Sunday, 27 June 2010

Times: Humanists and gay rights activists deplore statements by religious leaders

Friday, 25th June 2010 - 12:33CET

The views on marriage and sexuality expressed by the Catholic and Muslim leaders in Malta during a conference yesterday suggested a ‘marriage of convenience’ between the country's two largest religious denominations to propagate inherently flawed beliefs, the Malta Humanist Association and the Malta Gay Rights Movement said in a joint statement.

The MHA and the MGRM said they were all in favour of inter-cultural dialogue, but from a humanist perspective, it was alarming that such influential institutions should use their combined strength to prevent couples of the same gender from marrying, simply because of an ancient myth about a man, a woman and a talking snake.
They said that quotes attributed to Arbishop Paul Cremona and Ammar Hreba, the head of the Islamic Centres and Propagation Bureau, suggested that the local Catholic and Muslim community leaders inclined towards a literal interpretation of the creation myth from their respective scriptures.

"The Malta Humanist Association - being an organisation rooted in the principles of science and rationality – cannot but reject interpretations which disregard all scientific knowledge on the subject of humanity’s origins: especially when such distortions are used for political ends, in order to influence legislation that affects the private lives of thousands of people," the statement said.

It said it was also regrettable that religious leaders (Mr Hreba in particular) would resort to such alarmist language with regard to same-sex unions.

The MHA and MGRM both strongly deplore such language which they said was an example of hate speech, and urged Mr Hreba to retract his statement on the family and same sex marriage and apologise for the hurt caused to thousands of Maltese citizens currently in same-sex relationships.

Mr Hreba said yesterday: "If we let the family collapse, thanks to the negative directions of the media, this will lead to catastrophes and destruction. Same-sex marriages, for instance, destroy the entity of how family began with Adam and Eve."
The Malta Gay Rights Movement further held that same-sex marriage was no more a threat to heterosexual couples and straight families than space exploration or deep sea diving.

"It is regrettable that the focus should be on same-sex marriage, rather than on the real threat to families of all shapes and sizes, that is: poverty, poor parenting, inadequate housing, low educational aspirations and attainment; poor mental health, child abuse, domestic violence and unemployment, among others," it said.
The Malta Humanist Association found it strange that the Church would cite only ‘divorce’ and ‘polygamy’ as examples of areas where it disagreed with Islam.
"One would have thought the Church founded by Christ would also object - as Christ did - to the death penalty for adultery (which Sharia law applies only in the case of women), as well as for atheism and apostasy - a state of fact which flies in the face of decency, and also blatantly breaches fundamental human rights."

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