Archbishop Jason Gordon is being told to stop calling members of the LGBTQ+ community sinners, even if he stands with the Pope’s position that homosexual acts should not be criminalised.
Speaking on the Eye on Dependency radio programme with Garth St Clair and Natasha Nunez on Sunday evening, Archbishop Gordon was asked by the hosts to comment on Pope Francis’ recent comments on homosexuality.
Addressing reporters after visiting South Sudan in February, the Pope said while the Catholic Church cannot permit “sacramental” marriage of same-sex couples, the laws banning homosexuality were “a problem that cannot be ignored.”
In contextualising the Pope’s comments, Archbishop Gordon said, “We’ve said for a long time, hate the sin and not the sinner.”
The Archbishop said while civilisation has realised that the act of sodomy is “morally wrong,” whether or not it should be a capital crime, “is a whole other story.”
“So, adultery, sodomy, all of these things were capital crimes at one time, so as we move from it being a capital crime, the sodomy laws remain on the books as a law, where you can convict someone up to 25 years if they are convicted of sodomy, which is a strange set of sexual perversions,” Gordon added.
Gordon said the law was once used in England to confiscate lands.
“So, the question is, should it be a crime? Is it wrong? It is absolutely wrong. Is it moral? It is an immoral act, but is it a crime? That’s the question the Holy Father was raising and he’s saying whereas it is immoral and it is something that is not good for society, a person should not go to jail for 25 years because of the act,” he said.
But human rights activist Jason Jones yesterday said the church has no place in this discussion.
“What happens between two consenting adults in the privacy of their bedroom is not a matter for the church,” Jones said.
Jones also took issue with the Archbishop’s opening statement of, “hate the sin, love the sinner.”
“Once a catholic priest uses the term hate I switch off, because if you are trying to say it shouldn’t be illegal but we hate the sin, then you’re still condemning us and we don’t have any time for that,” he said.
Jones said the LGBTQ+ community will take no comfort in the Archbishop’s words even if they sound sympathetic to their struggles.
“It actually muddies the water and it creates even more confusion for the general public, because what does that mean? And that type of hypocritical standing on the fence does not help anyone.”
In 2018, Jones filed a lawsuit against the Government of Trinidad and Tobago, challenging two specific provisions of the Sexual Offence Act which criminalise buggery and serious indecency. The human rights activist at the time said those laws infringe upon his rights as a gay man.
Yesterday, he revealed to Guardian Media that he has, in fact, written to Pope Francis, challenging the head of the Catholic Church on his latest position on homosexuality.
He said, “After that statement, I wrote a letter saying it’s very nice of you to say that but I come from a country where we are still criminalised and it’s causing so much harm and your statement is not helping us.”
Jones is awaiting a reply.