By Hilary White
NORWICH, U.K. October 27, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The visit and threat of a "hate crime" charge by police to a 67 year-old U.K. pensioner and devout Christian grandmother, has garnered outrage from all corners of Britain, and has even been criticised by the head of Britain's leading homosexualist lobby group.
Mrs. Pauline Howe was told by two police officers who visited her home that she may have committed a "hate incident" simply for having written a letter to her local council complaining about the local Gay Pride parade.
Mrs. Howe says she is considering suing the police, after enduring what she described as a "frightening and intimidating" interrogation. She is seeking legal advice from the Christian Institute, a leading UK Christian lobby and advocacy group.
In a video interview, Howe said it is "quite obvious" that the matter is one of an attack by police on freedom of religious expression and belief. "Our freedoms as bible-believing Christians have just been squashed now and the authority of God's word as well. We're not allowed to express our biblical evangelical beliefs anymore without being frightened."
She sent the letter after she was harassed and subjected to sexually explicit verbal attacks when she joined a group of other Christians handing out leaflets at the Gay Pride event on July 25th. In her letter, Mrs. Howe said, "I and other Christians present are not attempting to prevent those who engage in this offensive behaviour from doing so in the privacy of their own homes.
"It is the public display of such indecency on the streets of Norwich which is so offensive to God and to many Norwich residents," she wrote. "It is shameful that this small, but vociferous lobby should be allowed such a display unwarranted by the minimal number of homosexuals."
Mrs. Howe's letter garnered a response from Bridget Buttinger, the council's deputy chief executive, who told her that she could be facing hate crime charges. The council reported the letter to the Norfolk Constabulary, who judged after their interview that no crime had been committed.
The issue has provoked a sudden storm of media attention after ITV's Anglia News ran the story last night. ITV quoted an organiser of the Gay Pride march supporting the police, saying, "There are some points of view that are too hateful to be said."
Homosexualist activists have objected to Mrs. Howe's use of the biblically based term "sodomites" and her assertion that their "perverted sexual practices" spread sexually transmitted diseases. But Ben Summerskill, head of Britain's leading homosexualist activist group Stonewall, called the police response "disproportionate." Andrew Pierce, a commentator for the Daily Telegraph and a homosexual, said, "What kind of society have we become when the peaceful expression of a religious belief can bring police knocking at the door?"
Norfolk police have issued a statement saying, "We will investigate all alleged hate incidents" and called their response "proportionate." A police spokesman said, "If it has come into our intelligence and been reported to us as a crime then we have to investigate."
Mike Judge of the Christian Institute, said, "Whether people agree or disagree with Mrs. Howe's views, everyone who cares about freedom should be alarmed at the police action."
"For democracy to survive people must be free to express their beliefs, yes even unpopular beliefs, to government bodies without fear of a knock at the door from the police. It's not a crime to be a Christian, but it increasingly feels like it."
Ed West, a journalist and commentator for the Daily Telegraph, wrote that Judge has a point. West pointed to the numerous cases of people, "all Christians (generally Evangelicals)," who have been "questioned by the police over objecting to homosexuality."
"It is a part of a wider trend of illiberalism across Europe that has taken place in the past decade."
"This soft totalitarianism does not come with gulags or death camps, but rather the petty harassment of individuals by the authorities," West added.
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