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Ombudswoman weighs in on Bishop controversy

Morphou diocese says Bishop Neophytos’ gay comments taken out of context as public disapproval continues


Criticism towards Bishop Neophytos is picking up steam, following his comments about homosexuality and abortion that stirred debate and prompted all sorts of reactions.

Morphou Bishop Neophytos has been taking heat this week after a video of controversial comments he made about gay sex was posted online. Neophytos said homosexuality is a trait transmitted during anal sex, adding that a man of God could detect gayness in men by a stench emanating from their bodies.

Reference to serial killer's young victims

The bishop also raised eyebrows when he reportedly criticized people who were disgusted by the murders of two young children in the recent serial killer case.

Neophytos was quoted as saying that some people were being hypocritical about mourning the loss of the two little girls while they did not seem to care about abortions of babies.

Bishop says comments taken out of context

The gay comments prompted a huge reaction from social groups and politicians, as well as members of the public, criticising the bishop who said his comments were taken out of context.

“We are witnessing cyber bullying against Morphou Bishop Neophytos coming from journalists and enemies of the church, who have taken some of his comments out of context and twisted their meaning,” a statement from the Morphou diocese said on its website.

'The statements appear to have undoubtedly insulted womanhood, motherhood, and diversity in the choice of sexual orientation' the ombudswoman said

The statement went on to say that homosexuality was a topic favoured by progressives, adding that a sensationalized story can profit the tabloids.

But Ombudswoman Maria Stylianou-Lottides, who weighed in on the issue, pointed out that the comments and views expressed by the bishop were reinforcing negative stereotypes against women and people who are gay.

“The statements made by the bishop appear to have undoubtedly insulted womanhood, motherhood, and diversity in the choice of sexual orientation,” the ombudswoman said.

Stylianou-Lottides also pointed out that the comments had singled out a specific group of people while “words about choosing freely a sexual orientation have shifted the burden of responsibility onto the woman, once again victimizing the female gender.”

The ombudswoman’s statement also made reference to the bishop’s remarks during a story he had relayed to his parishioners, when he said gay people had a “stench” that men of God could detect because they can smell homosexuality.

Neophytos had told his audience about a friend of his, a priest, who said he knew that a man was going out with other men just by the stench emanating from his body. The bishop went on to say that the priest then warned the parishioner, described as a handsome young man, to come to confession and also invited his parents whom he deemed responsible for their son’s homosexual tendencies.

In previous statements, Neophytos said homosexuality gets transmitted biologically during anal sex from parents to fetus during the “unnatural” act. He also said that the young man’s younger brother was not gay because their mother did not have anal sex when she conceived a second time.

The ombudswoman said while the comments may not amount to hate speech, it had to be said that the specific views and remarks had an underlying element of disparagement and rejection that could possibly lead to feeling of hostility and hate.”

Stylianou-Lottides then concluded that the set of views expressed by the bishop targeted a specific group of people, rendering them as “inferior” or “subservient” which meets the definition of racism.

Government spokesperson Prodromos Prodromou also commented on the issue, when he was asked on state radio Wednesday morning whether he was in favour of the separation between church and state.

Prodromou declined to give a one-word answer, clarifying that the church-state separation was the law of the land and there could be no doubt about the rights of people in a modern, secular state.

Cyprus  |  bishop  |  Morphou  |  gay  |  homosexuality  |  anal sex  |  abortion  |  ombudswoman  |  stereotypes  |  hate speech  |  homophobia  |  church  |  priest  |  Neophytos

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