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Investigation reveals National Lottery funds awarded to homophobic British faith groups

Investigation reveals National Lottery funds awarded to homophobic British faith groups

Gay rights activists are demanding audits into British faith groups who’ve published homophobic materials.

According to British newspaper The Guardian, an investigation has revealed numerous church groups throughout the UK that receive grants from the Big Lottery Fund have published anti-gay lesson plans and sexist articles online.

Every year, the Big Lottery Fund awards millions of pounds to organizations for ‘good causes’.

In 2007, Christ Apostolic church in Luton, 30 miles north of London, received of a £10,000 grant for a children’s after school program. The school’s lesson plan published by the church’s Nigerian parent organization, advises for community members ‘eschew!’ gay people.

The lesson plan reads: ‘Same-sex relationships are foreign to God’s Law.

‘Anyone who practices lesbianism, homosexuality, gay-marriage etc. is a beast! Don’t do it!

‘At the end of this lesson, the people of God should be showing deeper hatred for sexual sins.’

Pastor Stephen Oluwasola, who runs the parish, assured that gay people are welcome to church community projects, but he also said: ‘All the members of Christ Apostolic church, we share the same belief … Our church doesn’t support the idea of homosexuality because our belief is that it is not biblical.’

Gay rights advocates are now calling for an audit of grants, and say that organizations that promote inequality should not receive funds.

LGBT rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said: ‘No lottery money should be given, directly or indirectly, to organisations that promote prejudice and discriminatory values.

‘In a free society, extremist churches are entitled to believe that homosexuality is wrong, but they should not receive money that comes from the public and is intended to support good causes. Anti-gay bigotry is not a good cause.

‘The government and national lottery need to establish tighter controls on grants, to ensure that homophobic and other hate-mongering organisations do not get funding.’

A representative for the Big Lottery Fund defended the grants saying that the award amounts were small, and made years before the anti-gay rhetoric was published. Mark McGann, a senior director at BIG, confessed that it would not be cost-effective to carry out background checks on all grants.

Labour MP Chris Bryant said: ‘I don’t object to religious charities being supported by the lottery, as many churches and religions do a great deal for society. But most people would be scandalized to hear that lottery money is being used by groups that peddle fundamentalist prejudice and bigotry.’

In a separate case, up to £450,000 in grants were given to UK-based church groups connected with The Church of God in Tennessee in the US. The American religious group ‘condemns homosexuality as a fleshly behavior and sinful practice’ and is opposed ‘to the rising trend toward legitimizing homosexual unions’.

The investigation also revealed other religious institutions publishing controversial sexist materials.

North London’s Apostles Revelation Society, which received a £9,520 grant to help young people find voluntary work, published an article that read: ‘A woman should fully co-operate in sexual intercourse with the man. A wife should be tolerant, obedient and should abide by the instructions of the man.’

UPDATE:

The Big Lottery Fund responded to questions from GSN saying: ‘Since January 2010 the Big Lottery Fund has awarded over £18 million to project targeted at the LGBT community.

‘The Big Lottery Fund supports over 12,000 projects a year and will fund religious groups to carry out specific activities that deliver social outcomes evidenced by need. All activities funded by us must be as accessible and inclusive as possible.

‘We will not fund activities that are specifically religious or proselytising in nature or that are contrary to our own equalities policy. Our mission is to help communities and individuals most in need and it is our experience that many religious groups can have unique access to some of those that are hardest to reach.

‘We take seriously the assessment of applicants and monitoring of our grants but at the same time we need to do this proportionately, based on the size of grant. This is to ensure that funding is accessible to all, not over burdensome for those, often small groups, applying, whilst at the same time keeping the overheads of awarding grants down.

‘As well as monitoring grants throughout their term, we thoroughly investigate all allegations of funding being misused or breaches of our terms and conditions and take appropriate and necessary action to ensure the proper use of funds.’