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article imageBelgian archbishop Léonard under fire

By Bart B. Van Bockstaele     Jan 26, 2010 in World
Belgium's Centre for equal opportunities and fight against racism has received several complaints because Catholic Archbishop Léonard compared gay people with anorexia patients.
Knack, a leading Dutch-language magazine in Belgium reports that the country's "Centre for equal opportunities and fight against racism" has received several complaints against Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard.
According to Knack, the archbishop had compared homosexuality to anorexia on the French-language television network RTL-TVi:
I will make a comparison: Anorexia is a development which is not compatible with appetite, but I would never say that anorexia patients are abnormal.
According to the article, a Francophone union of free-thinker organisations has called the comparison to be outrageous:
When a comparison is made between homosexuality and anorexia, this suggests that homosexuality is a disease.
The director of the equal opportunity centre, Father Jozef De Witte, says that the words of the archbishop can be hurtful, but that he doesn't think that it was his goal to encourage hatred. This position is important, because the equal opportunity centre is a government organisation that can decide to start legal proceedings in cases like this.
This seems unlikely here because of the privileged position of Catholicism in Belgian society: the royal family is fiercely Catholic, a majority of the population is Catholic, the government actually pays the salaries of the Catholic clergy and Father Jozef De Witte is a Catholic himself.
While the anti-homosexuality position of the Catholic Church is hardly a secret, Archbishop Léonard has the reputation of being an ultra-conservative and his stance on homosexuality is that of a hardliner within the Catholic Church. From this perspective, the words of the archbishop could be seen as a (botched) attempt to take up a more tolerant position.
More about Belgian archbishop onard, Aneroxia gay abnormal, Racism
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