Homophobic bishop branded un-Christian by MSP

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A Labour member of the Scottish Parliament has echoed comments from gay equality organisation Stonewall and branded the Bishop of Motherwell as un-Christian.

George Foulkes MSP tabled a motion condemning Bishop Joseph Devine’s comments that gay people attend Holocaust memorial events in order to “create for themselves the image of a group of people under persecution” as “unfortunate, outdated and un-Christian.”

Gay equality organisation Stonewall also criticised the Roman Catholic leader.

“The bishop has revealed himself once again to be deeply un-Christian and his comments are insulting to almost anyone who was affected by the Holocaust,” Stonewall chief executive Ben Summerskill told PinkNews.co.uk.

Mr Foulkes said that the bishop had caused hurt to gay people and enlightened Catholics reject all forms of prejudice including racism, sectarianism and homophobia.

Lib Dem MSP Iain Smith has filed a separate motion calling on the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland to distance himself from the bishop’s comments and support gay and lesbian asylum seekers from Iran who may face death if deported.

Mr Smith pointed out that Pope John Paul II’s encyclical, Evangelium Vitae, made clear that circumstances where the death penalty is acceptable are “very rare, if not practically nonexistent.”

Two Iranians facing deportation from the UK have received press coverage because they claim that they will be put to death if they return to their country of origin.

Yesterday the Home Secretary announced she would review the case of 19-year-old Mehdi Kazemi.

Pegah Emambakhsh, 40, who fled to Britain in 2005 after her girlfriend was sentenced to the death penalty, is still having her options for appeal explored.

The Home Office has rejected her application and the Court of Appeal has refused her application for a full hearing.

“I am writing to you both in your capacity as Cardinal Archbishop of Edinburgh and St Andrews and in your capacity as President of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland to ask that you and your brother bishops join the campaign to prevent the deportations of two individuals who risk the death sentence if they are returned to their native Iran,” Mr Smith said in a letter to Cardinal Keith O’Brien.

“Whilst I appreciate the Church has a particular stand point on homosexuality, I am sure you will agree with me that the sanctity of human life must come before such considerations.

“A public show of support would also be helpful to clarify the church’s position in relation to the comments made this week by the Bishop of Motherwell regarding the persecution of homosexuals.”