(WARNING: As with my previous Terrence Higgins piece, this is not for minors.)
My post last week about Terrence Higgins Trust’s (THT’s) health advice (here) caused shock and a bit of a stir. But it is appropriate first to clarify exactly what my objection to THT is about:
(a) It is NOT a homophobic thing. Gays must be at liberty to live their lives free from harassment and hatred like everyone else. Further, the depraved behaviour described on the THT website – and in the corresponding THT advice booklets The Bottom Line and Below The Belt – is presumably practiced by a small minority of people of any sexual orientation and both genders. However THT makes clear that this particular obscene health advice is intended specifically for gay males.
(b) It IS an anti-THT thing. The Trust received £15m of statutory funding (71% of total income) in 2010/11 (here); has reputable patrons such as Sir Richard Branson, Dame Judi Dench, Miriam Stoppard, Tracey Emin, Sir Elton John and Stephen Fry (here); works in close partnership with the NHS, the Department for Education and other authorities; and is currently targeting young people with counsel and guidance – yet as bold as brass THT distributes health advice that is blatantly unhealthy, unhygienic and harmful let alone sordid and perverted. The big question: should we trust our young people to THT for health and sex guidance?
Of course another issue is THT’s corporate culture. What exactly are the underlying values and corporate aims exposed by these booklets? Newspaper culture has been exposed by journalist phone hacking; banking culture has been exposed by ‘rogue traders’ and Libor-fixing. What do The Bottom Line and Below The Belt tell us about a management that sanctions such publications and makes them available on their main website? That’s a question we’ll need to put to Sir Nick Partridge OBE, chief executive of THT (here).
I posted about THT on Monday evening, 2nd July. Within 48 hours, on Wednesday afternoon, THT took down their website, initially (they informed us on a temporary webpage) for ‘maintenance’ and then for a relaunch. The new site was published 24 hours later and – surprise, surprise – the offending health information had been removed. The new site can be found (here).
On Wednesday too I wrote to the Charity Commission requesting them to rescind THT’s charity registration on the basis that the trust is operating openly in contradiction of its health and charitable objectives.
I forwarded to them THT’s advice on watersports, scat, fisting, felching, and rimming and asked – rhetorically of course – whether giving advice about drinking urine, eating faeces, inserting forearms up recta, sucking semen from anuses through a straw, and tongue-licking the rear end of men’s alimentary canals can be seen as sound or even acceptable health advice?
As by then the website was down, I let them know they could obtain copies of the advice by contacting THT direct and requesting their health booklets The Bottom Line and Below The Belt. (If you too want copies, call THT on 020-7812 1600.)
The Commission say they will reply within 15 days.
Encouragingly, a number of readers forwarded my post to their MP. At least one ‘absolutely shocked’ MP has now also written to the Charity Commission ‘asking for their opinion on whether it is appropriate for such material to be funded by the public purse, whether they were aware that this material was being produced by THT and what action they can take in this case’. Another has said he will take up the issue too.
Have you contacted your MP yet?