Gaily across the zebra crossing

Evening Standard

At last, gay people can cross the road! It took a long time, but a more tolerant and diverse society has embraced LGBT pedestrians, with the help of progressive local authorities. Rainbow crossings are being installed throughout our cities. At Herne Hill in south London, for example, the local community is delighted by this latest investment by Lambeth Council. Some motorists may be confused, but nothing must stand in the way of equality.

Sadly, we are not all moving forward at the same pace. Haringey Council has received a deluge of complaints after it repainted a zebra crossing in rainbow stripes outside a primary school. Over two hundred parents and other deplorable bigots don’t want to see LGBT children crossing the road. They try to mask their prejudices by arguing about the cost (er, seven tins of paint) or whether the new crossing meets road traffic regulations. Some old bores say that the colourful lines are not as clear as the traditional type. Would they prefer to watch a black-and-white television? 

One disgruntled cis-gender woman rang the school and asked why the £24 thousand wasn’t spent on a special needs teaching assistant for her autistic son. This is typical narrow-mindedness. Aren’t teaching assistants gay too? Might her son be questioning his identity? Let’s be honest – these people would rather homosexuality was kept in the closet.

The good news is that in 2020 this discrimination is no longer tolerated. The police are conducting forensic investigation into letters and e-mails sent to Haringey Civic Centre. These parents are almost certainly guilty of hate crime. We should fear for their children, growing up in a household of homophobia. 

A bigoted boycott campaign, soon erased from Facebook and Twitter, urged people to refuse to cross on the rainbow stripes. However, roadside cameras may be used by police, and anyone suspected of deliberately sidestepping the crossings could find themselves in court on a hate crime charge. We must be intolerant of intolerance.  Do we want a modern, diverse society, or a post-Brexit Britain of heteronormative oppression?

Decisions affecting LGBT people should be made by a people’s assembly, with  at least half being gay or trans.  And why stop at LGBT crossings? Surely we should be encouraging Muslims to cross the road too. Are zebras halal?

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18 Comments on Gaily across the zebra crossing

  1. The article is slightly misleading. The crossings at Herne Hill and Woodside are actually Pelicon crossings, with the rainbow stretching across the road between the lights, and not like the Zebra style one in the photo would indicate. So there doesn’t need to be any confusion over the stripes. I remember reactionary tories complaining about red painted bus lanes too.

    It was the school that got the abusive messages, not the council.

    And we’re not told whether the cost was purely to paint the rainbow, or in fact the normal cost of a brand new or completely refurbished crossing.

    But why let the facts get in the way of an amusing snipe?.

  2. We are living in a world where everyone is accepted for who they are, with the exception of a few people who share different opinions on the matter, but it’s their human right to share a different opinion regardless of whether you are offended or not (unless that opinion inflicts harm and terror onto others). There is nothing special about being gay or trans. just like there is nothing special about being straight. There are bigger problems in the world that we need to focus on rather than spending time and money on sticking a rainbow wherever we feel like. Yes, some homosexuals and transgenders get hate mail or abuse but that’s life, you just have to ignore it instead of taking every comment to heart. It’s not like being straight means your immune to insults and abuse. I’m an atheist and I get quite a bit of “verbal abuse” whenever a discussion on God or religion comes about in my school, but I don’t care. It’s their opinion, they can say whatever they like, freedom of speech. I don’t see any “movement” to protect me for who I am? In court for not using the rainbow crossing? What on earth is happening? You say, “we are not all moving forward at the same pace”. You’re right, some of us are moving back, back to the times where people were segregated and treated differently for their views and for who they are. In my school, we handed out surveys on documentaries we would like to watch. I said I was not interested in watching a documentary about transphobia, then instantly got labelled as transphobic and reported to the Headteacher. You use innocent children as a wall for your personal struggles and complain when you don’t get what you want, which is glamour and the attention of everyone. Most homosexuals and transgenders do not want what you want, but they are silenced by people like you who “speak for them”. A school near my house also put up a rainbow zebra crossing and stated that it was because most of the LGBT students in their school were being bullied for who they are. I don’t think putting some colours on the ground is helping them in any way. I’m scared for the future, for when you will be executed for not having a rainbow flag in the house.

    • Eren,

      Some excellent points well made there. Got me thinking about a few more, along the same path.

      The ‘rainbow’ zebra crossing isn’t going to help anyone lead a quieter life.
      The article above was a response to the ‘rainbow’ crossing – not the other way around. Politics – the governance of public affairs – shouldn’t be intrusive. People don’t like being told what they may and may not say – or even think.

      I personally find the idea of having a rainbow crossing outside a primary school, deeply condescending to intelligent people who happen to be gay.

      Not all gay people wish to consider themselves ‘proud members of the LGBTQ community’. Homosexuality is simply a quirk of nature; it’s not a legitimate source of pride. Or should I say, of ‘Pride’.

      Conservatives can be just as gay as liberals. For example, you can be a gay supporter of Donald Trump. There will, however, be ‘members of the LGBTQ community’ who would not accept this. (In all their boundless tolerance).

      As for genuine intolerance? Probably won’t find much of that at the Salisbury Review.

      The ‘LGBTQ’ community seem to have arrogated sexual preferences for themselves and for the purposes of their political hectoring.

      Personally, if I was gay – and perhaps I am – I would avoid the LGBTQ brigade. It’s all just too undignified for a paragon of good taste like me.

      That’s about it for now. Time for hot cocoa.

    • Even

      I’m a bit curious about a couple things in your comment.

      You say that as an atheist you get actual verbal abuse, “whenever” the subject of god is discussed, and that you were reported to the headmaster because you said you weren’t interested in watching a film.

      Do you think it might be the way you expressed these thoughts that possibly caused others’ to behave that way? I’m also an atheist, and I’ve never had that reaction.

    • I don’t think what he said constitutes flaunting, in any sense of the word. If it did, anything other than completely avoiding any mention would seem to do it. What he said was concise and relevant to his comment.

      You don’t have to go far to see any number of heterosexual couples physically flaunting their relationship in public, however.

  3. I’ve been taking the Salisbury Review for a few years now. I’m gay. I’ve noticed that this gay-bashing (and LGBT-bashing in general) has become more common recently within the review. This is becoming an accepted element of the right-wing. Why should I have to put up with this? I try to live a quiet life – I don’t flaunt my sexuality. Yet I read these snide articles about anyone who happens to be different. A harmless article? Trying hard to be witty? It simply ends up as being offensive. Do I cancel my subscription? Of course not. I would then be unable to respond to such juvenile articles as this. Peter.

    • Peter, I don’t think its gay-bashing or I’d be objecting too. I think what is being mocked is the whole ‘pride’ idea – that we don’t just accept differences but celebrate a chosen few. ( EG The trad gay seems to take second place to trans these days.) As Oscar might have said, we might as well be proud of having red hair.

      I only found out a close colleague was gay when he commented on a school book I’d published which had a chapter dealing with the gay issue (this was back in 1991). I guess that’s the case for most people – with a noisy minority drawing a lot of attention to themselves and some sanctimonious ignoramuses making gestures, like the rainbow crossing, with other people’s money.

    • Peter.

      Four points.

      1: You do not represent gay people everywhere. You only represent yourself.

      2: Politics refers to the governance of public affairs, not of personal ones. Sexual preferences are – or should be – a personal matter. Not all gay people wish to use their sexual preferences as a political weapon.

      3: There will be gay people who find the idea of having a ‘rainbow’ zebra crossing outside a school as unbelievably ill-judged as I do.

      4: Go read Douglas Murray. Please. I insist.

  4. I think Michael you should have a look at “Fearful memories haunt mouse descendants
    Genetic imprint from traumatic experiences carries through at least two generations” Nature News 1.12. 2013. Ewen Callaway. Also Bird A Perceptions of Epigenetics Nature 447:396-398
    It has been a very embarrassing time for the likes of Dawkins and others who sought to treat Darwin as the current Word of God. Karl Popper Lives !

    • That’s a startling finding and serves to warn us that nothing is ever certain in science or life for that matter. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Mary Toft, the 1720s lady who gave birth to rabbits after seeing one, turned out not to be a fake after all?!

      • Very subtle Michael!

        From Scientific American: “Timothy Bestor, a molecular biologist at Columbia University in New York who studies epigenetic modifications, is incredulous. DNA methylation is unlikely to influence the production of the protein that detects acetophenone, he says. Most genes known to be controlled by methylation have these modifications in a region called the promoter, which precedes the gene in the DNA sequence. But the acetophenone-detecting gene does not contain nucleotides in this region that can be methylated, Bestor says. “The claims they make are so extreme they kind of violate the principle that extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof,” he adds.”

        Another article in New Scientist is equally sceptical. It points out that the results weren’t quite as clear cut as reported. Not only that, but there doesn’t seem to be any follow-up since 2013, indicating that replicating the results more rigorously might be a problem.

        It’s a bit premature to throw out well established science just yet.

        Dawkins rules!

  5. I live in Jersey – nice! But as I wandered through the main shopping centre what should I see but a police patrol car painted in proud homosexual colours. Maybe it was because……….? Last summer the front of one off the international banking corporations was dressed overall in the same colours with the slogan “Pride on the Beach”. Yes – there was a celebration on the beach about our sexual diversity. You have to laugh – wait – we have lots of crossings. Are we in for crossings of colour too?

  6. £24.000 would have been better spent on filling in a few potholes. No doubt there will be a backlash from reactionary Zebras for discrimination which will go all the way to the Supreme-Court and cost millions. Meanwhile, convicted foreign murderers and rapists get to avoid deportation because they couldn’t reach a Yumin-rights lawyer on their mobile phone whilst in prison. I think that the late Sir Roger Scruton would be holding his head in his hands!

  7. I’ve identified as the Delphic Oracle so can tell you certain that there’s a report in The Guardian for 2045 in which a High Court judge gives permission for a nine year old girl to form a civil partnership with her 54 year old uncle. Obtuse, said the judge, to allow a child to change sex but not allow it to have it.
    Perfectly logical.

    However, here’s my attempt to bring peace to the trans row on a new young Tory site.
    http://mallarduk.com/men-women-sports-and-souls-michael-mcmanus/

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