Saturday, May 17, 2008

Call for church to recognise homophobia

A Brisbane gay Catholic advocate has called on the Catholic Bishops of Australia to include the International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO) in diocesan, parish and school calendars.

Tony Robertson first made his appeal to the bishops in 2005, when IDAHO was launched. IDAHO commemorates the removal of homosexuality from the General Assembly of the World Health Organization list of mental disorders on May 17, 1990.

The activist said he was encouraged to continue his campaign following a 2007 visit to his old school, St Joseph's Christian Brothers College in Geelong, during which he was able to address Year 12 students who had completed a unit of study on homophobia.

"It was encouraging to speak to young students as a gay man in a safe environment," he said.

"Sharing my experience as a young, gay man in a very different era at the college gave me an insight into the important role of mentoring that gay and lesbian Catholics can provide in our church community."

Robertson said homophobia continues to appear in much of the conversation about sexuality in the church.

In 2007, Robertson lodged a complaint of sexuality vilification against an online discussion forum sponsored by the Catholic Church. As a result of the complaint the church published an apology.

"My experience as a participant in online discussion forums about faith and sexuality has raised my concerns about a culture of homophobia which is evident among some of the contributors to such forums," Robertson said.

"The inclusion of the International Day Against Homophobia in church calendars will send a clear message to those in the church who fail to understand that the dignity of the human person is a core Catholic teaching which challenges homophobia in our community." +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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