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Newly-wed couple who presented petition against gay marriage targeted by trolls

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    A newlywed couple have being bombarded with internet hate mail after posing on the steps of 10 Downing Street to hand in a 550,000-signature petition against gay marriage.

    Rhys and Esther Curnow, from Newcastle, received scores of messages after opponents of their stance on same-sex marriage including a Labour councillor circulated their Facebook details online.

    They included messages saying the couple, who are committed Christians, should “rot in hell” and wishing they would become infertile or die of cancer.
    Several included explicit references to sexual acts while others suggested they should be subjected to “compulsory sterilisation”.

    The couple, who married in March, became the public face of the Coalition For Marriage campaign, backed by Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, earlier this month when they handed in the group’s petition to David Cameron.

    Mr Curnow, a charity researcher originally from Wales, and his wife, a primary schoolteacher from the West Midlands, dressed in wedding clothes and posed on the steps of Number 10 with a gift wrapped package containing signatures.

    Mrs Curnow was prevented from bringing a bunch of flowers into Downing Street on security grounds.

    When the website PinkNews carried a brief report and video of the Downing Street photo opportunity, attention in the comments section turned to the couple themselves.

    One reader posted a message asking: “I wonder if we can get their addresses so we can send them a different type of petition …”

    A link to Mr Curnow’s Facebook page was quickly posted below. Meanwhile links to Mr Curnow’s Facebook page were being circulated on Twitter including by Kevin Peel, a Manchester City Councillor.

    Among messages to Mr Curnow from other users was one which read: “I know that you and your ---- should be getting quite a few of these messages, many people on my Facebook account are posting a link to here.

    “I say BRING ON THE HATE! I really hope that both you morons get all the hate and threats in the world.

    “You deserve nothing but sadness.”

    One sent to Mrs Curnow added: “I really hope you and your husband turn out infertile and die of cancer.

    “That would be something to celebrate.”

    A separate Facebook group was set up describing them as “homophobic”.

    After receiving more than 100 direct messages the couple changed their security settings to block incoming messages other than from friends.

    They have reported the matter to Northumbria Police but yesterday officers claimed that there was no evidence of a crime being committed as the messages did not contain direct threats.

    “We are really shocked and saddened at what’s happened,” said Mr Curnow.

    “I’ve protected my wife Esther from the worst of it, but she’s is understandably distressed, as any young wife would be.

    “We’re at a loss to understand how people could be so vicious. All we did was hand in a petition at Downing Street. Surely there’s room for people to disagree without resorting this kind of hatred and abuse.

    “By all means let’s have a debate – especially as the public haven’t had the chance to vote on this issue.

    “But the bullies are trying to shut down the debate. We’re shaken and upset, but we won’t let them get us down.”

    The abuse comes after the Archbishop of York received racist hate mail after he publicly voiced opposition to gay marriage and David Burrowes, the Tory MP, received a death threat.

    Cllr Peel, who represents Manchester’s City Centre ward and is the council’s lead member of gay men’s issues, said he could not condone the “horrible” messages others had sent.

    But he added: “If you are the public face of a campaign to deny the right of marriage to other people you should be prepared to hear the opposite view from people who don’t agree with you.

    “Being in the press, standing outside Downing Street in wedding garb and handing in a petition saying people like me should not be allowed to marry – I don’t see why it is not OK for people, sensible people, to say ‘why do you have that view?’.”
    Thoughts? Personally I am with Cllr Peel - if you engage in such an overt and controversial political stunt then you should prepare yourself for attacks from the other side of the debate.
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    Oh no someone said some bad things about me on the internet.
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    Tit for tat, anyone? (It's not even tit for tat, seeing as it sounds like the criticism of the couple wasn't even constructive, just abusive.)
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    Would it be ok if a gay couple were attacked in the same manner for signing a pro-same sex marriage pettition? What if it was an interracial couple?
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    (Original post by ckingalt)
    Would it be ok if a gay couple were attacked in the same manner for signing a pro-same sex marriage pettition? What if it was an interracial couple?
    The fact is these weren't sexual minorities so it's funny. The difference between attacking a gay couple for signing a pro-same sex marriage petition and attacking a straight couple for signing an anti-same sex marriage petition is that the former is fighting to improve their own lives and the latter is fighting to persecute and keep down gay people. It is not a straight person's business to deny a gay person's right to marry. I hate it when people stick their noses in other people's business. However, if a straight person was to support gay person I don't see any problem.
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    Mr Curnow, a charity researcher originally from Wales, and his wife, a primary schoolteacher from the West Midlands, dressed in wedding clothes and posed on the steps of Number 10 with a gift wrapped package containing signatures.

    What. The hell.
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    I wish Mr & Mrs Curnow a long, happy and fruitful marriage

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    While they have the right to believe in whatever they want to believe in, I believe nobody has any right to dictate what others should believe in.

    And this couple are trying to do that. They have no right to say who can and cannot marry.

    Last time I checked, religion didn't have a monopoly on marriage anyway.

    And their petition was calling for denying gays their right to get married so in my opinion, they deserve this hate.

    I'm not gay but I don't believe I have any right in telling other people how to live their life.
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    (Original post by Carecup)
    Oh no someone said some bad things about me on the internet.
    Well said, if someone doesn't have enough decency to close the laptop screen when they don't like what they are looking at they are just stupid!
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    I disagree with their petition strongly, but I am also against the reaction to it.

    Bullying people with threats and vile abuse like that is disgusting, and the people ought to be ashamed of themselves, even if they were fighting for a just cause IMO.

    Throwing horrid abuse at each other is how you win a stupid school yard fight when you're 15, not how you win a serious academic debate. Now, our side of the argument just looks disgusting, ignorant and vile. This has done nothing for our side of the argument, only make us look like the enemy. To be honest, I wish people like that were prevented from speaking. I would much rather listen to someone I disagree with talk properly than someone resort to such infantile, pathetic responses.
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    Whilst I don't agree with them being targeted for abuse, it does seem very short-sighted of them not to lock-down their Facebook profiles when taking part in quite a provocative act.

    Did they really not expect to upset people by trying to repress a minority? Them trying to play the victim card comes across as a tad crass.
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    I don't condone what the bullies are doing. Wishing cancer and infertility on someone is just so nasty, and I would never do that. If the pro-marriage campaigners would act politely in their condemnation of this couple's actions, then we would get further. Bullying tactics will not help

    However, I feel that they are both rather naive. The way they presented their petition was rude and spiteful.... I did not not appreciate having it rubbed in my face that I cannot get married right now. By all means, they can hand in their petition, but dressing and acting as they did was horrible on their part....how can they not recognise that they were also acting in a nasty and spiteful way? It seems they were oblivious to how their actions would be percieved and to the potential consequences. Although I repeat that some of the messages they have recieved should never ever have been sent to them

    I hope that they gain some awareness and understanding that they have not acted in a nice way, and I hope people think twice before sending nasty messges to them now. Write them a polite letter expressing your annoyance by all means, not hate mail
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    I disagree with the way they are responding, while the couple may have been restricting gay rights they weren't doing it in a homophobic or insulting way, so the progay rights protesters should have responded in a similarly civil manner. However I don't have any sympathy for the couple. They knew they were being very vocal about a subject many people feel strongly about and to think people wouldn't respond is very naive.
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    I have no sympathy for them. The abuse they've received may be unpleasant and unnecessary - and I don't condone it - but it can't have been unexpected.

    The way in which they delivered the petition was spiteful and shallow - it wasn't a simple expression of their political or social views, it was a publicity stunt calculated to stir up hate and shame. They've destroyed whatever public symbolism their marriage had, because it's now forever going to be associated with their spite. It's ironic really.

    Not to mention, this whole business will be top of the list whenever anybody googles them for the rest of the century.
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    (Original post by ckingalt)
    Would it be ok if a gay couple were attacked in the same manner for signing a pro-same sex marriage pettition? What if it was an interracial couple?
    No, it isn't a comparison. The couple in the source were actively campaigning against someone elses rights, while the couple in you hypo are campaigning for rights. It's a different ball game.

    A better comparison would be a gay couple signing a petition against heterosexual marriage.
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    Seems to me as though this is karma for pissing on someone's parade for no good reason.
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    I don't condone this behaviour against them. I thick it's horrible and as someone who has experienced bullying (albeit not on this scale), I feel a certain level of sympathy.

    However, they shouldn't have signed it and when you act with ignorance and spite, you should expect a certain amount back. Hopefully they will be a bit careful in future when they actively support an oppression of people's rights.
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    I'm embarrassed that these people live in the same area as me.
    Back on topic, saying they should become infertile and die of cancer is a bit far, but at the same time I've got absolutely no sympathy for them.
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    No one deserves the abuse they're getting. It's ridiculous that these trolls think they have the moral high ground.


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