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Photo of Peter Tatchell at Greenbelt
Peter Tatchell, the Pope and the Archbishop

Posted on 28 August 2010, 22:02

At the Greenbelt festival, I’ve just been at the press conference with Peter Tatchell, who’s speaking here on the spread of homophobia in Africa, which in many cases is supported by the churches and underpinned by Christian proof-texting. In the conference he was asked about the Pope’s state visit to Britain, which he is protesting at a public debate next week, and at a march and rally from Hyde Park Corner on the day the Pope arrives in Britain.

He said, ‘Britain doesn’t give state visits to the Grand Mufti of Mecca or the Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem, so why are we giving it to the Pope? Most of the events in his visit to the UK are pastoral or are about proselytising for the Catholic Church, so why should the taxpayer fund it? In addition, the Pope holds harsh, extreme and intolerant views on a range of moral subjects, including women’s rights, gay equality and the use of condoms to prevent the spread of HIV.’

Asked if he would try to arrest the Pope, similar to the citizen’s arrest he made on Robert Mugabe in 1999, he said, ‘I don’t think it’s going to be possible, much as I would like to.’

I asked him if he was at all sympathetic to the dilemma of Rowan Williams in trying to maintain Anglican church unity over the issue of homosexuality. He flatly answered no.

He said, ‘Rowan Williams is a lovely man, but he’s deeply compromised. He fully supports gay equality and human rights for LGBT people in private, but hasn’t got the courage to say so publicly. At the drop of a hat he will denounce Bishop Gene Robinson, but won’t say a word about the persecution of gay people around the world by his fellow Christian leaders. He’s gone to great lengths to reassure out-and-out homophobes such as Akinola and Orombi, and has criticised the appointment of gay bishops in the US.’

‘He’s been compromised by holding high office. What’s the point of being Archbishop if you can’t hold on to your beliefs?’

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From the above article, Peter Tatchell’s comments are not new. What is significant, however, is that his campaigning and wider issues relating to LGBT and faith are being engaged with willingly by mainstream UK Christianity.

Well done to Greenbelt’s organisers for providing this forum and having the courage to stick to their intentions in the face of protest from conservative Christian groups.

Tim Moore, Sat 28 Aug, 22:59

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