On 23 November, Littlejohn wrote:
When I went to Sunday school, a million years ago, we were taught to love our neighbour.
I don’t recall ever being told that we should take an ‘eye for an eye’ literally. Or that the punishment for homosexuality was death.
Aged six, we didn’t even know what homosexuality was, even though we’d been warned to steer clear of that chap who was always hanging round the swimming pool.
Three people complained to the PCC about this insidious remark. Here's their ruling:
The complainants were concerned that the article implied that homosexual individuals were paedophiles.
The Commission acknowledged the complainants' concerns that the columnist had equated homosexuality with paedophilia. However, while the terms of Clause 12 (Discrimination) prevent newspapers from making prejudicial or pejorative reference to an individual's sexual orientation, it does not cover generalised remarks about groups or categories of people. Given that the complainants were concerned that the article discriminated against homosexual individuals in general, the Commission could not establish a breach of Clause 12 (Discrimination) of the Editors' Code of Practice on these grounds.
So while the PCC do 'acknowledge concerns' about the remark they decide to do nothing about it. Why? Because the Code only refers to discrimination against the individual. As one of the complainants told this blog:
'I expected them to clear him by saying that he hadn't specifically said that homosexuals were paedophiles, and that was just our interpretation. Instead they acknowledge the slur, but say discrimination is totally fine if it is against all the people in a group rather than just individuals.'