Wednesday, 18 May 2011

MaltaToday: Evangelical alliance regrets offence caused to gay community

Carnations were handed out to passers-by in Valletta today as part of the International Day Against Homophobia. (Photo: Marisa Dunham Gaspar/Mediatoday)

Alliance says ‘converted homosexuals’ have right to celebrate, calls for protest to be cancelled.

The Evangelical Alliance of Malta (TEAM) has expressed its regret at the “unintentional offence” caused to the Malta Gay Rights Movement, which has called for a public protest tomorrow outside the headquarters of gay conversion pastor Gordon-John Manché.

As the movement marks the International Day against Homophobia, TEAM president Edwin Caruana – who represents 14 evangelical churches – called on MGRM to call off their demostration because there was “no breach of their rights by the public proclamation of a few individuals who made a personal choice to change their lifestyles without any outside coercion.”

Smash TV’s evangelical pastor Gordon-John Manché enraged many in the gay community and other people when he posted a Facebook event ‘Gay no more – Made new by the power of Christ’.

Manché was to present three men who claimed they were gay and then converted out of their homosexuality, something that angered the gay community and many others.

Manché said the event was testimonials from three men “who were homosexuals before giving their life to Christ” and denied claims that his wife Mariella Blackman, a psychologist who is also known amongst TV audiences, does ‘reparative treatment’ for gay men and women. “This is untrue. We work different jobs and we’re professional about it. I’m a pastor, she’s a psychologist.”

Today the Malta Gay Rights Movement said efforts to change a person’s sexual preferences were “not only useless but very harmful to people’s self-worth” because it made them believe there is something wrong with who they are.

“The protest is being organised to send a message to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their families that sexual orientation is something to be celebrated, not repressed,” MGRM coordinator Gabi Calleja said in a statement.

But the TEAM president Edwin Caruana is claiming the activists are trying to “drown out the rights and freedom of expression of others.”

“We do not oppose a peaceful demonstration. Yet it seems that this demonstration is in itself attacking the freedom of expression of others and is therefore non-essential. It is addressed towards River of Love, a particular group of Evangelical Christians following the public sharing of three members in that community, who were convicted by the Word of God and by the Holy Spirit to turn away from a homosexual lifestyle after recognizing the Lord Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. TEAM believes the Bible is the absolute truth for all morals and values. Therefore, we hold to the Biblical position towards homosexuality,” Caruana said.

Caruana also defended people’s right to publicly celebrate their gay conversion. “We believe these individuals have the right to express their joy at how they were changed by an encounter with the love of Christ in any way that they feel appropriate as long as this does not infringe on the rights and freedoms of others. They have shared their testimony within the River of Love Community and this event has stirred up hatred against them.”

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