Irish Times: Gay Christians thwarted by lack of acceptance, Belfast meeting is told

GAY CHRISTIANS who aspire to incorporate their sexuality with their spirituality have found “their efforts are often thwarted by the lack of acceptance within faith communities,” a public meeting in Belfast was told at the weekend.

It was organised following a description of homosexuality as an abomination by DUP MP Iris Robinson.

Prof Andrew Yip of Nottingham University continued that “this lack of acceptance can have damaging effects on their spiritual and sexual health, leading to, for instance, depression, a strong sense of guilt and shame, sexual risk-taking, and the dissociation from faith communities”.

He concluded that “for those gay and lesbian persons who find the strength and resources to rise above such structural limitations there is indisputable evidence of personal flourishing, as a result of living positively as spiritual and sexual beings”.

He was speaking at St George’s Church of Ireland parish church to an audience of Christian clergy and laity as well as people from gay and lesbian organisations.

Dr Richard O’Leary of the Changing Attitude Ireland group, which organised the event, said that “in the aftermath of the inflammatory remarks made about gay and lesbian people by Iris Robinson MP, we felt it was important that Christians, gays and gay Christians in Northern Ireland had an opportunity to hear some of the latest research on this whole area”.

The weekend lecture was part of a series of events organised by Changing Attitude Ireland on the theme of The Churches and Intolerance and which are funded by the Good Relations Unit of Belfast City Council.