An influential Bishop in Greece’s Orthodox church has been convicted of anti-gay and racist speech.
A three-judge court sentenced Bishop Amvrossios (Ambrose) seven month sentence, suspended for three years over a 2015 blog post.
‘They are not human beings, they are rejects of nature,’ he wrote.
‘Do not go near them! Do not listen to them! Do not trust them! They are the damned members of society!’
Amvrosios became the Bishop of Kalavryta and Aigialeia in the Peloponnese region in southern Greece in 1978.
The court in the town of Aigio found him guilty of incitement to hatred and abuse of ecclesiastical office.
A group of citizens took legal action against the Bishop over his comments. Lawyer for the group, Kleio Papandoleon, celebrated Monday’s ruling. She told the Associated Press it put limits on ‘inflammatory and racist speech’.
Amvrosios’ history of inflammatory blog posts
Amvrosios is no stranger to controversial comments.
Last year, he furthermore blamed the deadly wildfires near Athens on atheist Prime Minister Alex Tsipras, according to the National Herald. The wildfires killed 82 people and Amvrosios’ comments drew condemnation across Greece, even from within the church.
‘Atheist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras draws the wrath of God,’ Amvrosios wrote on his blog.
‘The atheists of SYRIZA are the causes of the general disaster! Their atheist, draws the wrath of God!’
The Greek Orthodox church wields a lot of influence politically and socially in Greece.
In May, 2018 the church condemned a government decision to allow same-sex parents to foster children in need. It also objected to making same-sex civil partnerships legal, but Greece legalized them in 2015.
But Greece also remains a dangerous country for LGBTI people. The LGBTI community in Greece faces high levels of discrimination and is the victim of the most violence of any group in the country.