METROPOLITAN Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley’s defence of a volunteer special constable who told Christian singer Harmonie London she was not allowed to sing church songs outside of church grounds prompted me to contact the Met press office.
I asked whether a special constable who told a drag queen she could not sing gay songs on Oxford Street would be dismissed from the force.
Sir Mark’s sympathy for officer Maya Hadzhipetkova in the Harmonie London incident, saying she was ‘doing her best’, prompted me to attempt a fictitious rewrite of the opening paragraphs of a news story about the controversy in the Mail on January 29:
A volunteer police officer told a drag queen that she was ‘not allowed to sing gay songs outside of LGBT clubs’ – before sticking her tongue out at her.
Drag queen Hermione Croydon, 73, regularly performs to passing shoppers on Oxford Street and has more than 300,000 subscribers on YouTube.
But she was stopped by a Metropolitan Police special constable and told: ‘No Mister, you’re not allowed to sing outside of LGBT clubs, by the way.’
The follow-up story in this scenario would involve not only the officer being dismissed from the Met but also prosecuted for misgendering. This story would be set in 2026 after Labour wins its landslide election victory in 2024 and has made misgendering a criminal offence carrying a two-year prison sentence.
I also asked the Met press office what might happen to a member of the public who complained about the drag queen’s singing. Would they be arrested for transphobic hatred or have a non-crime hate incident logged against them?
To be fair to the Met press office, who I find to be a professional and efficient outfit, it is difficult for them to comment on hypothetical scenarios, but I thought it was worth making the point with the Mail news desk and free speech campaigner Toby Young copied in.
Here is another imaginary news story from 2026, two years into Sir Keir Starmer’s first administration as Labour Prime Minister:
A member of the Church of England’s legislative body, its General Synod, has been charged with homophobic hate speech. If convicted, Benjamin John faces a seven-year prison sentence.
John was reported to the police after he quoted a text from the New Testament during a debate at February’s Synod meeting in London. Under the 2025 Prevention of Homophobic Hate Speech Act newspapers are prevented from quoting the text or giving the biblical reference. But the text was described by a Metropolitan Police spokesperson as ‘egregiously homophobic’.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Beatrice Careerist, said: ‘I speak on behalf of all my episcopal colleagues in unequivocally condemning John’s comments at the General Synod. There is no place for homophobia in the 21st century Church of England.’
Though Archbishop Careerist is fictitious, Benjamin John, who works for Christian Concern, is a member of the current General Synod, having been elected in 2021. In a speech at the Synod meeting in February 2023 during the debate over same-sex blessings, he asked the C of E’s bishops: ‘Please, bishops, I plead with you: withdraw the proposals and prayers, turn from this path that you are on, fear God not man, be the shepherds that God is calling you to be, protect the sheep entrusted into your care by driving out this teaching that perverts the grace of God into a licence for immorality, this teaching that tickles our ears to suit our desires, a teaching that leads to the broad road and not the narrow one.
‘It is not too late. Turn to the beautiful, wonderful, glorious gospel. Why make ourselves like the world when we have the one thing the world needs? The gospel of Jesus Christ where we receive our true identities as precious daughters and treasured sons of God.’
The Collect for today, the Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany, is a prayer that the Church would stay true to Christianity:
‘O Lord, we beseech thee to keep thy Church and household continually in thy true religion; that they who do lean only upon the hope of thy heavenly grace may evermore be defended by thy mighty power; through Jesus Christ our Lord.’