Wednesday, 25 July 2012

New Catholic Archbishop of Glasgow claims Labour MP David Cairns died because he was gay

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The new Archbishop of Glasgow, Philip Tartaglia
When it comes to making homophobic statements, the Catholic Church in Scotland has often led the way in Britain in recent years. Cardinal Keith O'Brien, the Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, and Britain's most senior Catholic, has a track record of extreme pronouncements on gay-rights-related-issues, and earlier prompted outrage by comparing the legalisation of gay marriage with the legalisation of slavery.

Considering O'Brien's record, it should perhaps come as little surprise that Philip Tartaglia, the newly-appointed Catholic Archbishop of Glasgow, has stepped into a row over homophobia before he has even officially taken up his new post.

A report in the Scotsman reveals that, in a speech delivered at a conference in Oxford in April, Tartaglia suggested that the tragic death of a 44-year-old Labour MP may have been linked to the fact that he was gay. David Cairns died last year from Pancreatitis but, in remarks reminiscent of the Daily Mail columnist Jan Moir's controversial take on the death of Boyzone singer Stephen Gately, Tartaglia asked his audience to consider whether there is a connection between early deaths and sexual orientation:
"If what I have heard is true about the relationship between the physical and mental health of gay men, if it is true, then society is being very quiet about it.

Recently in Scotland, there was a gay Catholic MP who died at the age of 44 or so, and nobody said anything, and why should his body just shut down at that age?

Obviously he could have had a disease that would have killed anybody.

But you seem to hear so many stories about anger at 'hurtful and ignorant' comments, this kind of thing, but society won't address it."
Alongside his colleague Cardinal O'Brien, Tartaglia has been outspoken in his opposition to the Scottish government's plans to introduce marriage equality. Following his appointment as Archibishop of Glasgow this week, he suggested that “If you defend the traditional marriage, that’s almost considered homophobic hate-speak", adding that he could see himself "going to jail" in the future if he speaks out against gay marriage.

As the British Humanist Association have pointed out, Tartaglia is also a vocal supporter of the anti-abortion lobby, and has endorsed the "40 Days of Life" pickets held outside abortion clinics around the UK.
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