Changing Attitude Ireland has criticized the decision to ban an openly gay man from volunteering for work with youth groups at Methodist and Church of Ireland churches in Ballinamallard, Co Fermanagh, reports the Irish Times.
Frankie Dean, the volunteer, has attended the Methodist church in Ballinamallard for 15 years. He responded to an appeal to help a new youth minister working between the Methodist and local Church of Ireland churches offering to provide a musical workshop to the youth group. His Minister, Rev Kenneth Lindsay, deemed him unsuitable as a volunteer because he us openly gay, stating: “I feel that such people are inappropriate role models.”
In the current edition of the Fermanagh Herald, Rev Lindsay said this was his decision and no one else’s: “I would make it again tomorrow, no matter what it’d cost me. I feel that such people are inappropriate role models and I stand by that.”
Mr Dean said he was told it was considered that, if he was involved in the project, there was a likelihood “young people will turn gay”. He rejected what he felt to be this misinformed view and told Rev Lindsay and the BBC Northern Ireland Sunday Sequence programme he has youth work qualifications and was vetted under relevant child protection procedures.
The spokesperson for Changing Attitude Ireland, Dr Richard O’Leary said: “If being known to be gay becomes accepted as a reason for being excluded from participation in lay voluntary activities in church, then choir stalls, organ benches and church organisations will be noticeably depleted.”