An anti-LGBT+ Christian group has purchased a former gay bar – with the intent of converting it into a church.
The popular Bretz Nightclub in Toledo, Ohio, which was one of the oldest LGBT venues in the area, closed suddenly in December.
The vacated venue was purchased for $148,000 in January by the extreme evangelical group, The Greater Toledo House of Prayer.
In a statement on its website, the hateful organisation says: “In October 2017, the ministry became aware that the Adams St. building was available for sale, then toured the building and determined the space would work well for the group”.
The statement claims that the building was purchased purely because of a “lack of space” in its current offices, and denies reports that the group had anything to do with the nightclub’s closure.
The group supports what it describes as “basic christian values” including prohibitions on “homosexuality, bisexuality, bestiality, incest, gender identity different than the birth sex chromosomal level”.
In its ‘Statement of Beliefs’ the organisation also says that “God wonderfully and immutably creates each person as male or female”, labelling any deviation from the binary as “a rejection of the image of God”.
The extreme Church is an affiliate of the Kansas-based International House of Prayer, which supports hate legislation against LGBT people, including supporting a law in Uganda calling for gay people to be put to death.
The Greater Toledo House of Prayer also has links to another Christian group, called Agora Toledo, which had planned in 2014 to purchase a former abortion clinic in the area, and to construct a memorial to the unborn in its place.
However, the plans did not materialise, and the ex-abortion clinic is still standing.
Stakeholders in the Adams Street district, where the nightclub was based, have reacted with dismay to the news, saying they were “heartbroken” at the closure.
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They added that the venue had been “a staple in our community and a home for the LGBT community for decades”.
However, representatives of the entertainment district which housed the Bretz nightclub vowed that the area will remain “a place of love, understanding, and support and celebration”.
A neighbourhood Facebook page, made up of business owners from the Adams Street district, declared that their support for the LGBT+ community in light of the event, writing that “Toledo. Loves. Love”.
Local LGBT+ leaders are also planning to open an LGBT community centre near the anti-gay church, where the nightclub formerly stood, which would include a food pantry, health resources and suicide prevention resources.