Updated again Saturday afternoon
A demonstration against the Bishop of Rochester is planned at Rochester Cathedral on Saturday.
Kent Online reports as follows:
Bishop denies gay prejudice claims – but protest is planned
One of the county’s cathedrals will be the stage for a gay rights group’s demonstration this weekend.
International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO) is angry at the Bishop of Rochester’s opposition to an homosexual American bishop attending a key church meeting.
But the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali said he respected all people no matter their sexuality.
A spokesperson for the group said: “The Bishop can change his religion but, just as he cannot change his skin colour, we cannot change our sexuality.”
IDAHO also believes the bishop has opposed gay rights measures such as child adoption by gay partners.
The group will be protesting at Rochester Cathedral on Saturday.
Anglican Mainstream reports that the bishop has issued a statement, though I could not find it on the diocesan website. Here is what AM reports:
A public notice of a demonstration against the Bishop of Rochester has been circulated (see below).
The Bishop of Rochester has responded.
An IDAHO Day demo will be held outside Rochester Cathedral, Medway, Kent from 1200-1300 hrs. The Bishop of Rochester, the Rt. Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, has fairly regularly spoken out against LGBT rights. Late last year he spoke against civil partnerships and child adoption by gay couples. He has since apparently decided not to attend the forthcoming Lambeth Conference, due to be held in Canterbury (University site) in July/August 2008. Mainly it appears due to the gay issue and the position of Bishop Gene Robinson. Bishop Robinson is coming to the conference anyway and we will be challenging the Bishop of Rochester to stay in the UK an go and meet with and talk to Gene in Canterbury.
Further, the Bishop of Rochester has himself suffered and complained about abuse and even death threats because he converted from Islam to Christianity. Since he now knows exactly what such hatred is like, we will be asking why he still feels unable to make common cause with groups such as LGBT people who have are still suffering the same merely because of our sexuality including regularly from religionists. The Bishop can change his religion but, just as he cannot change his skin colour, we cannot change our sexuality. Neither he nor us, nor indeed anyone; should have to uffer abuse, threats or attacks because of such things. All will be welcome to join us whether LGBT or straight friends on the day. The gay run pub The Ship in Rochester High St- a few hundred yards away should be open for refreshments also. PLEASE NOTE THE EMAIL ADDRESS IS FOR USE WITH THIS DEMO ONLY.
Statement regarding the demonstration on 17 May 2008
I acknowledge and respect the equal dignity of all – regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation. There is no place for the harassment or persecution of anyone for whatever reason.
We are thankful that in this country there is freedom of meeting and expression for all.
The Bible and the Church teach that the proper expression of our sexuality is in the context of marriage. This has to do with God’s purposes in creating us, respect for persons and the importance of the family as a basic unit of society.
Saturday morning update
The Medway Messenger carries a fuller report, Gay rights group set for cathedral protest concluding with this:
…Medway Police said they were aware of the demonstration. A spokesman said: “We are aware of a planned protest on Saturday and we will police it appropriately.”
May 17 marks the day the World Health Organisation removed homosexuality from it’s list of recognised mental illnesses 18 years ago.
The day will also see Kent Police relaunch a telephone line to report homophobic acts…
Saturday afternoon update
And now, there is a much longer report on Kent News headlined Gay rights campaigners to protest at cathedral. This includes a detailed account of how Kent Police are taking seriously the issue of homophobic behaviour. The article was on the front page of the Kentish Saturday Observer as you can see from this PDF file.