Following an enquiry from Core Issues Trust (CIT) on 15 February 2018 to host its Belfast Premiere of “Voices of the Silenced”, Queen’s Film Theatre (QFT) has declined the request without reason. The Trust intended the occasion to be a private, invitation-only event. Core Issues Trust is a registered Christian charity in Northern Ireland.
Responding to further enquires, Joan Parsons, Head of QFT, part of the Queen’s University Belfast, stated that “The mission of the Queen’s Film Theatre (QFT) is to widen access to film through the delivery of a varied programme that actively encourages appreciation, enjoyment, debate and understanding. In addition, the QFT is committed, through its approved programme, to continue to promote and respect equality, diversity and inclusion.” When asked to elevate the request to other university managers, Ms. Parsons repeated the statement above. The Trust awaits an explanation of what the university’s “approved programme” is, and to know why “Voices of the Silenced” fails to meet the theatre’s criteria of a “varied programme actively encourag(ing) enjoyment, debate and understanding”.
The QFT has twice refused face to face meetings in which the production content of “Voices of the Silenced” could be reviewed in terms of its content.
The Queen’s Film Theatre is known for its active promotion of LGBTI film and clearly is advanced in its programme to promote and respect equality, diversity and inclusion with regard to that population group - but not, it would seem, to those who identify as “ex-gay” or those who value self-determination with respect to sexual identity, or reject the categorical notion of a “sexual orientation”. As such, the university is in breach of the 2014 Court of Appeal Ruling[i] which established at that “ex-gay” identity functions as a protected characteristic, and as such is protected against discrimination under the Equality Act of 2010. Paragraph 98 of that judgement says: “Discrimination against a person because of his or her past actual or perceived sexual orientation, or because his or her sexual orientation has changed, is discrimination “because of…..sexual orientation”.
CIT’s CEO Mike Davidson said:
“Clearly in Northern Ireland, in line with the rest of the UK, Christian freedom is restricted to freedom of worship alone. It is an illusion to believe that Christians have freedom of religion or even freedom of conscience. If it is up to the politicians and the leaders of our institutions, Christian values have no place in the public space, which is reserved for the dogmatic religion of secularism, and promotion of LGBTI values which alone define diversity and inclusiveness. More dangerously, homosexual identity in the UK appears now to be mandatory for those experiencing the feelings. It seems there may be no dissent; gay identity must be affirmed and there is no debate to be had about the matter. But this is exactly why the politics of sexuality are unsustainable and will unravel.”
The unwillingness of QFT to consider programming that challenges LGBTI dogma augurs poorly for the critical function of higher education in the country, where debate, diversity of viewpoint and ideological difference in research is now limited to one vantage point. Scientific evidence has been replaced by ideology; the very point of "Voices of the Silenced".
The university is yet to respond to ongoing enquiries. In the meantime, those wishing to view the feature documentary are invited to the public showing at Ballynahinch Baptist Church on Tuesday, March 13th at 7.30. Tickets by donation can be obtained at the event’s Eventbrite page.
Event details here: Voices of the Silenced Belfast Premiere[ii]
[i] http://goo.gl/qgYNZB Monday 27th January, 2014 IN THE COURT OF APPEAL (CIVIL DIVISION) ON APPEAL FROM THE HIGH COURT, QUEEN’S BENCH DIVISION, ADMINISTRATIVE COURT MRS JUSTICE LANG CO72842012 (paragraph 98)