Scottish Official Responds to Email Claiming His Homosexuality Caused Church Fire

Kevin Stewart

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

4 replies
  1. Richard McKay
    Richard McKay says:

    Dear ‘New Ministry’ and Kevin Stewart,

    As a Catholic priest involved in LBGTQ+ ministry in Clifton Diocese, England, and of Scottish origin, I want to express my total rejection of this so-called ‘prophetic word’ and call for deliverance ministry and voice my support for Kevin in his identity. I have been deeply graced by the Catholic Charismatic Renewal and by Liberation Theology: but I have long been concerned that the ‘Pentecostal experience’ of the Holy Spirit transforming our lives and communities has too often become ‘straight-jacketed’ into a fundamentalist and reactionary theology. It so often lacks the breadth of Catholic ‘humanism’. This has resulted in the growth of ‘culture wars’ of which LBGTQ+ issues and people are so often the victims. This is contrary to authentic Catholic Tradition which is constantly developmental and future-oriented. The Holy Spirit speaks through the life-experience of the marginalised, the Word comes from the edges of society. As we enter the Church’s two year Global Synod, we are called to walk together in love so as trill to listen to each other with depth and so discern the what the Spirit is saying to the Church in our time. Listen to the cries of the earth and the cries of the poor and marginalised – and so hear God’s Word for today, shaping a more just and equal tomorrow.

    Rev Richard McKay
    St Nicholas of Tolentino Church, Bristol BS5 0RE, UK

  2. Tom Bower
    Tom Bower says:

    As much as I believe in Freedom of the Press, I must ask for a bit of editorial review to restrict such stories. They give broad voice to ideas that should not receive coverage. Haters will hate, but their evil intent does not need to be enhanced. As with Donald Trump, sure his running for President was funny, until it wasn’t. Yes one homophobic rant seems silly, until it gives voice for a mob.

    • Patricia Fowlie
      Patricia Fowlie says:

      It didn’t seem amusing at all to Scots- a tale of two golf courses & first hand experience of him in a wee country. (He wasn’t on TV here either). He was the most unwelcome visitor since the Black Death.

  3. Patricia Fowlie
    Patricia Fowlie says:

    Scotland is doing better than most on LGBT+ rights. Male homosexuality still illegal when I came down here in 1979. (Nobody prosecuted so Westminster resisted changing Scots law!) Holyrood Parliament repealed Section 28 as priority as soon as it was established. Church of Scotland (Kirk) has partnered gay ministers (bigots pushed off to Free Kirk). In London many LGBT+ folk suspicious of being photographed but in Edinburgh I was surprised how relaxed it was b


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