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Cyprus criticises Orthodox bishop for insulting gays

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — An official says the Cyprus government is “greatly troubled and dismayed” by an Orthodox Christian bishop’s comments on homosexuality, which he said were needlessly stirring up social tensions on the Mediterranean island nation.

Government spokesman Prodromos Prodromou said Tuesday that Morphou Bishop Neophytos’ remarks clash with Cyprus’ laws protecting the rights of all its citizens. The bishop claimed that homosexuality is transferred to unborn children if a pregnant woman has anal sex, a comment that has no basis in science.

Prodromou said the bishop’s remarks “insult the dignity and injures the reputation” of many citizens and should be retracted. He said Cyprus’ human rights commissioner also considers the remarks discriminatory.

The bishop was speaking at a June lecture, citing what he said were an Orthodox saint’s views about homosexuality.

Bishop Neophytos of Morphou made the ridiculous statement while speaking at a primary school in Akaki, Cyprus in June—the same event in which he made his claim about pregnant women.

In a video, released by Accept – LGBTI Cyprus, Neophytos tells the story of a “very handsome young man” who visited a “holy monk.”

“As he walked by… the monk said to him: ‘Young man I need to tell you… stop what you’re doing,’” Neophytos said.

“‘What am I ?’ Replied the young man.

“’This sleeping around. You’ll catch something, a disease, and die young. You should repent. There is joy in repenting.’

“‘How do you know what I’ve been doing?’ Replied the young man.

“‘God showed me,’ said the monk. ‘As you walked by me, you had a nasty smell. These acts you’re doing, laying with men have a specific stink which I recognise. This is how holy men receive information from God.’”

According to the bishop, the young man in the story was “helped by his family’s prayers and stopped his acts.”

Greek bishop mocked for anti-LGBT claims
After the initial video of Neophytos making his pregnancy claim was shared on social media earlier in June, many were quick to ridicule him.

“My mother has a lot of explaining to do,” joked journalist Benjamin Butterworth.

“Dread to think what my mum did to make me bisexual,” replied Robert Davey, a UK Bi Pride trustee, while LGBT rights group ACCEPT asked: “How are lesbians created?”

Legendary human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell reminded followers of the seriousness of the bishop’s claims.

“Just say no to religious homophobes & fundamentalists,” he tweeted.

Cyprus decriminalised homosexuality in 1998 and outlawed discrimination based on gender and sexuality in 2004, however the Orthodox church views same-sex relations as immoral.

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