... or so claims the new Archbishop of Glasgow, Philip Tartaglia. The BBC reports that the Archbishop-designate said in a speech on Religious Freedom and Equality:
"If what I have heard is true about the relationship between physical and mental health of gay men, if it is true, then society has been 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 his body should just shut down at that age, obviously he could have had a disease which would have killed anyone, but you seem to hear so many stories about this kind of thing."But society won't address it."
Quite aside from the hurt and upset this statement has obviously caused to the family and friends of David Cairns, particularly his partner Dermot Kehoe, the new Archbishop's words have wider implications.
The statement starts from a position of ignorance ("If what I've heard is true...") and doesn't progress much beyond that. It's almost like starting a story with "I was chatting to this guy in the pub and he reckons...
After the initial statement linking the physical and mental health of gay men (and I've checked Wikipedia, but it doesn't tell me where Tartaglia got his medical qualifications from), the Archbishop leaps from the general to the specific to suggest that although David Cairns could have had a disease which killed anyone, well he was only 44 and he was a known gay, so well he must have had mental issues which caused physical complications. AND WHY WON'T ANYONE SAY ANYTHING?
Obviously, there's a conspiracy of silence. Shhh.... don't tell anyone the gays are all unhappy and ill in the head.
Actually, Tartaglia has 2 half points:
- There is a link between being gay and mental health. But not the one he thinks. There are higher instances of mental health issues amongst gay people - but that does not prove a causal relationship
- There is a large amount of silence on this matter. Something I've bemoaned before, when Attitude magazine clumsily tried to explore the issue.
I'd suggest that societal attitudes to Homosexuality - not least those of the Roman Catholic Church - are a contributory factor to the issue of mental health amongst those who are gay. And for as long as people like Archbishop Tartaglia choose to address the issue in the way he did, the more damage he will do to cause of both Religious Freedom and Equality.
Meanwhile, the Scottish Government has today published plans for Equal Marriage despite the campaigning of the Roman Catholic Church and others. It's a move that will do more for Religious Freedom and Equality than any amount of misinformed moralising and demonising ever will.