Monday, 22 September 2008

Fathers 4 Justice protestors confronted over 'homophobic' banner

text and images from 24dash.com

Published by Jon Land for 24dash.com in Communities
Friday 19th September 2008 - 3:44pm

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Fathers 4 Justice protestors confronted over 'homophobic' bannerFathers 4 Justice protestors confronted over 'homophobic' banner

A man who fathered a child for a lesbian couple angrily confronted a group of Fathers 4 Justice protesters today as they demonstrated with a banner against "Lesbo Dads".

The break-away New Fathers 4 Justice group held their first protest march in a quiet residential street in Bristol, outside the constituency office for Health Minister Dawn Primarolo.

Last week F4J was closed down by its founder Matt O'Connor, but days later, the New F4J was set up by Nigel Ace and Mark Harris, who made a rooftop protest on the house of Deputy Labour Leader Harriet Harman in June.

But their first stunt under "new management" has attracted criticism for being homophobic.

Dressed in their usual superhero attire, the members shouted slogans and played a loud siren while carrying a 10 foot banner which read "Kids need real Dads not Dawn's Lesbo Dads".

Unfortunately for the 10-strong group, Mrs Primarolo had left her office in Chessel Street 20 minutes earlier.

They claim Mrs Primarolo's backing for the Human Embryology and IVF bill signalled a dismissal of the need for a male role model in a family by making it easier for single females or lesbian couples to use sperm donors.

The disturbance attracted residents out of their houses, several of which angrily confronted the group.

One man, who did not want to be named, questioned the F4J's attitude and revealed he had been a sperm donor for two lesbian friends whose baby was born six months ago.

He told the protesters he was "very proud to have facilitated two mothers to have a child".

After the demonstration he said: "By coincidence I was watching a re-run of the debate over the embryology bill on the parliamentary channel when I heard the shouting and the siren outside, it was a surreal moment.

"I came out to confront them because of what I saw as blatant homophobia.

"I don't think they have intentionally come out to rile against homosexual rights or feminism but they are not doing themselves any favours.

"The core of what they want is equality and that is what feminism and homosexual rights is about.

"F4J make a very broad statement that a child needs a man and a woman but the gender of the parents is irrelevant, it is the person bringing up the child."

He said he does not view himself as a father but more of an uncle to the baby.

"I believe strongly that people in a homosexual relationship should be able to have a family and I wanted to help that to become a reality for my two close friends who I have known for a long time.

"I felt that they would be really good parents with strong morals and that has nothing to do with their gender.

"It is my choice to take a back seat, they say they want me to be involved as much as I want to be."

When the Embryology Bill was debated in May, Ms Primarolo, in response to shadow health minister's Mark Simmonds demand for "male role models", said "that would create an additional hurdle" for lesbian couples and single women.

Nigel Ace, 40, from Clevedon, near Bristol, who fronted today's demonstration and recently won a two-and-a-half year custody battle to see his five-year-old daughter, said: "This stance by the health minister flies in the face of good, proper and traditional foundations of raising children.

"We want them to focus on getting real dads in the family, not artificial ones.

"Just because one man closes the organisation does not mean that the cause has finished, we will only shut down when we have what we want which is equal rights for fathers.

"We have nothing against lesbians or gay people but we should not put them before fathers in our society and in my view they should not have children because children need a balance and if they are brought up with two dads or two mums what sort of challenges do they face in society?"

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