Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Archbishop John Sentamu receives racist emails

Archbishop John Sentamu receives racist emails after saying ministers should not allow same sex marriage

The Archbishop of York has been sent several ‘abusive and threatening’ racist emails after speaking out against gay marriage.

The malicious messages to Dr John Sentamu have prompted a police investigation, it was revealed yesterday.

In an interview last month, the senior Church of England cleric said that marriage must remain a union between a man and a woman.

He argued that the Prime Minister would be acting like a ‘dictator’ if he allowed homosexuals to wed, rather than just have civil partnerships as is the case at present.

Yesterday a spokesman for Ugandan-born Dr Sentamu said the Archbishop received a ‘large quantity’ of correspondence following the interview, adding: ‘Amongst many positive emails that he has received, there have been a small number of abusive and threatening emails of a racist nature which North Yorkshire Police are investigating as hate crimes.’

In the interview Dr Sentamu said: ‘Marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman. I don’t think it is the role of the state to define what marriage is. It is set in tradition and history and you can’t just [change it] overnight, no matter how powerful you are.

‘We’ve seen dictators do it in different contexts and I don’t want to redefine very clear social structures that have been in existence for a long time and then overnight the state believes it could go in a particular way.’

The Government will open a consultation on the issue of same-sex marriages next month.

Dr Sentamu said bishops in the House of Lords had not tried to stop civil partnership laws introduced by the previous Labour government, but predicted widespread opposition to plans to legalise gay marriage.

‘The rebellion is going to come not only from the bishops,’ he said. ‘You’re going to get it from across the benches and in the Commons.

‘If you genuinely would like the registration of civil partnerships to happen in a more general way, most people will say they can see the drift. But if you begin to call those “marriage”, you’re trying to change the English language.

‘That does not mean you diminish, condemn, criticise, patronise any same-sex relationships because that is not what the debate is about.’

Last week, while Dr Sentamu was abroad, about 70 protesters staged a demonstration outside York Minster, the cathedral where he serves.

They denounced Dr Sentamu’s comments and accused him of homophobia.

The University of York’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) group, which organised the demonstration, said Dr Sentamu was opposing equality.

A spokesman for North Yorkshire Police said of the emails: ‘We can confirm that a complaint has been received from the office of Archbishop John Sentamu, following the receipt of emails containing racially offensive statements.

‘The emails are being investigated as a hate crime.’


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