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Archbishop ignores homophobic bullying

Marc Shoffman December 12, 2006
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A gay MP has expressed concern over how faith schools address sexuality after the Archbishop of Birmingham told the Commons education committee that there is no need for policies on addressing homophobic bullying.

Liberal Democrat MP Stephen Williams, a member of the Select Committee, yesterday asked Vincent Nichols, head of the Catholic Education Service, what faith schools are doing to address anti-gay bullying, but the archbishop retorted that there is no need for such policies.

Archbishop Nichols told the committee of MPs that specific issues of bullying should not be singled out, insisting that the Church had no problems with a person’s sexual orientation, but “sexual intercourse belongs within marriage.”

Mr Williams said he was not surprised with the remarks, which come just weeks after the archbishop spoke out against the new Sexual Orientation Regulations, due in the UK in April 2007.

Mr Williams, who has put forward a motion in Parliament against homophobic bullying, told “I didn’t think there was going to be a meeting of minds, he probably just wanted to get out with his dignity in tact.

“But there are still worries about how faith schools address sexuality.”

Gay charity Stonewall is also producing a DVD pack for schools across the UK about combating homophobic bullying.

Ben Summerskill, Stonewall’s chief executive, said the archbishop is “out of touch.”

He told “We are saddened that a week after the Archbishop of Birmingham claimed Christians wanted to be entitled to turn gays away from certain goods and services, he gives an indication that he doesn’t think homophobic bullying should be taken seriously.

“We know there is serious homophobic bullying going on in British schools.”

The meeting was about the way citizenship is taught in faith schools, and brought together religious leaders to demonstrate how they encourage debate about different communities in the classroom.

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