Thursday, 16 June 2011
Patrick Harvie - A Worthy Complaint?
Many civilised parliaments have, during the working day, a short time devoted to prayer or some form of meditation.
The Scottish Parliament has a short period at the beginning of each day which is referred to as the Time for Reflection session and guest speakers, from all religions or none, are invited to address the members.
Yesterday Professor Cecil Samuelson, president of Brigham Young University in Utah was one such guest. It's my understand his speech was well within the guidelines which state 'all contributions in the chamber must be consistent with the principle of equal opportunities for all and should not include remarks or comments which are discriminatory'.
But MSP Patrick Harvie, the leader of the Green Party, accused the parliament of inviting the Mormon leader of a 'homophobic' university to address Holyrood. Mr Harvie is openly gay. His objection was that Mr Samuelson should never have been invited. He continued:
"Parliament is an institution for the whole of Scotland and this platform must never again be given to someone with this kind of attitude to Scotland's gays and lesbians."
The Presiding Officer, Tricia Marwick replied saying that all speakers were advised of Parliament's policies and their speeches had to fit in with those. She added: "I would remind you that Time for Reflection contributors are guests of this parliament and should be shown courtesy by all members. Any member who heard the speech would take no issue with it."
A number of Brigham Young students are working as interns for MSPs.
Patrick Harvie himself contributes a great deal to the Scottish Parliament but on this occasion I think he's not done himself, or Scotland's lesbian and gay community, any favours. His objection sounded trite. At times I think the gay community should reign in their protests because they are not irrelevant to a situation. This was one of those occasions.