For many years, homosexual groups pleaded for tolerance and an end to laws that they considered to be discriminatory. Now that in large part they have won their case their enthusiasm for tolerance has largely vanished.
Christians, who for reasons of conscience feel they cannot be in favour of homosexual behaviour, are increasingly under pressure. The latest case of this in Britain involves a Christian doctor, Hans-Christian Raabe.
Early this year he was appointed to the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, according to a BBC report on 7 February. Now he has just been sacked from his role as an advisor to the government after it became known that he had written an article linking homosexuality to pedophilia.
He co-authored a study called "Gay Marriage And Homosexuality: Some Medical Comments" in February 2005. The article said that while the majority of homosexuals are not engaged in pedophilia, there is a disproportionately greater number of homosexuals among pedophiles.
"My appointment has merely been revoked as a result of my views on matters completely unrelated to drug policy," Raabe complained in comments published the same day by the Daily Mail newspaper.
Bigotry in reverse
Commenting on the push to impose acceptance of homosexuality a short time before, in a 24 January column, Daily Mail writer Melanie Phillips had lamented: "What was once an attempt to end unpleasant attitudes towards a small sexual minority has now become a kind of bigotry in reverse."
Phillips went on to chronicle some cases of how Christians were unfairly treated due to their views on homosexuality. Her alarm at this trend was not misplaced, as subsequent reactions revealed.
According to a 1 February report by the Christian Institute, after her column Phillips received a "vicious outpouring of hate", including calls for her to be killed. Phillips commented that the homosexual lobby is spewing out in abundance the very hatred and intolerance of which they accuse others.
In any case, she continued, "just because someone does not agree with the homosexual lobby does not mean that they hate them."
She added: "What really alarms me, and the reason why I bang on about the dangers of these different rights agendas, is that they are eroding the bedrock values that underpin our free, tolerant and liberal society."
Shortly before this episode Peter and Hazelmary Bull were fined for refusing to allow a same-sex couple to book a room in their Cornwall hotel in September 2008.
Judge Rutherford of the Bristol County Court awarded Martyn Hall and Steven Preddy 1,800 pounds each, said an 18 January report by the BBC. The two are in a civil partnership, but the Bulls, citing their Christian beliefs, had a policy of only letting out double rooms to couples who are married.
"Our double-bed policy was based on our sincere beliefs about marriage, not hostility to anybody," Mrs Bull commented after the judgment.
Mike Judge, from the Christian Institute, which funded the Bulls' defence, told the BBC: "This ruling is further evidence that equality laws are being used as a sword rather than a shield."
"The right to hold religious beliefs, and to act in keeping with one's faith, is being set against the right not to be offended - and is losing," observed an 18 January editorial in the Telegraph newspaper.
The editorial argued that there is now an unhealthy imbalance between the freedom of believers and those who consider themselves discriminated against.
Another example of that imbalance came when a Christian pediatrician lost her claim of religious discrimination following her dismissal from an adoption panel for holding that children should not be placed with homosexual couples.
Sheila Matthews lost her position on the Northamptonshire County Council when she asked to abstain from voting in cases involving homosexual couples, the Independent newspaper reported on 16 November.
The regional employment judge, John MacMillan, said that the issue "transcends the boundaries of all religion." He also ruled that Matthews should pay the respondents' costs.
The article reported that in her testimony Matthews said: "As a Christian, my faith leads me to believe that marriage between a man and a woman in a faithful monogamous sexual relationship is the most appropriate environment for the upbringing of children."
She explained that she had begun researching the issue in 2004 and had found research with evidence that children placed with homosexual couples did not do as well as those with heterosexual couples. According to the judge her position was based more on scientific grounds than on religious, and for that reason her petition was denied.
Over in Canada the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal ruled that the province's marriage commissioners could not opt out of performing ceremonies for same-sex couples, the National Post reported on 11 January.
The five-member court unanimously rejected both of the government's proposed laws. One proposed allowing all marriage commissioners to refuse to perform civil marriage ceremonies that are contrary to their religious beliefs. The other would have granted the exemption only to those commissioners who held office when same-sex marriage was legalised in November 2004.
Pressure on advertisers
It is not only Christians, however, who run into trouble for their views on homosexuality. A remarkable case of this recently occurred involving an Australian web-based forum, On Line Opinion. Graham Young, the founding editor, explained the situation in a 7 February posting. For 11 years the site has been an open platform for ideas he said.
The future of the site is now under threat because of a campaign to stop advertisers placing their ads, which account for about half of the money needed to run it. This happened after the publication of an article by Bill Muehlenberg opposing same-sex marriage.
Young said that he had decided to publish a series of articles, from a variety of viewpoints, on the issue of same-sex marriage following calls for the issue to be debated by federal parliament. Muehlenberg's article was well-researched and couched in fairly neutral language, he said.
He added that if people did not agree with the article's opinions then the way to respond is by contributing their own opinions, instead of trying to suppress any contrary ideas.
Muehlenberg's article was published in December. Following a campaign by homosexual activists a number of companies stopped placing ads on the site and the income from ads has dropped to practically zero, said Young.
Christopher Pearson commented on the situation in a 5 February article in the Weekend Australian. He contacted the companies involved and one of the replies received was from the ANZ Bank.
"The removal of our advertising should not be viewed as a violation of free speech; it's simply that we choose not to advertise on blogs that do not align to our organisational values," he was told.
"Oh, brave new world! Apparently anything less than an uncritical endorsement of gay marriage no longer aligns with the ANZ's organisational values," Pearson remarked.
Homosexual activists accuse Christians, and others, who do not agree with them of hating them. This is in spite of repeated explanations that it is not the persons that they oppose, but only their sexual conduct.
In fact, the Catechism of the Catholic Church clearly states: "Deliberate hatred is contrary to charity" (2303). And when it comes to homosexuality the Catechism urges that people with homosexual tendencies "must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity" (2358).
At the same time, the practice of homosexual behaviour is not accepted by the Catholic Church, nor by many other Christian churches and communities.
Increasingly, the rights of homosexuals are trumping the right to carry out what believers feel called to do. If religious freedom is to be real it needs to allow people to act according to their conscience.
This article was originally published on the Zenit News Agency website.