On 27th June, at around 10.30 in the evening, four firemen were driving their engine back to Bristol's Temple Fire Station, when, while passing by the area of open space known as the Downs, they encountered four homosexuals cottaging in a clump of bushes. Upon making this discovery they shone their torches on the participants, before going on their way.
Now, it seems that the cottagers were not very happy about this treatment, and felt that their wonderful and wholesome evening's entertainment had been spoiled. So one of them contacted the Terrence Higgins Trust, who advised him to make a complaint alleging that he and his fellow cottagers had been subjected to "homophobic" victimisation. The complaint was duly made, and following an investigation, during which the accused firemen were suspended from duty, the fire brigade fined two of the firemen, demoted a third, and issued a written warning to a fourth. In addition, all four firemen will be attending a fascinating-sounding conference on the subject of "Lesbians, Gays, Bi-sexuals and Transgender Equality in the Fire Service - an absolute taboo?". Meanwhile, the complainant, whose night of fun was so cruelly curtailed, has pronounced himself happy with the result.
And he certainly should be happy. After all, he's really dealt a blow against the evil of "homophobia", hasn't he? Getting four firemen suspended and then disciplined for shining torches? Result!
In addition, the incident has not been reported to the police, so he and his associates will not have to face the consequences of their crime. Because cottaging is, of course, illegal! Indeed, I'm amazed at the gall of the man (and the Terrence Higgins Trust, who encouraged him), to actually kick up a fuss about a thought crime, when he himself was caught red-handed (or red something, anyway) in the commission of a real crime. I'd also point out that he should count himself lucky that it was these firemen who found him and his friends. Had it been people of a less tolerant and more violent nature, then he might have had rather more worries than simply the fact that a light was shone at him.
As for the Terrence Higgins Trust: I thought that they existed in order to provide support and representation for people infected with HIV. So far as I know, they do not exist in order to play victimhood poker. The fire brigade is equally at fault, and their craven response to this complaint provides yet another indicator of the extent to which politically correct orthodoxy has infiltrated the entire public sector.
Indeed, the only people who appear to have behaved decently through all this are the very people who have been labelled as wicked bigots, and subjected to punishment for their thought crime. In my opinion, they were entirely correct to act in the manner which they chose. Cottaging is an extremely unpleasant form of anti-social behaviour, which can render an area unvisitable by decent people, just as surely as can gangs of thugs drinking on street corners. Those who engage in it do not have a right to be left to their own devices while doing so. This is not to say that I endorse the actions of those who engage in "queer-bashing" (although I would not be greatly upset if queer bashers were to catch the complainant in this case, next time he goes for a nocturnal adventure). However, it does mean that I support those members of the public who make a more peaceable attempt to shame cottagers into ceasing their anti-social behaviour, just as I would support members of the public who used peaceful methods in an attempt to make street corner drinkers behave more reasonably. In the case of cottagers, who thrive off being hidden from view, despite being in public, I would think that shining powerful torches upon their activities was an excellent way of dealing with them.