LGBT+ Catholic group told there is no room for them at ‘families’ conference

Organisers of a Catholic ‘families’ conference are claiming there is no room anywhere in the 42 acre complex for LGBT+ Catholics to have a single stall.

The Pope is set to visit Ireland from August 25-26 to attend the World Meeting of Families, a Catholic event that has attracted controversy due to its handling of LGBT+ issues.

Several Catholic LGBT+ groups have come forward to allege that they are being deliberately blocked from participating in the event, while materials referring to same-sex couples were removed from a pamphlet ahead of the conference.

The Global Network of Rainbow Catholics, which represents LGBT+ Catholics across the world, was this week told its application for a stall at the event has been officially rejected after months of stalling.

The group said that its bid for an exhibition hall booth was formally refused, with WMF Exhibition Co-Ordinator Paul McCann claiming the decision is due to “uncertainties over the amount of space we will have available for exhibitions because of other logistical considerations.”

The event will take place across the sprawling RDS complex in Dublin, which offers “capacity for up to 12,000 delegates on 42 acres.”

GNRC leaders expressed hopes that the decision “had nothing to do with our work for LGBTI equality” and said they “were keen to apply for a booth at the next World Meeting of Families.”

The group says its Secretary Frank De Bernardo will still be attending with press credentials in order to cover the event, and that GNRC will continue to engage with Catholic leaders.

At least two LGBT+ groups have alleged that they have been entirely shut out of the event.

Pro-LGBT+ group We Are Church Ireland also went public to allege that the group is “being refused an exhibition stand” at the event “because WAC Ireland stands for the full equality of Women and LGBTQI people.”

The conference will include an address from pro-LGBT+ priest Father James Martin, but the exclusion of LGBT+ groups has led to public condemnations from several prominent Catholics. 

Nearly 10,000 people have called for the removal of the pro-LGBT+ priest from the event.

Ireland’s Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said he will raise LGBT+ rights with Pope Francis on his visit for the event.

Ireland’s Prime Minister Leo Varadkar (JOHN THYS/AFP/Getty)

Varadkar, one of the few openly gay world leaders, has said that he will not pass up the opportunity to raise LGBT+ rights with the Pope.

He told the media: “I’m really glad the Pope is visiting Ireland, the visit is very welcome… you can see the huge interest from the general public.

“I’m not sure exactly what the detail of my interaction with him is going to be.

“[Our meeting at] Dublin Castle may be very short but, first of all, I will want to welcome him to Ireland and, if the opportunity arises, I will certainly want to express to him the real concerns Irish people have.”

In addition to sexual abuse scandals, Varadkar said he would “[share] our views in society and the government’s view that families come in all sorts of different forms and that includes families led by same-sex parents, and one-parent families as well.”

Pope Francis (ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty)

Earlier this year Varadkar expressed a “hope” that LGBT families would also be celebrated at the event.

He said: “The Government is very much of the view that there are many different types of families and that all types should be celebrated, including the traditional nuclear family with the man married to the woman with children, but also one-parent families, families led by grandparents, and families led by same-sex couples.

“We will make it known in our meetings with the organisers that in line with our commitment to personal liberty and equality before the law, the Government’s view is that families in all their forms should be celebrated.”

His comments were supported by Ireland’s former President Mary McAleese, a devout Catholic and a strong advocate for LGBT rights.