The debate around marriage equality in Australia gets uglier by the day.
Despite warnings from LGBT+ activists that a plebiscite on same-sex marriage would lead to animosity towards the community – which it already has – the country is expected to take part in a postal vote on the issue later this month.
Now, a priest at a Greek Orthodox Church in Melbourne has come under fire for allegedly demanding his flock vote no in the marriage equality vote, and later claiming that gay people ‘should be shot’.
Parishioner Liz Tasiopoulos told news.com.au that the comments were even more offensive as they came during a service which featured a memorial for a woman who committed suicide after struggling with her sexuality.
“The priest was screaming at us [that same-sex marriage] was blasphemy,” she said. “The comments were so hurtful I couldn’t stop crying.”
Some parishioners have taken to social media to defend the priest, claiming he actually said ‘My mouth is my gun’ in Greek, however no one has denied his anti-marriage equality comments, and Tasiopoulos say she stands by her claims.
“He pointed out everyone was to vote no,” she wrote in a now-deleted post on Greek Mums and Bubs Facebook page. “Then one lady stood up and said, ‘I’ll vote yes’. The priest said, ‘Shame on you’.
“She walked out then we all did the same as the girl we were there for was gay and committed suicide because she couldn’t come out. As we walked out the priest said that gays should be shot.
“I’m so disgusted by all of this that I will never return [to] church again.”
Tasiopoulos says other people left the church too, including a young gay man who she later consoled.
“A young man was in tears,” she continued. “I tried to console him as he had only just had the courage to come out. I told him God loves you, we love you, ignore him, while the priest was screaming at us that it’s blasphemy.”