Homophobic remarks made at Christian Union event

The LGTBQ Network called the homophobic comments, which were made by a non-student, ‘disappointing’

Concerns have been raised regarding the homophobic behaviour of a representative of the University of York Christian Union (UYCU) during the society’s ‘Text-A-Pancake’ event on 17 February.

Image: Nouse

Image: Nouse

The event involves students texting the society a question about Christianity and then receiving a pancake delivered to their accommodation block alongside the answer to their question.

A student residing in Alcuin College told Nouse that four representatives from the UYCU arrived at a first-year accommodation block after one of the flats asked: “Why does God hate gay people?”

A woman acting as a member of the society was said to have made homophobic and offensive comments towards the students, some of whom defined as LGBTQ.

During the visit, one of the four representatives, a young female, revealed that she was not a student at the University. However, this was not made clear at the time, and students have raised concerns that the UYCU allowed non-students to say such inflammatory remarks on their behalf.

The woman in question expressed a number of views including “love the sinner, hate the sin” in reference to homosexuality, and said that homosexuals should “abstain” from both relationships and marriage.

A student who spoke to the UYCU members in question said: “I thought that I was done with that kind of homophobia way before university, so to come here and to have someone act like I’m a problem, with a massive smile on their face, when you’re not expecting it and all you want is a pancake, is just tiring and upsetting.”

The UYCU have since apologised and the incident is being investigated. Similar experiences have also been reported. A former college tutor, who also identifies as LGBTQ, said: “I had lots of friends who were active within the Christian Union throughout university and I rarely felt uncomfortable around them. The views these Christian Union members have expressed aren’t particularly inflammatory given their religion, but I am surprised and upset that they would voice those views within a private, safe accommodation space.”

The concerns were brought to the attention of Sophie Jorgensen-Rideout, LGBTQ Officer for Alcuin College, who said: “Another student informed me that a Christian Union group had come into their flat during the ‘Text-A-Pancake’ day and responded to their question of LGBTQ acceptance within the church with an inappropriate comment.

“I reported this to Dominic Smithies [Chair of Alcuin College] as it was clear to me that it’s unacceptable for them to do this. We’ve reached a resolution with them, and I hope this situation doesn’t repeat itself as it’s not acceptable to voice these views – especially not to come into someone’s home and do so.”

Maddie Boden, speaking on behalf of LGBTQ Network, told Nouse: “We accept that there should be a diverse range of societies and organisations on campus that represent the broad interests and beliefs of all students on campus.

“However, the LGBTQ Network does not believe that homosexuality [being] a sin is one [that should be promoted] and we are incredibly disappointed to hear that students in the Christian Union, during a Christian Union event, were promoting that message without solicitation in an accommodation block.

“People have a right to their individual beliefs but the Network believes individuals also have a right to live their lives with any sexual orientation, gender identity, and right to a relationship if they so wish.

“The sort of sentiments expressed by this Christian Union member have no place at an event run by a YUSU-approved society and we would expect a full apology from the Christian Union.”

The UYCU committee responded to the complaints by saying: “The University of York Christian Union wants to make all of our activities engaging and welcoming to all students regardless of their religion, gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation.
“It is never our intention to cause offence to anyone on the basis of their sexual orientation, and we are very sorry if this is perceived to have happened.”

Policy thirteen of the University’s Policy on Religion, Belief and Non-Belief states: “All members of the University community have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. However, if beliefs are promoted in a way that impinges on the rights and freedoms of others, this may result in disciplinary action.”

Chris Wall, Student Activities Officer, expressed his disappointment at the incident. He said: “We are investigating as no student should be made to feel uncomfortable in their own college. There are also concerns to be addressed about non-student members representing societies. If anyone has any issues like this in future we encourage students to report them immediately to YUSU and their college welfare team.”

13 comments

  1. Students ask for someone’s opinion; outraged when their opinion does not agree with their own. Students only willing to tolerate one viewpoint on this issue; label others intolerant for not agreeing with their opinion. Je Suis Charlie indeed.

    Reply Report

    • 30 Mar ’15 at 11:41 pm

      Former Student

      Indeed. Students really have become one of the most childishly (and I might add dangerously) reactionary and intolerant groups in our society. And given the rise of a UKIP (being a political force that doesn’t represent the views of pampered spoilt middle class kids from either London or the Home Counties/South East), their behaviour is starting to show some worryingly totalitarian characteristics.
      Individuals and groups have every right to make whatever homophobic, sexist or racist remarks they wish and the public has every right to hear them, and its important that they do.
      Its always been a source of annoyance to me as a bisexual that anyone who identifies as LGBT in some way is even bothers to try to win over people who simply are not going to share their views. There’s no point, but it is a valuable tool to help generate LGBT activist propaganda. Its just a way for the non-existent ‘LGBT community’/’gay community’ (i.e. a small minority of vocal fanatic activists who claim to represent LGBT groups) to keep their activist parasite train rolling and to keep using an imagined victim status to keep pressuring those in authority for more money, and enhancing their cultural and political power. LGBT activists need these kinds of stories, or else they become irrelevant.

      Reply Report

  2. Just look at who has written the article. Just a quick facebook stalk shows that the writer has an agenda. I may not agree with what the CU have said regarding their homosexual views but I respect their right to believe what they believe. Reactive journalism needs to be careful not to simply attack the easy target but rather give balanced and well thought through journalistic pieces. Let us all also remember that freedom of speech does still exist and if you are willing to invite someone to your halls to discuss such a matter when you hold such views, there is a chance you may be offended.

    Reply Report

    • 3 Mar ’15 at 12:13 pm

      Gay Christian

      I would by lying if I said that I wasn’t saddened by this story; it is enormously disappointing that UYCU allowed such an incident to occur, and I am glad they’ve apologised and measures are being taken to prevent it happening again. Upon receiving that question, careful consideration should have been given about who to send – common sense says you should send someone from both sides of the debate to reflect the spectrum of opinion within the UYCU and the faith!

      But first, I have to say my experience of CU members – and I am not one myself – is that most are very open and tolerant, and many very much pro-LGBT rights. Those who aren’t are generally respectful and understand there is a time and place for these discussions, and appreciate that UYCU must and does embrace all interpretations of Christianity without making value judgements about their worth.

      Second, I find the attitude of the LGBTQ Network to be profoundly hypocritical on this question. Maddie, who has been a very hard-working officer who deserves praise as she prepares to step down, says the Network promotes the representation of a wide range of views and embraces diversity – but does it? One of her successors branded a new pro-life society “disgusting” in a statement to another campus newspaper, in his capacity as ‘Queer Convenor’; certainly such statements make me feel as though I would be profoundly unwelcome, as a gay person with pro-life sympathies, in the Network. Indeed, that intervention is just one of many issues I have had with the Network over the last few years.

      I am certainly not the only person who feels the Network is not a very welcoming place to them at times. Very few of the LGBT people I know feel like the Network really represents them or wants to represent them; some have even been out-right offended by the Network’s choice of language or policy, and the way in which it represents the wider community. There are certainly LGBT people out there who shy away from involvement in the Network because they feel they are unwelcome, and will be shouted down and excluded if they try to voice their concerns or ideas. I would suggest that the Network should take a long and hard look at its own failings and problems if it wants to judge others so harshly.

      Reply Report

      • As someone who sits on both Network committee and a faith society committee, I don’t really get what you’re talking about. If you want to raise those concerns, I think with network officers or committee members is probably the correct forum, otherwise it doesn’t really allow us to improve. It just undermines the confidence of people in coming to Network and changing it.

        But to the point of representing a wide range of positions – committee includes chairs of three different political societies, and loads of people who are politically neutral. I agree that the new officers aren’t the most neutral of people, but the committee they have behind them will, I’m sure, hold them to account. Hell, there were a fair few vacancies on committee this year – join us and change us if you think we’re wrong! Or come and vote in meetings, voting is open to all who ID.

        Reply Report

      • I agree with this. I find the network is incredibly unwelcoming and unrepresentative of the vast majority of LGBT individuals (including myself) and is only willing to entertain those with the same extreme views as them. There are some members of the network that appear to be actively pushing for an ‘us and them’ mentality between gay people and straight people that is of course not what the vast majority want, indeed it goes against the very idea of equality.

        I find the idea of a ‘queer convenor’ laughable. For a start the word queer IS offensive, just like the n-word is offensive, and members of the network who use the word queer so liberally are effectively endorsing the use of an offensive word. Look up the word queer in a dictionary, it means ‘strange’, which is not something LGBT people are and is not something they should consider themselves or be considered as by others.

        Reply Report

        • I think you may be slightly missing the ‘queer’ point. Some people exclusively use the label ‘queer’ to define their gender, romantic, and sexual identity. The word has offensive roots, but is being reclaimed by the LGBTQ community worldwide.
          We also use the Q in the acronym to represent groups other than Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Trans* people.
          I have very different views to a lot of people in LGBTQ network on a lot of topics, but I’m a newly elected committee member and have never felt excluded. True, some members know each other from different societies and can speak about them, which I cannot, but I have never felt specifically excluded for having other opinions.
          As was said above, if you are still a student here, get involved with network and you might be able to change the things you don’t like. Or at least message someone on committee and say “hey, so I was thinking you could change this…” and something might be done.

          Reply Report

  3. This is like inviting the KKK into your house for a chat on race then being offended at what they say. Honestly, what were the students in question expecting?

    Reply Report

  4. I wonder what Islamic society has to say on all this?

    Reply Report

  5. 5 Mar ’15 at 4:26 pm

    Do you believe in life after love?

    Christians often hold outdated views that are intrinsically homophobic and anti-feminist. In other news, the Pope is Catholic.

    Reply Report

  6. I’d love to hear what Richard “dancing to your DNA” Dawkins has to say about LGBTQRYUHS rights … perhaps we could ask him to tweet something offensive, now he’s finished with Muslims and the disabled …

    Reply Report

  7. Well this isn’t a biased article against someone who clearly hates the CU… I’m not a part of the christian Union but aren’t they supposed to have a good rep? I’ve only ever heard positive things from mutual friends of people in the cu and those who have given me flyers for their events are always friendly. Sure someone who isn’t a student might have offended someone else at one of their events, but that doesn’t make them all horrible people.

    Also, just another point – if you invite someone into your flat to chat about something, don’t go crying about it to the press that you don’t feel safe. That’s your fault.

    That said, I hope the Christian union don’t have lots of non students running around again.

    Reply Report

Leave a comment



Please note our disclaimer relating to comments submitted. Please do not post pretending to be another person. Nouse is not responsible for user-submitted content.