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Crawley's Tory MP Henry Smith insists he is not homophobic

By Crawley News  |  Posted: January 02, 2013

By Dave Comeau dave.comeau@essnmedia.co.uk

  • NO BIG DEAL: Henry Smith says his opposition to gay marriage has been blown out of proportion

  • NO BIG DEAL: Henry Smith says his opposition to gay marriage has been blown out of proportion

  • 'NO STRONG VIEWS': Henry Smith claims his opposition to gay marriage has been blown up out of all proportion reks20120911c

  • NO BIG DEAL: Henry Smith says his opposition to gay marriage has been blown out of proportion

  • PETITION: Jo Harrison

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THE town's MP has declared "I'm no homophobe" after a fierce backlash to his opposition to gay marriage.

Conservative Henry Smith says he is deeply offended at being labelled "anti-gay" by some campaigners supporting a change in the law.

Crawley's MP says that while he remains against the idea of redefining marriage to include civil partnerships his opposition is being blown out of proportion.

Mr Smith said: "I have been accused of being some sort of anti-gay rights activist and even homophobic on some websites, which I find deeply offensive.

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"This is an issue which I have not spoken out about in Parliament before and I do not have any particularly strong views on.

"There are much more important issues to be focussing on such as the economy and Europe."

The backlash came about after Mr Smith revealed he would not support gay marriage in the Commons because more than 300 people of different faiths had written to him to express their concerns.

In comparison, he had only received a few letters in favour of redefining marriage.

Since then a petition has been set up with the intention of showing Mr Smith there are at least an equal number of people in favour of the change.

The online petition has gained 333 signatures but Mr Smith insists this isn't enough to alter his thinking.

He said: "I don't come at this issue from any religious or moral angle. It is a civil liberty point of view.

"Civil partnerships convey the same rights as marriage. If same sex couples were less in law in terms of their rights then I would be the first to argue against that.

"People have compared this to apartheid ... this is not the same.

"They have the same rights and although it is only a small thing to redefine the term, it would cause so much concern among the religious community."

Jo Harrison, who set up the petition, says she is disappointed it has not prompted a rethink.

The 32-year-old, from West Street, Southgate, said: "It is a shame. The general consensus from recent opinion polls is that about 60 per cent of the population support gay marriage and most people just believe in equality.

"I'm surprised if he thinks that Crawley is so wildly different from other parts of the country.

"Henry has said that we need to value other people's opinions. So that means that people being discriminated against should value the opinion of those who are discriminating against them?

"That is a strange kind of logic."

Mr Smith pointed out that about a third of the signatures on the petition are from people who don't live in Crawley - and some are even from people in other countries.

However, Mrs Harrison believes this actually strengthens the petition.

"The issue is not just about Crawley," she said. "Although we are his constituents, he has a responsibility to the whole country.

"It is not about legalising gay marriage in Crawley, it is about legalising it for the whole country."

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  • AndyStafford  |  January 07 2013, 5:31PM

    I really don't see the point of having "gay" marriage. I am gay and don't see that this is needed or wanted. Marriage is an institution supported by such organisations as the church which is generally homophobic so why would I want to Marry? Its also worth noting that being gay makes me different from the hets. I wouldn't choose to marry having seen so many fail. I can understand having the same legal rights but how can i be different if I have to accept "gay" marriage? I think the failing of this debate is to use the word "marry" but to be honest I think the real question is why the conservaties are pumpin this i the first place? They have never been the most gay freindlky party so I wonder what the real agenda is.

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  • Conservative  |  January 02 2013, 1:32PM

    You said, ""Beaten, oppressed, killed, enslaved"...I think those words can accurately be applied to gay people in this century and prior centuries also....... Well, my response to that would be, and the same goes for women (suffragettes), Catholics living in England over the past several hundred years, the Irish under British rule, the German Jews, Indians under British colonial rule, the entire continent of Africa under British rule and since. The list goes on. Your argument is irrelevant. This is not about beatings, enslavement or persecution. This about changing the definition of marriage to suit a minority. And there is no justification except to please a minority. Homosexuals have civil ceremonies and State recognition. I have the same rights as a homosexual person in Law. Currently, I am married. But I cannot marry a 2nd person. Perhaps we need to change marriage AGAIN so that people who believe in polygamy can have multiple wives? After all, THEY are being discriminated against, right? Like I said, where does this end? I will leave it at that. I have said my piece.

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  • Conservative  |  January 02 2013, 1:23PM

    catchmysoul2 - No rants here. Why is it you left wingers rant like there's no tomorrow, and yet if someone opposes you they are ranting? :)

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  • catchmysoul2  |  January 02 2013, 1:09PM

    "Beaten, oppressed, killed, enslaved"...I think those words can accurately be applied to gay people in this century and prior centuries also. Just look at what the government in Uganda proposing right now...not to mention what happens to gay activists in Jamaica... Also, you might want to calm down a bit "Conservative". Going off on rants isn't good for your heart...

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  • Conservative  |  January 02 2013, 12:51PM

    Oh, and to add to the ridiculousness of the 'gay marriage' argument, if we are talking about discrimination, then is it not discrimination for married people to get rights afforded to non married people already? So, you want to be also called 'married' with all the discriminatory rights that will afford you. So this is NOT about equal rights. This is about definitions of couples. A man and a women, legally bonded are married. A man and a man or a woman and a woman, legally joined, are in a state recognised partnership.

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  • Conservative  |  January 02 2013, 12:46PM

    "It is a RIDICULOUS comparison and extremely offensive to millions of Africans who were beaten, oppressed, killed, enslaved, to compare two free homosexuals living in one of the freest nations on earth wishing to be called a married couple, to apartheid. Just APPALLING. Just because two men choose to live together in a lifestyle that is homosexual, why should they be able to change a particular institution to suit them? The union between a man and a woman? We don't allow close relations to marry. Is that the left wingers next campaign??????? Where does this end? The SPECIAL RIGHTS (typical left wingers trying to hijack right wing propaganda intothevortex) are being pushed for by men and women who want to call themselves 'married' just because they are in homosexual relationships. I absolutely challenge them to complain when two straight men decide to get married for a laugh, and for the tax breaks. Surely it is their right too?" (corrected typos).

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  • Conservative  |  January 02 2013, 12:30PM

    Test - to see if this newspaper is actively spinning against Henry Smith. You have removed my comment almost immediately as it is siding with Mr Smith...

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  • Conservative  |  January 02 2013, 12:27PM

    It is a RIDICULOUS comparison and extremely offensive to millions of Africans who were beaten, oppressed, killed, enslaved, to compare two free homosexuals living in one of the freeist nations on earth wishing to be called a married couple, to apartheid. Just APPALLING. Just because two men choose to live together in a lifestyle that is homosexual, why should they be able to change a particular institution to suit them? The union between a man and a woman? We don't allow close relations to marry. Is that the left wingers next campaign??????? Where does this end? The SPECIAL RIGHTS (typical left wingers trying to hijack right wing propoganda intothevortex) are being pushed for by men and women who want to call themselves 'married' just because they are in homosexual relationships. I absolutely challenge them to complain when two straight men decide to get married for a laugh, and for the tax breaks. Surely it is their right two?

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  • Binary_Sleuth  |  January 02 2013, 12:21PM

    Would he be satisfied with a Civil Partnership? Probably not. He needs to remember that the majority of marriages do NOT take place in places of worship. He also needs to remember that the campaign against gay marriage is highly organised - has he not seen the bishops reading out letters to their congregations asking them to petition their MPs? Supporters of gay marriage don't have that kind of infrastructure that they can exploit to mobilise a similar campaign.

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  • catchmysoul2  |  January 02 2013, 11:28AM

    Trust me, if I get up in the morning, wash my face, slick back my hair and put on a white shirt and a sports jacket and tie up my tie and then look into the mirror and say to myself, "I'm going to go out today and take away those gay people's rights...or make sure they don't get them in the first place"...then I AM ANTI-GAY. Worse than that, this politician is trying to deny a people the ability to love. Who does he want a gay men to marry...his daughter?? Bigots have tried to push gay people to marry straight people for years and look how that's turned out-

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