## How to say nothing with numbers

I used to analyse data for a living. It’s fascinating to take a whole load of numbers, postcodes and geodemographic data (in my case) and come up with something meaningful, particularly if it makes a pretty map or graphic. I haven’t done any hardcore number crunching for years, and sometimes I miss it. What I did this morning hardly counts, but it was a little bit of fun.

Religious-idiot Richard Carvath did some primary school maths and was awfully pleased with the result. In the last 5 years 80,000 people have entered into civil partnerships. If the population of the UK is 60 million then you just divide one by the other and multiply by 100 to find that a mere 0.13% of the British population is interested in civil partnership! This is so small that it really means that nobody is interested! Civil partnership is irrelevant so we should stop doing them! (We’ll pass over Carvath’s usual bleating about how civil partnerships are destroying the institution of marriage. I don’t think he can comprehend that it can’t be both insignificant and a clear and present danger at the same time.)

Of course, that number is meaningless. For a start,around 19% of the country’s population is aged under 16. Take them out of the numbers and you have an adult population of around 48.6 million. Do the maths again and now 0.16% of the adult population is in a civil partnership. Still a tiny proportion, you might say, but this is still a flawed number. Most of the population aren’t gay- the majority of people would qualify for a “normal” marriage.

Carvath has insisted that only 1% of people are homosexual, a more commonly held figure is 10%. So between 1.65% and 16.5% of those eligible have taken up civil partnerships since they were introduced. How many heterosexual marriages have there been in that same period?

Well the Office of National Statistics says there were 232,990 marriages in England and Wales in 2008. Perhaps the Scots don’t get married. Rounding that up to 250,000 to give the straights a chance, that’s half a million people getting married every year, 2.5 million married people within five years. Between 5.2% and 5.72% of the straight adult population has got married within the last 5 years. If homosexuals are really as tiny a minority as Carvath likes to think then the numbers actually show that they’re over three times more likely to get civil partnered than straights are to get married. More realistic figures give marriage the threefold advantage over civil partnership.

The article Carvath cribbed his figures from crows about an increase in the number of civil partnerships being dissolved- 351 in 2009. Per thousand people married, this means that around 8.75 will get divorced. For the record the equivalent number for straight marriages in 2008 was 11.2. So it’s not clear what they were trying to prove.

What has my data mining proved? Mostly that if you want meaningful statistics you have to do a little bit of work establishing context etc.. It’s not clear whether Carvath was behaving like a tabloid- working out the worst looking number and assuming his audience are too dumb and gullible to question it or spot the logical flaws- or he really thought he was doing some clever analysis. I’m normally a charitable chap, but experience tells me that the latter is more likely than the former, not that either speak well for the man.

## 31 Responses to How to say nothing with numbers

1. You are seriously deluded if you think 10% of people are homosexual! The figure is 1%. You want meaningful statistics in context? Try this:

According to you: “0.16% of the adult population is in a civil partnership.”

Now, here comes the knock-out punch…

Slightly under 50% of the British adult population is married.

[Incidentally, several million widows and widowers are of course not included in those currently married.]

There you have it Ian. Do you want a meaningful statistic?

0.16% of the British adult population is in a civil partnership, compared to about 50% of the British adult population which is married.

It is therefore crystal clear that the demand for civil partnerships in British society really is incredibly small. By contrast, marriage is very much a popular societal norm.

Somebody’s looking like a secular-humanist idiot around here and I know it’s not me. Who could it be?

• Ian Pattinson says:

50% of the adult population did not get married in the last five years. 5-6% did. In that same period 1.6-16% of the gay population got married (the higher figure is based upon your assessment of how many people are gay). My point, which you’ve missed yet again, was that you weren’t comparing like with like. The longest lasting marriage in the country (in 2008) was 80 years. In 80 years 50% of the adult population has got, and stayed, married. When civil partnership has been around for 80 years you can do the comparison your way. Until then you’re doing it wrong, and feeling so proud about it, just to make yourself feel better.

2. I concede that from the [narrow] point of view of arguing statistics on a like-with-like basis you make a valid point (about the disparity in the length of time in which marriage and CPs have been available).

But (if you are honest) you know full well that even if we give it another 10 years, or 20, or 40, we will still find that my core conclusion remains true.

CPs will never be anything other than the choice of a tiny minority.

[Furthermore, it is reasonable to argue that CPs might become even more unpopular in the future than they are now. Presumably the 40,000 CPs in the first 5 years was ‘the flood of demand after the floodgates were finally opened’. Homosexuals had never been able to form a CP before the advent of CPs – homosexuals had been ‘denied’ all that time – and when they finally had the opportunity to form CPs, in the first 5 years of availability, just 80,000 people went for it. After 5 years the novelty has surely worn off – after that ‘flood’ of 80,000 people – and so it is questionable whether even this very low level of demand will be sustained in future (eg, will there even be 80,000 CPs after 10 years of availability?).]

• Ian Pattinson says:

A realistic and honest assessment of the numbers would suggest that civil partnerships are not as popular as marriage (that’s taking the more commonly accepted figure of 10% homosexuality, taking your low estimate the figures tell us that civil partnership is three times more popular than marriage). You want to argue on a made up figure to wishful thinking basis, so your conclusions are nonsense. You can’t seem to comprehend that the figure you’re so proud of is meaningless because it has no context.

And really, if civil partnerships are so irrelevant and unsuccessful, why are you so scared of them? Why not extend full marriage rights? Surely your conclusion is that only the tiniest number of people would take them up.

3. You’re the one going off wacky figures. No credible research has ever come up with 10% of people being homosexual; studies over the years have consistently come up with 1%. Repeat: there is no credible evidence for 10%.

Whilst there is only a tiny demand for CPs that does not make the existence of CPs “irrelevant.” Considered in the broader context of the homosexual social/political agenda going on in the UK today, CPs are just one part of a social engineering agenda the disastrous and destructive consequences of which are already evident (and which will inevitably manifest worse over time unless checked).

I doubt that there’s much mileage left in this thread – if any – but if I do comment further it’d be interesting to know why you are such a passionate supporter of the homosexual social/political agenda Ian.

Are you a homosexual, Ian Pattinson?

[For the record, I’m quite happy to come out as being a normal heterosexual man.]

• Ian Pattinson says:

If you want to believe your figure of 1% then you have to accept that 16.5% of the gay population have entered civil partnerships in just 5 years. An impressive number for something which involves such commitment, and it’s only going to keep on growing. So your own figures show that your conclusions are complete nonsense.

I’m not sure what my sexuality has to do with you continuing to defend a poorly thought out argument, but I’m always intrigued to find out where you go next. So no, I’m not homosexual. But, unlike you, I’m not scared by the complexities of sexuality or frightened of people whose choice of partner is different to mine. I, alongside straight, gay and bisexual friends, will be loving every minute of Pride this weekend. Look out for lots of photos next week.

And, just for you, something I found today and lined up for tonight’s link dump, but you can have it early- Christian Right Bigots Are Hiding the Truth — Early Christians Condoned Gay Marriage

4. I do accept that 16.5% of the British homosexual population has entered a CP in the first 5 years of availability. Unlike you, I do not interpret this as a good thing.

As I said previously on this thread, the fact remains that: “0.16% of the British adult population is in a civil partnership, compared to about 50% of the British adult population which is married.”

Let me play with your wacky figures just for a moment. You say 10% of people are homosexual. And let’s say that over time CPs trend out proportionately like marriage, i.e. the day comes when 50% of homosexuals are in a CP. Do you seriously think we are ever going to see a scenario of 1,215,000 CPs in the UK?

I’m glad to hear that you’re not a homosexual.

Why you would think I’m in some way frightened by homosexuals I do not know; a bizarre conclusion on your part. I pity homosexuals, they need help; I certainly don’t fear them.

I had a look at the link. Conclusion: Garbage.

Regarding your photos… why you would think I’m now an ongoing frequenter of your blog I do not know. You’ve blogged about me several times and that has naturally drawn my attention temporarily – but your blog is never going to make my list of must read blogs.

• Ian Pattinson says:

I imagine your must read blogs are the ones which repeat and reinforce your prejudices, rather than ones which present you with the complexities of the real world and show up the weakness of your poorly constructed world view. It’s your loss if you don’t make Spinneyhead a regular read, you’d learn much more here than from any of the places that only tell you what you want to hear.

It’s stunning that you still can’t see the sand that your argument is based upon. If you’d like me to keep explaining what you’re doing wrong in ever simpler language, possibly with pictures, until the penny drops, all you have to do is ask.

Maybe one day there will be 1.2 million civil partnerships. I don’t see why not, though I think the government should get some balls and legalise gay marriage instead.

You’re either scared or fascinated by homosexuality, or scared by your fascination for homosexuality. I know a few gay people, and none of them go on about it as much as you do.

5. Ian,

If *you* wish to be taken seriously, please stop using Kinsey’s 10% from a 50-year old, heavily biased “study”.

So few CPs would indicate that the figure is indeed nearer 1%.

So why are so few homosexuals willing to commit to each other (even considering CPs have only been going a few years)?

Is it because the number of solely homosexually inclined people is, in reality, minute, or is it because there is generally so much promiscuity associated with homosexual lifestyles that it would be a waste of time them committing themselves to one particular person?

In which case, how dare they try and destroy the sanctity of marriage.

• Ian Pattinson says:

I’m just giving Carvath a way out so his figures don’t look so dumb. Using his figures 16.5% and rising within 5 years is a respectable figure.

And the question I’ve yet to hear a coherent and reasonable answer to- just how does two people who love each other getting married harm marriage? What do you mean by the sanctity of marriage?

6. Ian,

You’ve just used Kinsey’s 10% lie again (which is how you got your 16.5%). Now stop it!!

“just how does two people who love each other getting married harm marriage?”

I think me, English and the gang have tried to make you understand on several occasions over at my place!

Marriage is a solemn union between man and wife and should not be redefined to include any other combination of persons otherwise, and obviously, the true meaning will be lost.

• Ian Pattinson says:

Don’t try feeling superior when you can’t even get the maths right. The 16.5% number comes from Carvath’s assertion that 1% of people are homosexual. If he’s right (I don’t really care whether he is or not, but he’s wrong about so many things that another one won’t make much difference) then Civil Partnerships have been three times more popular in the last five years than “normal” marriage. Either he’s embarrassingly wrong about the popularity of Civil Partnerships- and showing himself up to be a reactionary fool- or the gay population is larger than he wants to admit and he can’t dismiss them as an insignificant minority any more. Either way, he loses. I’m not surprised I’ve had to explain this point several times now, you’re both too blinkered to see the weakness of your arguments and prejudices.

You, English and the gang may sound convincing to each other because you’re each repeating the same shallow, hateful philosophy and your definition of understanding means not letting reality get in the way of your fantasies. I’m never going to “understand” on your terms because I have the ability to think for myself and I don’t rely upon the most biased reading possible of your holy book.

That’s not a convincing argument about marriage, it’s just a sound bite that doesn’t stand up to deeper consideration. How will the true meaning of marriage be lost? Each marriage is a solemn union between the two people entering into it, that I can accept. But it’s between those two people. That two other people, whom the first couple never meet, are also married, has no bearing upon their marriage. Letting more people marry can only strengthen the institution, not weaken it. Especially as the dissolution rate of Civil Partnerships is lower than the divorce rate in “normal” marriages. That’s going to bring the number of people staying together up, surely that’s a good thing.

7. 1% of people are homosexual; therefore 16.5% of British homosexuals are now in civil partnerships – and 50% of British adults are married. That’s what I’ve said. There is nothing good or impressive to me about the percentage 16.5% and so I haven’t lost anything Ian.

16.5% of very few is still next to nothing – insignificant. By contrast 50% of a lot is a great deal – very significant. Putting it back into raw numbers, 80,000 homosexuals are in civil partnerships compared to 23,000,000 normal heterosexuals who are married.

This 16.5% that Ian is so impressed by is statistically and numerically insignificant; however much Ian attempts to ‘big it up’ it’s still tiny.

Ian has lost every aspect of the argument he attempted to make on being challenged by myself.

A couple more points whilst I’m on…

(1) The majority of homosexuals are promiscuous and entering a civil partnership does not change this behaviour. It is a mistake to think of civil partnerships as being exclusive in the way that a marriage union is.

(2) Marriage is a lifelong commitment between one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others. Two persons of the same gender cannot marry. The reasons why marriage is man/woman only are obvious and they are many, including, for example, the fact that persons of the same gender are not sexually compatible, the fact that persons of the same gender cannot procreate and the fact that persons of the same gender cannot provide the (male) father and the (female) mother that is by far the best parenting situation for raising children.

• Ian Pattinson says:

I notice you still haven’t addressed the fact that, by your numbers, civil partnership has been three times more popular than marriage since its introduction. Face it, you’ve conceded all my other points, just accept that you’re wrong and move on.

23 million is a big number, I should have known you’d be a size queen. “Traditional” marriage has been supported, through additional rights, tax breaks, prejudice and bias, for hundreds of years, and it’s achieved a market share of 50%, though that’s falling. It’s a respectable figure, marriage isn’t going to go away, and extending the rights it provides to same sex couples isn’t going to weaken it at all.

As for your typically weak closing arguments-

1. People are promiscuous. I’ve met a fair number of incredibly slutty straight folks. Their existence doesn’t damage marriage as an institution. Some folks want to sleep around, some want to settle down. Some of them are gay, some are straight, some are bi. Grow up and accept it.

2. So marriage exists just for the production of babies? (You’ve dismissed the idea that it should be because two people love each other.) Are you going to tell all the couples who can’t, or have decided not to, have children that they’re destroying the institution of marriage? Are you going to tell single parents that they’re destroying the institution of marriage?

8. Ian, you typify why it is so often a waste of my time to spend it arguing with the average secular-humanist.

Either you are stupid or else you are wilfully ignoring what I’ve previously said – and the facts (and logical interpretations of those facts) which I have already stated and which support the principles which I have already advocated.

Your conclusion – by comparing a 16.5% rate (of a 1% minority) to a 5.2% rate (of a 99% majority) over a 5 year period – that civil partnerships are therefore 3 times more popular than marriage is illogical and absurd.

[Is this guy really stupid or just trying to pull a statistical fast one I wonder?]

Mathematically, you are abusing two percentage rates which cannot be logically compared for the purpose of deducing relative popularity for a number of reasons.

For one thing, marriage is a mature institution: well over 4 in 10 British adults [who are married now] were already married at the commencement point of civil partnerships in December 2005. 5 years ago, 100% of homosexuals were suddenly free to form a civil partnership (but the same cannot be said of heterosexuals and marriage); crowing about 16.5 erroneously compared to 5.2 is therefore not impressive as a rate at all.

For another thing, civil partnerships are not fundamentally comparable to marriages in any sense by definition. A marriage is a lifelong union founded with solemn and binding public vows between a man and a woman; this union is also recognised in law by the State. A civil partnership is neither a marriage, a form of marriage nor a marriage equivalent; a civil partnership is nothing more than a legal contract which recognises a set of legal rights and responsibilities between two homosexual ‘partners’ (and between those thus legally recognised as civil partners and the State). Civil partners are not in a sexual union as they are not sexually compatible – they are ineligible; civil partners are not akin to a husband and wife, but their contract is akin to any business contract between two people for mutual financial benefit. Marriage by its very nature is defined as a heterosexual institution and it is therfore not comparable in any way with a merely legal arrangement between homosexuals.
___________________________________

As for your other remarks, your attributions as to what you think my position is are not borne out by a careful examination of the evidence of what I actually wrote.

___________________________________

You have been comprehensively defeated at every turn on this thread. You believe yourself to be the rationalist but I have defeated you by means of reason alone on this occasion… and why?… might I suggest that to support homosexuality itself – and any manifestation of it, such as civil partnerships – as a rational human behaviour is simply illogical? That, Ian, is the only reasonable and rational reason why, when it comes down to hard reason, any reasonable rational person can only agree with me and my pro heterosexual, pro marriage stance.

• Ian Pattinson says:

That’s a lot of projection, and just proof that you still can’t see what I pointed out in the original post.

Your conclusion – by comparing a 16.5% rate (of a 1% minority) to a 5.2% rate (of a 99% majority) over a 5 year period – that civil partnerships are therefore 3 times more popular than marriage is illogical and absurd.

No it’s not. Taking your numbers 99% of the population have an option which isn’t open to the other 1%, who have a different option. Comparing the uptake of the options within the groups they’re available to is infinitely more valid than your method. Within the group they were available to, civil partnerships were 3 times more popular than marriages were within the group they were available to. I’ll admit to playing up that interpretation a little to wind you up, but it’s still a more valid one than yours of mocking a new institution simply because it didn’t immediately jump up to a share equivalent to that of the established one.

[Is this guy really stupid or just trying to pull a statistical fast one I wonder?]

You’re really stupid.

For one thing, marriage is a mature institution: well over 4 in 10 British adults [who are married now] were already married at the commencement point of civil partnerships in December 2005.

See the point above.

a civil partnership is nothing more than a legal contract which recognises a set of legal rights and responsibilities..between those thus legally recognised..and the State

A marriage is nothing more than a legal contract which etc.. Sticking some guff about “solemn and public vows” before your definition of it doesn’t make it any less a legal arrangement. And civil partnership ceremonies don’t exactly take place in some secret sphere of silence, they can be as solemn and public as the participants want.

Civil partners are not in a sexual union as they are not sexually compatible

If they’re having sex then they’re sexually compatible.

You have been comprehensively defeated at every turn on this thread.

Have I? Really? Repeating the same bad maths I took apart in the original post over and over again isn’t winning the argument. Also, repeating rational over and over in the last paragraph makes you sound anything but rational.

9. Putting it simply for you…

I meant you to understand that CPs amount to nothing more than a legal contract whereas every genuine marriage union is much more than just a legal arrangement.

Homosexuals are not sexually compatible. Homosexuals can’t have sex as it takes a man and a woman to have sex. Homosexuals can engage in perversion activities but these are not sex. Homosexuals cannot through their perversion activities achieve sexual union; only a man and a woman are sexually compatible and can have sex and achieve sexual union. [State the obvious but sadly these days it is necessary.]

• Ian Pattinson says:

If it’s not perverse, you’re not doing it right.

Though I must admit that “perversion activities” is a great phrase. I take it they’re anything sexual that isn’t missionary position with the plan to make babies. I hope one day to meet the person I’ll do perversion activities with on a regular basis for the rest of my life.

10. You’ve got such a closed mind Ian. Sex doesn’t have to be MP only and the pursuit of pregnancy need not be the main motivation.

• Ian Pattinson says:

What’s your favourite perversion activity Mr Carvath? For that matter, what is a perversion activity? I can hardly go out and do any of them if I don’t know what they are.

11. Marek says:

Oh reading the above would be hilarious if it wasn’t for some rather bigoted heterosexist views.

“Homosexuals can’t have sex as it takes a man and a woman to have sex.”

Please could someone define what this “sex” thing you’re talking about is? And if the definition is “sexual union between a man and a woman” then please see “recursion” in the dictionary.

12. The Kat says:

I always find it faintly amusing that some people seem to think that it is bigoted to be repulsed by homosexual activities such as rimming, fisting, felching (look it up)and a little light sodomy. Okay, so I’m a bigot, because I think they’re disgusting.

If we are to talk of numbers, The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has estimated that homosexual men account for 61% of the new HIV infections in the United States while they only amount to about 2% of the country’s population. Homosexual men accounted for 29,300 of the estimated 48,100 new infections in 2009, and homosexual men aged 13 to 29 accounted for 27% of the new cases.

http://www.cdc.gov/nchhstp/newsroom/HIVIncidencePressRelease.html

With the current approval showered upon homosexuals by government and other useful idiots, this can only get worse. Now THIS is what I call homophobia.

• Sex, as I’ve said before, is a fluid and multifaceted thing. This is what makes it so wonderful. There’s nothing wrong with admitting that what turns someone else on turns you off, even makes you feel a bit icky. What is bigoted is using your personal preferences as an excuse for discriminating against others.

You can bet that there are many many heterosexuals who have tried rimming, fisting and felching. And sodomy is so loosely defined that most of the laws against it outlaw oral sex, in which case only the least interesting people aren’t guilty. Richard and Stewart, by their own admissions, are safe from prosecution, but that’s about it.

The HIV figure is terrible, but your plan to deal with it is completely wrong. If the number of infections is to be cut it won’t be done by vilifying the most vulnerable group and making them scared to talk to anyone about their lives (or worse, to lie and carry on, potentially spreading the disease further). What’s needed is more openness and more information, not the wilful ignorance you’d prefer.

13. The Kat says:

Sophistry, Ian. Your ‘solution’ to the problem has already resulted in an alarming increase in STIs among gay men in recent years whereas it has slightly decreased in the overall population in the UK. So your assertion that straight people readily engage in these revolting practices cannot be true.

http://www.aidsmap.com/page/1837919/

I think you need to get a bit better informed. Try reading the website of the Terrence Higgins Trust (which is handed vast swathes of public money), in particular booklets entitled ‘The Bottom Line’ and ‘Below the Belt’ which will tell you in graphic detail how to carry out all these practices (safely, of course, using a condom!!) Then you can read about Dr Edward C Green’s Harvard AIDS project which charts the failure of the condom approach, particularly in the developing world. (The countries awash with condoms have the highest rates of STIs).

No, the only solution to AIDS and STIs generally is abstinence, or fidelity within marriage. It really isn’t rocket science.

Indoctrinating children with the ‘gay is good’ model can only encourage experimentation and trapping of troubled adolescents into patterns of behaviour which they may well grow out of if left alone. You may not know that the THT have recently been awarded a cool £450,000 of OUR money to go into schools to proselytize.

Don’t you dare to accuse me of vilifying or discriminating against anyone. You don’t know me. I would never do that. What I want is for this information – of which there is an overwhelming mass – to come out of the closet and for young people to be properly informed and warned of the dangers, which you can bet your life the THT won’t do. It is NOT good to be gay, it is overwhelmingly a drugs-and-drink fuelled, sexually promiscuous way of life. If you look, you will find that drug and alcohol abuse, self-harm and suicide rates are highest in the most gay-affirming communities. So just be careful who you call homophobic.

• You’re the one who called themselves a bigot. I offered you a way out by suggesting you were merely squeamish about some things. My definition of bigotry at the end was more general, though I think it does apply to you more than you’d like to admit.

Your solution won’t work. You’re never going to convince people to stop having sex or get everyone to be faithful. Abstinence only sex education has proven disastrous and counterproductive whenever it’s been tried. You want to promote something which will make matters worse and shut down programmes which stand a chance of improving matters. Information and acceptance are the best ways to get a safe sex message across effectively. You only want the information which casts homosexuals in a bad light out there, not the sort which can help them and the rest of us.

Have you read the Terence Higgins Trust website, rather than just seeking out a tame but sensible booklet which gives honest advice?

Have you ever stopped to wonder how much of the self harm and suicide amongst gay teens is because of people like you telling them they’re vile and unnatural and don’t deserve the same rights as straights? Look to yourself on this before blaming others.

14. English Viking says:

Ian,

I’d be most grateful if you didn’t consider me to be part of Carvath’s ‘gang’.

Cheers.

15. The Kat says:

Wrong! Wrong on every count. You have been listening to propaganda. Try doing some research rather than parroting slogans or throwing around your own ideas, shaped by your own small sector of society. Of course I have read the THT website. I am a researcher – it is my job to chart these things. I would hazard a guess that most parents will not be happy if they find their children studying the two documents you think are ‘tame and sensible’.

You obviously haven’t heard of the ABC programme in Uganda – Abstinence, Being Faithful, and lastly Condom use. It reduced the incidence of Aids from 30% of the population to around 5%. It can be done. People can change, as Uganda has proved. It’s easy to Google this information.

The programmes to ‘improve’ matters you mention have actually made them worse. Read Dr Green’s books ‘Re-thinking Aids prevention’ or ‘How the Aids Establishment has betrayed the developing world’. Aids is a multi-million dollar industry. Wherever there is money there is corruption. It is not in the interest of some of these agencies to actually cure what brings them such a lot of revenue. I have read many leaflets from Aids agencies, and not one of them mentions any change in behaviour, but prefer to blame stigma and discrimination. Well, I was brought up in an era when people took responsibility for their own actions, and stigma never gave anybody any disease.

What do you think is most likely to reduce the incidence of HIV/Aids in young gay men in the West? Is it (a) to tell them that their behaviour is fine and should be celebrated, or (b) warn them that it is unsafe and unhealthy, and likely to have nasty consequences which will affect them for the rest of their lives? It is not fun living with HIV/Aids. Would you hand a glass of whisky to an alcoholic, or a cigarette to somebody with lung cancer?

Have you ever stopped to wonder how much of the self harm and suicide amongst gay teens is because of people like you telling them they’re vile and unnatural and don’t deserve the same rights as straights? Look to yourself on this before blaming others. <blockquote

Did you not read my last post? The highest incidences of self-harm and suicide are among the most gay-affirming sectors of society. I have never told anybody they are vile and unnatural – please learn to separate the person from the behaviour – and let’s not go into the old canard of ‘rights’ because gay people have the same rights as everybody else. If some people don’t like their behaviour when it is flaunted in their faces, well, that’s hard luck. I don’t like people smoking in my house, but that doesn’t mean I hate them or that I don’t think they should have equal rights – they can just take their dirty habit elsewhere, and not expect me to fund it.

• You told me to look at the THT website. I did. It’s full of useful information about their programmes, living with HIV, prevention etc. You, however, chose to ignore all this and research your way straight to the leaflets which offended your delicate sensibilities. You want to dismiss everything the Trust does simply because you’re squeamish about gay sex. Most parents would be unhappy to find their child was sexually active, or just thinking about sex, but that shouldn’t stop the children getting information about safer sex.

Your prescription was for “abstinence, or fidelity within marriage”, an abstinence only approach, basically. The ABC programme isn’t abstinence only. It’s even there in the name, there’s a C for condom use. There’s nothing wrong with telling people that the best way to avoid STDs is to avoid sex, but you have to be adult enough to accept that that’s not going to hold them back forever and eventually they’ll need to know about contraception.

A quick perusal of Dr Green’s wiki entry shows he’s a strong supporter of the ABC principle, not your desired, and impossible to achieve, view of absolute abstinence for all.

How about c) which is a less hysterical combination of a and b? It’s possible to accept someone’s sexuality and everything they are and still tell them to cut out the risky behaviour and give them some guidance on how they should do it. You seem to think it’s an either/or thing.

Even the most gay affirming sectors of society are subjected to your message that they’re disgusting. They don’t live in a vacuum. As for rights, gay couples only recently got the right to have their relationships legally recognised and they still don’t have the right to call it a marriage. You seem to be the one having trouble separating the person from the behaviour- for example in your insistence that some sex acts are uniquely gay when there are undoubtedly some straights out there partaking in them. If you don’t like some people’s behaviour don’t use it as an excuse to condemn everyone from the same group.

16. The Kat says:

Oops, by attempt to blockquote didn’t quite work. You will see that the penultimate paragraph is yours, but the last para is mine!