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NZAF shocked by gay hate campaign in church

September 13, 2006

NZAF shocked by gay hate campaign in church

The New Zealand AIDS Foundation says it is shocked by an anonymous hate campaign being carried out within the Presbyterian Church, which describes gays as “a cancer”.

Bumper stickers reading “Gays aren’t welcome in our church, help us let New Zealand know” and “Gays are a cancer in our church, let’s keep them out of leadership” have been sent to 500 members of the Presbyterian Assembly to garner support for a measure to ban gay clergy in the Church.

“The hateful and denigratory nature of the campaign is saddening,” says NZAF Executive Director Rachael Le Mesurier. “The question we’re asking today is – how Christian is hate? Propagating such hatred of people who have equal human rights under New Zealand law is deeply immoral.”

Distancing itself from the campaign is simply not enough if the Presbyterian Church wishes to regain its credibility with regard to human rights. “Although this campaign was carried out anonymously, someone within the church must know who is behind it,” Le Mesurier says. “This person had access to the mailing list of the entire Presbyterian Assembly.”

NZAF also says it is gravely concerned by a Human Rights Commission opinion that there is no legal recourse for the gay community, despite existing human rights provisions, and widespread acknowledgement – including from the Presbyterian Church – that the sticker campaign constitutes hate speech.

“Some might say that the gay community’s battles have all been won, but this clearly shows there is much work still to do,” Le Mesurier says. “The hateful climate created by this kind of dehumanising rhetoric impacts directly on the work of the AIDS Foundation, and this campaign has shown us that the current laws are not strong enough to protect vulnerable minorities from hate speech.”

ENDS

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