Head of Belgian Catholic Church Could Face Charges of Homophobia For Controversial Speech

Country: Belgium

Date of incident: November 2, 2010

Msgr. Leonard faces accusations of homophobia for expressing controversial positions on the causes of HIV/AIDS.

Comments made on AIDS by Mgr. Andre-Joseph Leonard, Bishop of Brussels, in a book spread controversy in Belgium. In a book released last month, Leonard said of HIV carriers: "When you mistreat the environment it ends up mistreating us in turn. And when you mistreat human love, perhaps it winds up taking vengeance.“ Facing misunderstanding of the public, he explained in an interview: "When we adopt a form of behaviour that is not right, there are consequences that let us know that it's not correct." He said in recorded comments posted on the Church’s official website on Friday, "At the beginning of this epidemic, if I've understood the scientific articles, there were risky practices, sex with multiple partners, anal relations instead of vaginal which allowed this proliferation to happen. So we can say, if we want to reason in that way, that nature is taking revenge if you don't use your body correctly." The archbishop stressed that he had "sympathy" and "solidarity" for all those suffering from HIV/AIDS and the hope that they would be "treated in the best possible conditions." In addition to the accusation of lacking Christian charity, Mgr. Leonard is known for his unpopular "conservative" positions and could face charges of homophobia. "I believe the archbishop is violating anti-discrimination law and committing slander," lawyer Jean-Marie De Meester said. Read more: 

AFP  November 2, 2010 New Zealand Press Agency, October 16, 2010