Cyprus Mail

Bishop’s anti-gay comments ‘fuel hatred’, Accept says

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LGBTI rights group Accept on Friday denounced anti-gay comments by the Bishop of Morphou Neophytos saying they fueled hatred and homophobia.

Neophytos has been under fire since July 25 when it emerged he said during a speech in June that homosexuality is usually a problem transferred to a foetus when a pregnant woman has anal sex and enjoys it. The desire to do the same transfers to the foetus, he said. He also said that gay men have a ‘nasty smell ’ and a specific ‘stink’.

In the same speech, the bishop also said: “In a country that carries out so many abortions and murders its children, is it impossible that a murderer could be among us?” The comments were made in light of the murders by serial killer Nicos Metaxas.

“We denounce the sexist, misogynistic, and homophobic character of the speech by the Bishop, and also the secondary, indirect, and unfounded stigmatism of people who live with HIV,” the statement by the rights movement said.

Comments such as the ones made by the Bishop directly result in hatred towards the LGBTI community and indirectly, to psychological and other forms of violence, the group stressed.

“Furthermore, they encourage the audience to view LGBTI persons as polluted, dangerous, filthy, and sickening. At the same time, by targeting specific societal groups they are paving the road towards the normalisation of hate speech and obscurantism.”

Accept applauded the fact that the government and most political parties objected to the Bishop’s remarks and that an investigation has been ordered by Attorney-General Costas Clerides.

In their announcement, Accept LGBTI Cyprus informed the public the group has already sent an official letter regarding this topic to the attorney-general which has been shared with the ombudsman, the commissioner for the protection of children’s rights, the government spokesman, and the adviser to the President of the Republic for issues, relating to multiculturalism, acceptance, and respect to diversity and has requested meetings with most of the political parties to discuss the function and implementation of the hate speech law.

Accept also condemned therapies utilised by some priests of the Orthodox Church of Cyprus, which are of controlling nature, and try ‘to cure’ homosexuality through repentance.

“Following the Bishop’s comments Accept LGBTI Cyprus has received testimonies of people that underwent such therapies and in most of those cases, the individuals have suffered psychosomatic problems, low self-esteem, and had suicidal thoughts. We want to point out that performing conversion therapies towards LGBTI persons have been condemned not only by the UN but also more specifically by the European Parliament in March 2018 and January 2019 with resolutions condemning any form of conversion therapy and called upon all members states to pass laws criminalising such practices.”

In closing, Accept stressed that Christianity was based on love, kindness, and respect towards other people.

“Based on this, we believe that nobody should make statements that promote hate or violence, and we ask from both the legal and the political system but also the society to condemn this particular incident or any other similar stances.”

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