LGBTQ+ activists gather outside Kerry Church to condemn “hate speech” by priests

LGBTQ+ activists held a “meeting of love” and placed Pride flags and flowers on the railings of a church in Co Kerry, where Father Sean Sheehy condemned transgenderism and same-sex couples from the altar last weekend.

One of around 60 activists, Dzana Raszewska, 29, was heartened by the response from parishioners who came to morning mass at St Mary’s Church in Listowel today.

“People stopped when they went to Mass and gave us flowers,” Dzana told the Irish Independent.

“That was nice. It made me cry knowing that most of the people were supporting us.

“We quietly and respectfully laid the flowers and flags in front of the church. This was not a protest but a meeting of love to show that hate has no place. There is only room for love.”

Dzana, who is originally from Bosnia but lives in Killarney, is bisexual and identifies as non-binary and uses the pronouns she/they. They are Buddhists and have a “strong belief in God”.

They said it was “particularly hurtful” to hear Father Sheehy’s “hate speech” as “someone who believes in God.”

“His view is that someone like me shouldn’t be allowed to pray anymore because of my sexual orientation,” they said.

“It’s not OK. What about those of us who love God and want to belong to a faith? Where do we go to share our faith? Whether Catholic or Buddhist, God loves us all.

“So we responded to Father Sheehy’s words with love.”

Activists said they put Bible statements like “Love one another as I love you” on placards, but Dzana said a man from St Mary’s removed them, saying they were “sinful.”

“How could these be sinful statements when they come from the Bible?” asked Dzana. “It’s not okay to pick from the Bible and write hate statements when the Bible is so much about loving everyone equally.”

The yoga teacher, who recently wrote her first novel, Out of the Dark, said the event was welcomed by most of the community and helped empower not only LTBTQ+ people, but also their families and friends who are supported by Father Sheehy had been hurt to provide a platform for preaching.

Meanwhile Father Sheehy led a prayer service in Tralee Market Square on Saturday afternoon.

The retired priest said he will continue to celebrate Mass at his home for people who chose to listen.

Bishop of Kerry Ray Browne criticized Father Sheehy’s statements, saying: “The views expressed do not represent the Christian position”.

More than 30 parishioners walked out after Father Sheehy’s homily condemned transgenderism, same-sex couples and the sale of condoms to teenagers.

Father Sheehy told believers at St Mary’s Church that homosexual couples were sinful and criticized the HSE’s free contraception for “encouraging promiscuity”.

Kingdom Pride’s Sabrina Crotty also laid flowers and flags at the church today.

Sabrina felt Father Sheehy was getting “too much airtime” last week after the cleric appeared on back-to-back RTÉ Radio 1 programs.

“It was nice to see the families showing up today,” said Sabrina. “It was important that not everyone who came to the demo was queer.

“Everyone there had a queer family member or friend. And they showed solidarity with these people.”

While she wasn’t “surprised” by Father Sheehy’s views, Sabrina said she wished the media “would do a better job” in not “giving space to transphobic and queerphobic rhetoric.”

She added that such statements were “sensationalist” and “hate-based.”

“It’s cheap and cheesy and I think the media could be a lot better at countering such hatred,” she said.

The activists told the Irish Independent they want tougher legislation to ensure hate speech is not allowed on any platform in Ireland.

They also called for Pride to be given a prominent platform via the media in the future. LGBTQ+ activists gather outside Kerry Church to condemn “hate speech” by priests

Fry Electronics Team

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