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For Immediate Release
 Saturday August 30 2003

 GAY CATHOLICS TO HOLD PROTEST ACTION  AT ST PATRICK'S CATHEDRAL,

MELBOURNE,    SUNDAY AUGUST 31

'RETURN TO SENDER  - WE REJECT DOCUMENT ON HOMOSEXUALITY'

 Queer activists, gay Catholics and students, parents and family will confront the Catholic Church and Archbishop Denis Hart over the recent Vatican document that denounced gay unions as "evil" and condemned legislation to recognise them.
 
The symbolic action will take place outside St Patrick's Cathedral, Melbourne, after 11 am Mass on Sunday August 31.
 

Organised by leaders of the Gay Catholic group, the Rainbow Sash Movement and the Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby, the protest will involve a symbolic return of the Vatican document marked "REJECTED", and a call for the Church to follow Jesus teaching and offer gay people "Bread, Not Stones".
 

Rainbow Sash spokesperson, Michael Kelly, explained: "Jesus once said: 'What parent, if your child asked for bread, would give him a stone?' In this document, we have our answer. The Church has refused to offer gay people the "bread" of love, welcome and justice - instead we get cold condemnation and stony rejection, we get bigotry and prejudice dressed up as theology, we get arrogant denunciations instead of dialogue and respect. It is time to say enough ! We will not accept the cold stone of this document.
We send it back to the
Vatican marked, "REJECTED"  - and we do this in the name of love and justice".

 The Vatican document, issued on orders from the Pope on July 31, forbids ALL legal recognition of gay unions and demands that politicians seek to repeal it if it has been passed. It has sparked outrage among gay and civil rights groups around the world, who are alarmed that the Vatican is attempting to dictate how secular societies should treat their lesbian and gay citizens. "This document is a blatant attack on gay relationships and gay love" said Michael Kelly. "It denounces even basic legislation to support gay couples as the "legalisation of evil";  it demands that any type of "domestic partnership" legislation - as well as 'gay marriages' be banned. It even tells governments to find ways to "contain" gay relationships so that "public morality" and "young people" may be "protected".

 "It is high time people of good will, including politicians, parents, theologians and clergy of all faiths,
stood up to the Vatican and refused to allow gay and lesbian people to be demonised in the name of God. Enough is enough!"

 Reflecting the widespread anger and concern this document has caused, Sunday's action will include not just gay Catholics, but civil rights activists, academics, university students and parents. Before the formal action at the Cathedral, the gathering will be addressed in the Fitzroy Gardens by Dr Maria Pallotta-Chiarolli, Senior Lecturer in Social Diversity and Health, at Deakin University's School of Health Sciences, and Mr David McCarthy, of the Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby.
 

"There is nothing new about a wide range of people coming together to challenge the Church on issues of justice", said Mr Kelly. "In the early 19th century, when the Catholic hierarchy still supported slavery as part of the "natural order" of society, it was a coalition of  people of all faiths and none who stood up for basic human freedom and dignity. The Vatican was wrong then, and it is wrong now!

This Sunday a similar coalition of people will stand up to the Vatican and reject its campaign against gay love.

"We must stand up for human freedom and dignity. We must make a stand for love!" he concluded.

 Michael B Kelly. Spokesperson Rainbow Sash Movement