Wednesday, 21 March 2007

Anti-Sexual Orientation Regulations Vigil Outside Parliament - Report

I am just back from the "Prayer Vigil" outside Parliament organised by right wings Christians to protest against the Sexual Orientation Regulations. Inside the Palace of Westminster, the Lords was preparing to vote to approve or reject the regulations.

The organisers of the demonstration tonight must have hoped that it would be repeat of what happened on 09 January this year. But it wasn't at all.

The Christian crowd

The picture above is a view of the crowd just after the start of the vigil at seven. About 200 people huddled together in the cold singing hymns. The space between the group and where I was standing when taking the picture was full of people in January.

To be fair, our side didn't fair much better. At our peak, there were three of us. I spent most of the time I stayed there on my own (as far as I could tell) with a specially bought rainbow flag draped over my backpack. I think this was due to the fact that much less publicity had been given to this event than to the previous one. Particularly, I don't think the BBC published the details of it on its website this time round.

Anti SOR song sheetThe composition of the crowd was also quite different from last time. While in January there was a strong minority ethnic presence and many children, this time, the audience was definitely older and white. A few speakers arranged the singers at some point but I had been asked by some nice policemen to move to the side and I could not hear what was being said. Probably some more misinformation or perhaps they were simply introducing the "prayer points" listed on the song sheet that was handed out to everyone (view thumbnail on the side).

Today I found footages of the January demonstration on YouTube. The description of the video by its author shows that he, like the majority of the poeple who attended, and as I was able to acertain this at the time by talking with the "ennemy", had no idea as to why he was there. I didn't get to talk to anyone this time, but I am pretty sure that people weren't any better informed this time round.

After just over an hour, utterly frozen, I packed up my rainbow flag and made my way home, the crowds still singing and now swollen by another 100 people or so to reach the grand figure of about 400.

Ekklesia and PinkNews have reports on the demonstration which took place this afternoon in the same location.

It seems that the miracle requested by those outside the Palace did not happen. The amendment to the Regulations tabled by Baroness O’Cathain was rejected and the regulations were approved by 168 votes against 122. (thanks Craig for the text-messages). The apparently intense lobbying from the fundamentalists has obviously been effective if not sufficient (figures for January's vote were 199 in favour for 68 against).

I'll post more about the debate tomorrow I expect, when the transcript becomes available. In the meantime, have a look here and here.

You can view all my pictures from both demonstrations here.

To read my (growing number of) previous posts on the subject, please click here or on "Sexual Orientation Regulations" in the right hand menu.


  1. Well, I'm very glad to see the usual lies that the extremist religious lot (all across the world) put about where defeated.

    One day perhaps the Pope will realise the bilge he currently spouts about gay people is nothing more than pure hate.

  2. I'm sorry I missed you and your rainbow flag. Anyway thanks for flying it. I passed by on my way home quite late, and I expect you'd gone. There weren't many of them there. They were busy praying for a religious revival and singing despondent hymns in the cold.

    Hey ho. Apparently their prayer for democracy (richly ironic!) was answered, their prayer for a miracle ... not so much, I'm glad to say.

  3. I left around a quarter past eight... It was a little too cold and lonesome there...

  4. Readers should remember that religious beliefs are opinins rather than objective fact.

  5. Readers should remember that religious beliefs are opinions rather than objective fact.


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