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The Sun newspaper this morning published an ‘interview’ with UKIP Member of the European Parliament Roger Helmer, claiming that Helmer said that it should be okay to ‘despise’ gays.
But the paper has come under fire as Helmer today hit back, claiming he said no such thing, calling into question the paper’s journalistic integrity. The Murdoch-owned paper (£) reported:
Brits should be able to despise gay people just like they do certain types of tea, a senior Ukip politician sensationally claims.
MEP Roger Helmer – an ex-Tory who has said being gay is a mental health issue – declared as he insisted he was not homophobic himself: “Some people may have views that some people disagree with. Different people have different tastes.
“You may tell me you don’t like Earl Grey tea. That may be a minority view but you are entitled not to like it if you don’t like it.”
He demanded when grilled about comments he once made in which he told how some folk find homosexuality horrifying: “What is normal?”
Mr Helmer was still a Conservative when he said in a 2000 booklet that people see gays as “distasteful if not viscerally repugnant”.
He also said children choosing homosexuality were fixating on the “wrong gender” and losing the chance of a “normal life”.
But Helmer struck back, claiming that he said no such thing about ‘despising’ homosexuals, and that he has previously written repeatedly about homosexuality not being a disease or disorder, calling into question whether the Sun’s Deputy Political Editor, Steve Hawkes, was simply intent on publishing a hack job instead of factual copy.
“I was deeply shocked today by today’s report, and editorial piece, in the Sun. It claimed that I had said ‘It’s fine to despise gay people’, that ‘being gay is a mental health issue’, and that I had suggested that ‘homophobia is OK’. None of these propositions is true, or remotely relates to my views.
“I was phoned (as I was driving, and concentrating, at least in part, on the traffic) by the Sun’s deputy political editor Steve Hawkes, who asked about my views on homosexuality.
“In the course of a short conversation, I simply made the point that people were entitled to their personal preferences. It is morally acceptable to prefer heterosexuality over homosexuality, or vice versa. Most of us prefer one or the other. So let’s look at the Sun’s claims:
“‘It’s OK to despise gay people’: How the Sun gets from ‘It’s OK to have personal preferences’ to ‘It’s OK to despise gay people’, I’m not sure.
“‘Being gay is a mental condition’. In about thirty seconds I was able to identify two blog posts in my extensive blog archive in which I make the point explicitly that homosexuality is not a disease.
“‘Homophobia is OK’. As a technical linguistic point, I have questioned the use of the term ‘phobia’ in this context, since it has a specific meaning in psychiatry which does not (it seems to me) apply in this case. But I have also written very clearly (and in the same piece) that prejudice, hostility and violence against homosexuals are wrong, and totally unacceptable.
“UKIP supporters will recognise the principle at work here: the mainstream media are engaged in a feeding frenzy against UKIP, and are prepared to twist the facts to suit their agenda.”
Last week the Sun chose to run a story ‘slut shaming’ UKIP female staffer Lizzy Vaid after her ex-boyfriend leaked sexually explicit pictures of her to the press. The Sun came under fire for running a ‘revenge porn’ story in its attempts to smear UKIP.