Despise Alan Jones for his vile comments, not for having sex with men

In case you missed it (and if you’re not in Australia, you probably did), right-wing radio personality Alan Jones gave a speech to the Sydney University Liberal (i.e. conservative — yeah, I know) Club in which he said that Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s father, who recently passed away, had “died of shame” because of his daughter. This is part of a string of really nasty, misogynistic slurs against the PM, from Jones and other right-leaning journalists, commentators, and even MPs.

Anyway, there are a number of petitions going around in protest of this. One petition I found today (ironically, via a gay friend who tweeted in support of it) contains the following text:

Sign to remove the order of Australia from Alan Jones of 2GB radio . Alan Jones was arrested in 1988 in London on two accounts for indecent acts in a public toilet . Later he was directly involved in the Cronulla riots calling bikies to be involved . Now Alan Jones on air called for our prime minister to be drowned at sea in a chaff bag and that her father died due to her actions . Sign this and share this petition to stop this injustice .

(emphasis mine)

Now don’t get me wrong. Alan Jones is a vile worm of a man, and his comments against Ms. Gillard (and on a range of other topics) are completely unsupportable. I would love to see him stripped of his OA, and for all his radio station’s sponsors to pull their support. But let’s not make this about who he has sex with. As Sarah (@Stokely) says, it’s homophobic and irrelevant.

Before anyone says it’s about breaking the law, not about homosexuality: note that he was cleared of all charges (see citations in this Wikipedia article). And if you’re so concerned about the law, why not mention the other things he’s been accused of, and in many cases been found guilty and fined by the courts: plagiarism, defamation (many times), corruption, contempt of court (multiple times, including for broadcasting the name of a juvenile involved in court proceedings), racial vilification (many times), multiple breaches of the commercial radio code of conduct, and of course involvement in the cash for comment affair.

Someone on Twitter mentioned that the problem was the “indecency”, nothing to do with the gender of the people involved. You should be aware that the charge in question would have been made under the Sexual Offences Act 1956, which predates the 1967 legalisation of homosexuality in the UK. The act says:

Indecency between men. It is an offence for a man to commit an act of gross indecency with another man, whether in public or private, or to be a party to the commission by a man of an act of gross indecency with another man, or to procure the commission by a man of an act of gross indecency with another man.

The term “indecency”, in British law in 1988, only referred to male/male activity. The law against “indecency” was repealed in the Sexual Offences Act 2003, and replaced with Sexual activity in a public lavatory, which applies to all genders equally.