Christian Churches Drive Rising Homophobic Violence

Burned out church, by Ben Grogan

Peter Tatchell said it in the  London Evening Standard – homophobia in the UK is the worst it’s been for  years, and it’s being driven by bigoted churchmen and politicians.

“They claim to support love and marriage but they want to deny gay couples the right to marry the person they love. Then, having demanded the law discriminate by barring same-sex partners from getting married, they have the audacity to insist that they are not homophobic.

Let’s be blunt: a person who opposes legal equality for LGBT people is homophobic — in the same way that a person who opposes equal rights for black people is racist. They are heterosexual supremacists who want to maintain their dominance and reserve for themselves the privilege of marriage.”

Yes, the religion that markets itself as a beacon of peace and love is busy putting anti-gay mobs on the streets, fanning the flames of hatred, and ignoring anti-gay crimes. Pretty soon they’ll have caught up with the Muslims.

But not yet in the UK. Christian-fuelled anti-gay violence has so far only happened in countries where churches play a more central role in society.

Otherwise London too might have seen hundreds of thousands of deluded homophobes flooding the streets, egged on by Rome and backed by violent neo-fascists, as happened in Paris.

“About 200 young people, many of them masked, pelted police lines with bottles, stones, fireworks and flares. The crowd – led bizarrely at one stage by a lone bagpiper – chased and beat up TV crews and press photographers. Police and gendarmes responded with tear gas and baton charges.

There were surreal battle scenes on the Esplanade des Invalides beside the foreign ministry as 200 gendarmes in riot gear formed into defensive squares to beat off attacks from running bands of protesters. Although a hard core of about 200 hard-right youths started the fighting, many hundreds of other, soberly dressed, middle-class protesters cheered them on. Priests in long cassocks observed the battles without attempting to intervene.

Things got out of hand in Tbilisi, Georgia, coming close to mob murder, where the Orthodox priests did more than stand idly by, or pass by on the other side: they were the violent rock throwing mob, intent on lynching the queers.

Heavy police cordons failed to contain furious anti-gay activists led by priests, who rushed to the new gay parade location. Upon breaking into the public garden, the agitated crowd engaged in a violent pursuit, beating and throwing stones at all the people who were thought to be representing and advocating for the minorities.

At least 28 people were injured in clashes, and 14 of them hospitalized, Georgian Minister of Health David Sergeenko said. A journalist suffering blunt force trauma to the head and a passer-by who had his leg broken were among the injured.

By contrast, when the Pentacostal churches brought out around 100,000 protestors against marriage equality in Rio, the event seems to have been a peaceful demonstration with no overt right-wing political involvement.

The homophobic hand of Rome was in evidence in New York, where they have been a spate of anti-gay attacks in recent weeks.

“As of Friday night, New York City has been home to nine anti-LGBT violent hate crimes this month, and 27 this year — almost double the rate of last year, which saw a double-digit increase over the previous year. But instead of denouncing anti-gay violence, instead of even acknowledging it, instead of calling for tolerance and love, Cardinal Timothy Dolan issued a directive to preach anti-LGBT hate in Church”

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), the senior representative of the Roman Catholic Church in America, has said nothing about the violent hate crimes in his own back yard. Instead he has instructed all parishes to preach against same sex marriage and for traditional marriage for the next few weeks.  But he has gone further:

“In a blog post falsely claiming  “All Are Welcome!,” Timothy Cardinal Dolan belittled LGBT people, demanded we wash our “dirty hands” before he could accept us into his Church — and then literally barred LGBT and allied Catholics from entering NYC’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Cardinal Dolan’s home, unless they literally washed the dirt from their hands.”

The closer we come to winning recognition as full and equal members of society, the viler and more violent become the verbal and physical attacks from those who are determined to hold onto their illusions of superiority.

It will get worse before it gets better, so be prepared. But it will get better. We are closer than ever before.

UPDATE: Cardinal Dolan has now mentioned in passing the attacks on homosexuals in New Your.

About the author

Veteran gay writer and speaker, Doug was one of the founders of the UKs pioneering GLBTI newspaper Gay News (1972) , and of the second, Gay Week, and is a former Features Editor of Him International. He presented news and current affairs on JOY 94.9 FM Melbourne for more than ten years. "Doug is revered, feared and reviled in equal quantities, at times dividing people with his journalistic wrath. Yet there is no doubt this grandpa-esque bear keeps everyone abreast of anything and everything LGBT across the globe." (Daniel Witthaus, "Beyond Priscilla", Clouds of Magellan, Melbourne, 2014)