocates of prevention/abstinence acknowledge a role for harm reduction in some circumstances. The idea that harm reduction and prevention/abstinece are mutually exclusive is also nonsense – and some of the implications that the committee dont care about prevention and reject all abstinence treatment, equally so. Should this disqualify him from the council? No, but again – given the centrality of the principal in UK, international and UN policy and practice and the overwhelming body of evidence in its support – I would have thought it would have counted heavily against him (disgreeing on the detail of how HR is implemented is very different ofcourse). This is why, for me it feels like an political appointment from a goverment (the IDS/Tory side of it anyway) that is ideologically opposed to harm reduction.

    7. I dont think oppposition to the ACMD in the past is a big deal. I dont think it reflects especially well given the processes behind earlier decisions/recommendations – and would be another mark against him, but I dont think a variety of views – even including misguided ones like his, is a problem in itself. Its a committee after all. That said it does, again, rather point the political nature of the decision.

    8. For me, I agree with you Eric, this is the deal breaker. Not only does he have offensive views – but he has actively campaigned on them in the political and parliamentary arena. He campaigned against ant-discrimination law (but then says he is a victim of intolerance – because his intolerance isnt tolerated?). Luckily in this country religion is (mostly) no longer an excuse of bigotry and prejudice (against LGBT anyway, against women there is still some way to go). You are are also right that his views are directly relevant to his work on the council – even he has made the link between his views on gay lifstyles and drugs. The cmparison you make with racism is a valid argumant.

    So 1-7 i would have thought would have made him an unlikely, indeed very poor candidate. That he was appointed despite 8, however, seems remarkable, and points to a clear politcisation of the committee. This process, especially if it comtinues will probably lead to the council’s implosion, or furtehr decent into irrelevance (which I suspect may well be the plan). I am very dissapointed that Les Iversen has gone along with this. What follows – who knows. More resignations certainly imminent.

  4. Dear Eric,

    Good stuff, but using abbreviations like LGBT a dozen times without ever once defining it, confuses many readers (including experienced members of my staff) who soon switch off and miss the important main points you are making.

    e.g.. Jonathon Ross assures me that NTA actually means “National Television Awards”, and that LGBT obviously means “London Gets Better Television”!

    I personally prefer NTA as “No Troublesome Acronyms”, especially as most psycho-pharm treatments don’t work to deliver lasting relaxed abstinence.

  5. Well eventually Steve Rolles puts pen to metaphorical paper on this manufactured debate. I notice his colleague Danny Kushlik said elsewhere “That a religious ideologue has been appointed to the ACMD is disturbing. I
    don’t understand how the Government can square this with a desire to
    have a scientific, evidence-based view of drugs policy.”
    *********************************************************
    Danny & Steve, I do not think it very edifying to be quite so vitriolic publicly
    to someone you cannot really know who cannot defend themselves. It is
    cheap comment. It was a very nasty remark.

    There are more than 30 people on the ACMD, to suggest that one cannot be
    a Christian with core Christian beliefs is rather silly. Just like
    suggesting a homosexual should not be on there or a Moslem. The ACMD
    needs the most broad set of views to represent the whole of society and
    scientific & sociological opinion.

    This whole rather unpleasant debate was manufactured by Mark Easton on the basis of an (anonymous) and alleged source in the ACMD. I really doubt the source existed.

    Would Easton have made his remarks if Raabe were a Moslem? I doubt it.
    Did Easton even have a source on the ACMD or did he make that up? Who
    knows?

    This sort of thing drags Transform down into the gutter.

    I obviously know HC, he is very genuine chap, sincere in everything he
    does. I do not share all his views and I am not a Christian but I would
    not call anyone who has a religion and holds to the general beliefs of
    that religion, an idealogue, nor would I ever suggest that having a
    religion excluded someone from volunteering for a public role.

    HC is there to replace Gerrada, for his experience of drug problems as
    they present to GPs. He has had a long interest in the subject and his
    views are actually-on cannabis-much the same as hers. It is quite
    difficult nowadays to find GPs /not/ concerned about cannabis.

    No Steve you are wrong or certainly not completely right. The ACMD may well need a specialist drug clinic physician but arguably what it needs much more is an ordinary GP experiencing front line presentations of ordinary people with drug problems.

    It needs that because that is the real front line , it is there that changes in the social damage that drugs cause is first detected. It is that change in society that the ACMD needs to be most aware of when deliberating on advice to give to government.

    Raabe is a GP in a typical city suburb with the right sort of practical experience. He has formed a view about drugs and cannabis particularly, he has studied the subject. Most GPs will not have.

    One of the perceived problem with the ACMD has been the overwhelming views of those who support the corrupted version of “harm reduction”.

    Raabe brings a bit of balance in my view and I was a true harm reductionist before Steve was a sparkle in his fathers eye.

    Give him a chance.

  6. David

    Where have I been vitriolic or nasty?

    (a lot of your other comments seemt to be copy and pasted from Cif -So you’ll forgive me for copy and pasting some of my responses too)

    On what basis can Raabe ‘not answer for himself’ – he can and has (frequently).

    — “This whole rather unpleasant debate was manufactured by Mark Easton on the basis of an (anonymous) and alleged source in the ACMD. I really doubt the source existed.”

    It wasnt ‘manufactured’ by Easton – It would obviously and inevitably have come up anyway. This comment is slanderous and frankly beneath you. Rather than adress the issue, you throw a baseless accusation of serious proffessional misconduct. I know for a fact that what Mark wrote was true. It’s a disgraceful comment which I hope you will retract and apologise for.

    –“There are more than 30 people on the ACMD”

    Actually there’s 25

    — “to suggest that one cannot be a Christian with core Christian beliefs is rather silly.”

    No one has suggested that. Certainly not me or Eric (or Evan harris for that matter). Infact I’ve clearly stated the exact opposite. Who are you refering too?

    ” Just like suggesting a homosexual should not be on there or a Moslem”.

    No one has suggested that either. You are talking to yourself

    — “The ACMD needs the most broad set of views to represent the whole of society and scientific & sociological opinion.”

    I agree – and say so. But there are limits and I think on the gay issue – Raabe has crossed them. Presumably you would not welcome my joining the council – even though I undoubtedly represent a signifincant section of society and scientific & sociological opinion.

    —“Would Easton have made his remarks if Raabe were a Moslem? I doubt it.”

    Ofcourse he would. This is a ridiculous point

    —“Did Easton even have a source on the ACMD or did he make that up? Who knows?”

    I know. A disgraceful and baseless accusation.

    —“I obviously know HC, he is very genuine chap, sincere in everything he
    does.”

    No one has suggested he is insinscere – just someone who hold offensive and intolerant views on gay people.

    —“I do not share all his views and I am not a Christian but I would
    not call anyone who has a religion and holds to the general beliefs of
    that religion, an idealogue”

    How would you describe his views on homosexuality if not ideological? I think it is probably fair to say the same about his views on sexual health and harm reduction. Im sure he would acknowledge the role of religious teaching, as he sees it, in his positions – it would be odd if he didnt. They are clearly, at least in signifincant part, faith based postitions – which by definition means they are not evidence based. That would be my understanding of ideological – yours is…what?

    —“nor would I ever suggest that having a religion excluded someone from volunteering for a public role”.

    NO ONE HAS SUGGESTED THAT. Its a ridiculous straw man characterisation of arguments not being made by anyone. Its his extreme and unevidenced position on specific issues (religiously informed or not) that are the issue. There are non-christians who hold obnoxious views that would raise the same issues had they been appointed.

    —“HC is there to replace Gerrada for his experience of drug problems as
    they present to GPs.”

    Technically, no hes not. There is no mandated role for a GP, and clearly he will be involved in work irrelevant to his GP background’

    — “He has had a long interest in the subject and his views are actually-on cannabis-much the same as hers”

    — his view on cannabis aren’t the issue, and a ‘long interest’ isnt a qualification for the ACMD. He has published nothing of substance on the subject.

    —“It is quite difficult nowadays to find GPs /not/ concerned about cannabis.”

    hardly suprising. Everyone on the council is concerned about drugs. What point are you making? Mine is that there are many GPs far better qualified than him – even on completely objective criteria regards work experience, reaearch, and publications. Maybe they didnt apply (only one other did apparently) – but who would, given the last couple of years.

    —“The ACMD may well need a specialist drug clinic physician but arguably what it needs much more is an ordinary GP experiencing front line presentations of ordinary people with drug problems ……..etc etc re other GP comments.”

    dont particularly disagree with any of this – but see previous comment

    —“One of the perceived problem with the ACMD has been the overwhelming views of those who support the corrupted version of “harm reduction”.”

    percieved by whom? Please direct us to the ACMD publications full of corrupted harm reduction.

    —“Raabe brings a bit of balance in my view” and I was a true harm reductionist before Steve was a sparkle in his fathers eye.

    sadly, being older than me doesn’t make you right

    —-“Give him a chance.”

    er, he’s just been given one. I think thats what we are discussing.

  7. If the reports are accurate on Dr Raabe’s views and beliefs then I do think they would be relevant to his suitability to sit in any public office, never mind just in this specific instance. The linking of homosexuality to paedophilia is an old trick and quite vile.

    I know how hard it is for gay young people to grow up in a world that is constantly giving them this kind of message. I heard a clergyman preaching about the “dangers” of homosexuality and not only that, but to the dangers of Christians “tolerating” it, to a packed church many years ago.

    I actually got up and walked out and later went back to complain, but my greatest outrage was for the young gay men or women sitting there for whom these words would be hammering home like a nail into the soul.
    Some folk never recover from that kind of damage.

  8. Well Eric, Steve Rolles, DannyKushlik, Evan Harris etc etc have all combined to make personal & professional attacks on Hans-Christian Raabe. The viciousness of the mob in pursuit of a fundamentally good man who happens to disagree with them, especially on the drugs liberalisation issue (cannabis particularly) has been a glory to behold. Even Steve Rolles who is normally very fair, got this one wrong. Some of you owe Dr Raabe an apology. Are any of you big enough to communicate with him and say so? I suspect government will have to.

    If anyone wants his e-mail address to do that, they can ask me.
    INSERT>
    Sacked drugs adviser demands apology from Home Office

    GP’s child abuse comments echoed in official report

    By Jonathan Owen

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/sacked-drugs-adviser-demands-apology-from-home-office-2213112.html

    Sunday, 13 February 2011

    Theresa May is being urged by anti-drugs campaigners to apologise to Dr
    Raabe

    A row over a disgraced GP sacked from the Advisory Council on the Misuse
    of Drugs for controversial views including linking homosexuality with
    child abuse intensified yesterday as it emerged that a Home Office
    report makes the same point.

    The appointment last month of Dr Hans Christian Raabe – who takes a hard
    line against drug use – was welcomed by anti-drugs campaigners. A media
    backlash prompted the Home Office to sack Dr Raabe over his 2005
    comments linking homosexuality and child sex offences.

    Dr Raabe said this weekend that he is considering taking legal action
    against the Home Office unless he receives an apology. He pointed to a
    research report by the Home Office – Sex Offending Against Children:
    Understanding the Risk – which states: “Bradford et al (1988) suggested
    reasonably that approximately 20 to 33 per cent of child sexual abuse is
    homosexual in nature.”

    He pointed out that this is a similar statistic to that cited in the
    academic paper he co-authored in 2005, claiming 25 per cent of child sex
    abuse is homosexual. “This is quite hypocritical and very bizarre
    indeed. I am being sacked by the Home Office for stating what a Home
    Office document says,” the Manchester GP said.

    “I volunteered for unpaid public service and feel as though my personal
    and professional reputation has been shamefully destroyed by the
    Government, for saying something it says itself. My appointment has been
    revoked based on the wrong perception that I could potentially
    discriminate against gay people; something I have never done, either in
    my private or professional life. The real issue is that there was a
    campaign to get rid of me. I suspect it’s a group of people that are for
    a more liberal drug policy and perhaps want to legalise drugs.”

    Anti-drugs campaigners yesterday called on the Home Secretary, Theresa
    May, to apologise for “an unjustifiable personal and professional attack
    by her ministry”. David Raynes, from the National Drug Prevention
    Alliance, described Dr Raabe’s sacking as “a vicious and personal witch
    hunt orchestrated by pro-drugs campaigners” and said “there remains a
    cabal of people on the committee who are sympathetic to the legalisation
    of all drugs. It can ill afford to lose people who act as a balance
    against this view”.

    Yesterday the Home Office said: “Dr Raabe’s failure to disclose a
    controversial report which, among other things, links homosexuality to
    paedophilia raises concerns over his credibility to provide balanced
    advice on drug misuse issues and impacts on the smooth running of the
    ACMD.”

    Other controversial figures appointed to the expert body last month
    include a former cocaine addict and a drugs researcher who has
    downplayed the risks of ecstasy.

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