Bishop who said gay men ‘have a specific stink’ did not commit a criminal offence, police say
A bishop who claimed that gay men have a “specific stink” has been cleared of wrongdoing by police.
Church of Cyprus bishop Neophytos of Morphou has attracted anger over his outlandish claims about LGBT+ people, claiming in July that homosexuality is “a problem, which is usually transmitted by parents to the child” when pregnant women have anal sex.
In the sermon, he also claimed that gay people have a “nasty smell” because “these acts you’re doing, laying with men, have a specific stink.”
Cypriot police launched a hate speech probe into the bishop’s conduct, but have now concluded that his comments do not constitute a criminal act.
Cypriot Bishop cleared of hate speech over anti-LGBT remarks
The decision to let him off was condemned by Accept LGBTI Cyprus.
The pressure group said: “[We] would like to express regret as well as outrage following Cyprus police conclusions that Bishop of Morphou remarks on homosexuality… did not constitute a criminal offence.
“Police believe that the Bishop is cleared of any wrongdoing because he was simply responding to a question and merely quoting the words of monk Porfyrios (who never uttered them by the way).
“Could one deduce from this decision that hate speech is fine if derived from other scripts?”
The group called for the Attorney General to overturn the decision and find “that these clearly homophobic comments are a tremendous violation of the Hate Speech Law.”
The campaigners added: “What we at least expected from the church is love, not exclusion.”
In his sermon, the bishop had claimed that homosexuality is “a problem, which is usually transmitted by parents to the child.”
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He said: “[Homosexuality] happens during the parent’s intercourse or pregnancy. It follows an unnatural sexual act between the parents.
“To be more clear, anal sex. ‘[Saint Porfyrios] says that when the woman enjoys that, a desire is created, and then the desire is passed on to the child.”
Cyprus has made LGBT+ reforms
Cyprus decriminalised homosexuality in 1998 and the country has rapidly made reforms on LGBT+ issues, though ultra-conservative attitudes persist and it lags behind much of Europe.
The country banned discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in 2004, while civil unions were introduced for same-sex couples in 2015.
A hate crime bill protecting LGBT+ people was passed in 2015, while a public consultation was held on a proposed gender recognition law in 2018.
However, same-sex adoption is still not legal in Cyprus and gay people remain banned from serving in the military.
In the Turkish-occupied Northern Cyprus, homosexuality was only decriminalised in 2014, and LGBT+ people still have little legal recognition.