IDAHO 2008, the International Day Against Homophobia, announced on 16 May that a demonstration would be held outside Rochester Cathedral on Saturday 17 May from 1200-1300 hrs. against the Bishop of Rochester’s homophobia. May 17 marks the day the World Health Organisation removed homosexuality from its list of recognised mental illnesses 18 years ago.
The protest against the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali was planned because he has spoken out against LGBT rights, civil partnerships and child adoption by gay couples. Bishop Michael is one of the few English bishops to have announced that he is not attending the Lambeth Conference.
The IDAHO web site asks why he feels unable to make common cause with groups such as LGBT people who are still suffering the same merely because of our sexuality including regularly from religionists. “Just as he cannot change his skin colour, we cannot change our sexuality. Neither he nor us, nor indeed anyone; should have to suffer abuse, threats or attacks because of such things.”
Bishop of Rochester’s 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.
Local newspapers reported that IDAHO has branded the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali homophobic because of his opposition to Bishop Gene Robinson attending the Lambeth Conference in July.
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.”
The day will also see Kent Police relaunch a telephone line to report homophobic acts.
To report a hate crime committed in Kent call 0800 328 9162.