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Cyprus

Backlash against ‘hateful’ Archbishop over anti-gay comments (Updated)

Archbishop Chrysostomos has announced that the Church plans on establishing schools that will teach among other things that homosexuality is “an unnatural choice”.

The comment drew the ire of Accept-LGBTI Cyprus, which said it was high time the Church started loving their neighbour, a reference to the New Testament. It would also report the Archbishop to the attorney-general, it said.

Commenting on how he would talk about homosexuality to pupils that might themselves belong to that social group, the Archbishop, who was a guest at Mega TV’s show, Veto, said that he would tell them that homosexuality is a sin and unnatural and that one ought to struggle to overcome it.

“I would tell them that humans ought to learn how to struggle,” the Archbishop said.

He added that just as people who decide to become monks turn against their nature, but they succeed, it could be the same for homosexuals.

“A person that intends on becoming a monk is out to fight against his own nature. To go against one’s nature is very difficult, it is easier to overcome what’s unnatural,” he said.

Commenting on the fact that monks choose that lifestyle so why shouldn’t it be the same for homosexuals, the Archbishop said that monks battle their nature, “their bad self, because they want to transform it” and because they strive to become better persons to help society at large.

Asked about how the Church perceives homosexuals, he said that they were establishing schools “that will give children principles”.

“We will demand that proper people will come out them (schools), complete personalities, to help the country and to lead exemplary lives,” the Archbishop said.

He added that by next September, the Church would establish ten kindergartens and two years later it would also establish two primary schools, followed by two secondary education schools six years after that.

“We will have an exemplary education,” the Archbishop said. The schools, he said, will be under the education ministry.

Asked about how the schools would tackle homosexuality, he said that there has always been homosexuality but that there was also a different way.

“Do you believe homosexuality is a new trend? Humans were always the same, they (homosexuals) always existed. But there was also a way,” the Archbishop said.

He added that society must learn to overcome “certain anomalies”. “We have lost all measure today. Therese things are unacceptable”.

In their announcement, Accept said the promotion of hate by anyone, let alone from the Church of Cyprus and particularly by the Archbishop himself, “causes anger and sadness to all, regardless of their religious beliefs”.

“The Archbishop uses a rhetoric of hatred very easily and with it only manages to expose himself while hurting and causing distress to members of his own flock that belong to the LGBTI community, creating questions for their own existence,” it said.

Regardless of what the Archbishop says, being religious and at the same time gay, bi, trans or intersex should not be contradictory, Accept said.

“Morality and belief have nothing to do with sexual orientation, gender identity or sex characteristics and a person can both be LGBTI and simultaneously follow the path of God and his teachings.”

God, based on teachings, is a creator and not a punisher regardless of what the Primate said, it added. LGBTI people were not by default “worse people”, and therefore did not need to overcome “the bad in themselves”.

Homosexuality is neither a “fad nor an anomaly”, Accept said, and fortunately for LGBTI persons in Cyprus, they live in a secular state with a democracy and laws that do not allow the Archbishop to go on saying whatever he wants.

“It is high time the Church of Cyprus starts loving their neighbour, as they are,” Accept said.

“There should be an end to the hatred and discrimination promoted with such ease, without questions, without investigation, without effect. There is no space for this anymore.”

The LGBTI community was now ready to promote discussion on behalf of all marginalised groups subjected to discrimination by the Church – women, Cypriots of different ethnic origin, people of different colour, and those with different family or social situations.

Accept is to report the Archbishop to the attorney-general as a violation of the Criminal Code concerning the promotion of hatred due to sexual orientation or gender identity.

 


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