A gay government official in Scotland has responded strongly and civilly on Twitter to to a homophobic email which blamed a recent church fire on his sexuality.
Over the summer, St. Simon’s Catholic Church in Glasgow suffered a devastating fire, reported BBC. Afterwards, Kevin Stewart, Scotland’s Minister for Mental Wellbeing and Social Care, received a targeted email. According to The Herald, the email said that God was “confirming his prophetic word” and a “deliverance from homosexuality.”
Stewart shared a screenshot of the email on Twitter, adding his response with the following:
“It’s rare that I receive homophobic rants, but it seems that someone believes that my sexuality ’caused’ the devastating fire at St. Simon’s in Glasgow & that I need to be ‘delivered from my homosexuality.’ Unsurprisingly, I’ve refused the offer to ‘pray the gay’ out of me.”
Twitter users responded with warm support:
“Sorry to see you receive nonsense like this. Solidarity.”
“With you all the way, Kevin.”
“This has no place in any society. Much love.”
Stewart later told Aberdeen Journals:
“It is galling that in 2021 that a small minority of people still think this way and it is utterly abhorrent that this person believes that they can ‘pray the gay’ out of me or anyone else. Scotland has made huge progress on equality issues in the past couple of decades and long may that continue. We should strive to ensure that today’s LGBT young people can live their best lives without facing the discrimination that many faced in the past and we should unite to consign prejudice to the dustbin of history.”
Kevin Stewart was appointed as the Minister of Mental Wellbeing and Social Care this year. He previously served as the Deputy Leader of Aberdeen City Council and as a local councillor for more than eleven years. His roles within government have included “housing, local government, planning, building standards, Business Improvement Districts, homelessness, and fuel poverty.” Stewart represents the constituency within Aberdeen Central which is nearly 150 miles from St. Simon’s Church. It is unclear why the homophobic commenter linked Stewart to the fire.
In the early hours of July 28th, the church was set ablaze and the roof collapsed. St. Simon’s is the third oldest Catholic church in the Archdiocese of Glasgow. Detective Kenny McDonlad said, “We know this fire has been devastating and has caused much distress to the local and wider community. Along with our partners, we will continue to support our communities.” BBC reported that a 24-year-old man was charged with “wilful fire raising.”
The fire set upon St. Simon’s is a glaring reminder of a history of anti-Catholic sentiment in Scotland. The hurtful email directed towards Stewart is another reminder of how misguided faith often fuels homophobia. These cycles of violence and hate are distressing but it compels us to continue the efforts in breaking them.
Like those who expressed their solidarity with Stewart, we must express solidarity to those excluded from and within our religious communities. The church’s social teaching and its principle of the life and dignity of each human person is a way in which Catholics can be an example of how to express authentic solidarity and love.
—Elise Dubravec, New Ways Ministry, September 25, 2021